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