Reading List (Update):  The Wind Blue Yonder

By | August 30, 2021

[August 30, 2021]  In three weeks, we will be privileged to celebrate the birthday of the U.S. Air Force, created on September 18, 1947.  The National Security Act of 1947 was a U.S. law enacting several major restructuring of our military and intelligence agencies following WWII.  This is why, for example, that the Air Force shares its birthday with the Central Intelligence Agency (created as an independent civilian agency under the executive branch).  Wow, now that sure is a mouthful.  My point is such a law restructured the U.S. government based on crucial lessons learned from WWII.  There have been no significant changes to this organization in nearly 75 years, despite the need for another relook after our long wars in the “war on terror.”  The lessons of WWII still count and should not be discounted, ever.  Today, I’ll be discussing a 2001 book by Stephen E. Ambrose, a highly respected and popular professor of history, author, and biographer.

The Wild Blue: The Men and Boys who Flew the B-24s Over Germany, Stephen E. Ambrose, 2001.

In this book, Stephen Ambrose recounts the missions of those who flew in the B-24 Liberator, a heavy, early war American bomber (holds the record as the world’s most-produced bomber in history).  Ambrose does a thorough job of describing how the Army Air Force recruited, trained, and selected those who would be part of the B-24 bomber crews; pilots, bombardiers, navigators, and gunners.  As a writer, Ambrose was popular, made possible by his easy-to-read style and descriptive nature.  He brings alive the action and tension of combat as he carries us through the smoke and flak the bombers traveled to reach their targets and destroy the German war machine.

Those who possess a deep understanding of aviation see the book as too narrow and prone to err, on occasion, regarding bomber facts.  But, Ambrose focuses his writing on the men who flew these planes, their courage, disappointments, grief at the loss of friends, and their separation from family.  The book is a first-person account of flying missions over defended enemy territory.  Interestingly, the book tells the story of George McGovern, who later became a prominent politician in the U.S.  McGovern.  McGovern was a pilot in one of those B-24s and a great man of character who refused to tout his WWII status during the election against Richard Nixon because McGovern believed that what he did was just being a citizen doing his duty.  If you want to read about some of America’s greatest generation, then this book is for you.

This book is recommended.

To go to the complete Professional Reading list, click on this direct link:

Side Note: Please remember and take a look at Tom Copeland’s reading blog.  His website, which I highly recommend, can be found here:

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

14 thoughts on “Reading List (Update):  The Wind Blue Yonder

  1. Erleldech

    The B-24 was not an easy machine to fly. It had a thin aluminum skin, which made it sufficiently airworthy but terribly susceptible to attack from ground-based enemy gunfire. It was a simple machine, though — built with one purpose in mind: dropping a maximum load of 8,800 pounds of bombs.

    1. Roger Yellowmule

      Ambrose goes into much useful detail on the origins of the pilots themselves. Interestingly, they were all volunteers — the Army Air Corps (the precursor to the modern Air Force) did not want to make anyone take part in this difficult duty. They came from all walks of life. Some were college graduates, while others were still in high school. Many went straight from the farm to the airfield.

  2. Dead Pool Guy

    The novel entails a recounting of George McGovern’s exceptional career as a chief pilot of a B-24 with the 455th Bomb Group in Italy, encompassing 35 bombing missions.

    1. Rusty D

      Thanks Frank. My favorite was “D-Day, June 6, 1944: The Battle for the Normandy Beaches”

  3. Jonnie the Bart

    From the cover, Ambrose “is the acknowledged dean of the historians of World War II.” I hear he passed away shortly after this book was published.

  4. American Girl

    Good book, I read it a couple of years ago and passed it along to my brother who never served but is kind of a nut when it comes to books like this one by Dr. Ambrose.

    1. Max Foster

      Yes, my brother as well. All our family served in either the Army or Air Force and we have a history in our family of service to the nation. I’m proud to be an American and am willing to do my duty as well to keep this country on the right track and as a beacon of light for the oppressed around the world. I see that our dementia patient president Biden is moving us away from that ideal but I’m convinced true Americans will see the error and steer us back onto the right path.

      1. Harold M. Smith II

        Good note Max and once again, as I’ve written before, your comments are always appreciated. I too read this book, like American Girl (love the avatar), and indeed loved it. The book sits on my book shelf with other books that Gen. Satterfield has written about.

        1. Max Foster

          You’re welcome and thanks to all those who give me a symbolic thumbs up for my comments, as well.

  5. Army Captain

    Thanks Gen. Satterfield for writing about one of my favorite historians, Dr. Stephen Ambrose. Growing up he provided me with books that got me interested in the military and the men who fought them. Thanks!!


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