Stephen Ambrose is the acknowledged dean of the historians of World
War II in Europe. In three highly acclaimed, bestselling volumes,
he has told the story of the bravery, steadfastness, and ingenuity
of the ordinary young men, the citizen soldiers, who fought the
enemy to a standstill -- the band of brothers who endured together.
The very young men who flew the B-24s over Germany in World War
II against terrible odds were yet another exceptional band of
brothers, and, in "The Wild Blue, " Ambrose recounts their
extraordinary brand of heroism, skill, daring, and comradeship with
the same vivid detail and affection.
Ambrose describes how the Army Air Forces recruited, trained,
and then chose those few who would undertake the most demanding and
dangerous jobs in the war. These are the boys -- turned pilots,
bombardiers, navigators, and gunners of the B-24s -- who suffered
over 50 percent casualties.
With his remarkable gift for bringing alive the action and
tension of combat, Ambrose carries us along in the crowded,
uncomfortable, and dangerous B-24s as their crews fought to the
death through thick black smoke and deadly flak to reach their
targets and destroy the German war machine. Twenty-two-year-old
George McGovern, who was to become a United States senator and a
presidential candidate, flew thirty-five combat missions (all the
Army would allow) and won the Distinguished Flying Cross. We meet
him and his mates, his co-pilot killed in action, and crews of
other planes. Many went down in flames.
As "Band of Brothers" and "Citizen Soldiers" portrayed the
bravery and ultimate victory of the American soldiers from Normandy
on to Germany, "The Wild Blue" makes clear the contribution these
young men of the Army Air Forces stationed in Italy made to the
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