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Men Of Air: The Doomed Youth Of Bomber Command [Hardcover]

Kevin Wilson
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)

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Book Description

11 Oct 2007
There were many ways for a combat crew to die during Bomber Command's war of 1944. Over German territory, bursts of heavy flak could tear the wings from their planes in a split second. Flaming bullets from German fighter planes could explode their fuel tanks, cut their oxygen supplies, destroy their engines. In the spring of that year, thousands of young men were shot, blown up, or thrown from their planes five miles above the earth; and even those who returned faced the subtler dangers of ice and fog as they tried to land their battered aircraft back home. The winter of 1944 was the most dangerous time to be a combat airman in RAF Bomber Command. The chances of surviving a tour were as low as one in five, and morale had finally hit rock bottom. In this comprehensive history of the air war that year, Kevin Wilson describes the most dangerous period of the Battle of Berlin, and the unparalleled losses over Magdeburg, Leipzig and Nuremberg. He tells how ordinary men coped with constant pressure of flying, the loss of their colleagues, and the threat of death or capture. And, by telling the story of the famous events of this period - the Great Escape, D-Day, the defeat of the V1 menace - he shows how, through sheer grit and determination, the 'Men of Air' finally turned the tide against the Germans.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: W&N; First Edition edition (11 Oct 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 029785321X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297853213
  • Product Dimensions: 3.8 x 16 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 675,260 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"thorough, thrilling and profoundly moving" (THE TIMES)

"Wilson tells their stories with skill and compassion (and) unearths the sheer guts and powerful determination that pushed the men on" (The Observer)

"Wilson's book does the memory of the 55,500 who died in bomber command a magnificent service" (Scottish Legion News)

Book Description

The story of the everyday heroism of British bomber crews in 1944 - the turning point year in Bomber Command's war against Germany. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Men of Air - doomed youth of Bomber Command 3 May 2008
A first rate book! The second of a (projected) trilogy about the bomber war from the dark days of 1943 to the final victory of 1945. 'Men of Air' is an account of the gradual turning of the tide in favour of Bomber Command during 1944 - still the horrendous attrition rate for operataions of deep penetration into Germany in the early months (and on some later occasions), but the very positive contribution of the 'Bomber Boys' to the success of D-Day is recorded here, something that tends to be overlooked by some. A fair assessment of the problems facing those tasked with planning operations, although some of the decisions made seem extraordinary. Kevin Wilson manages to make these young men and the odds they faced very real. Highly recommended!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not to be missed 30 Jan 2008
A very well researched and laid out book . The author manages to convey the need for this campaign and the varying results without any hint of bias. The reader is encouraged , in my opinion , to draw their on conclusions as regards the validity of the bombing campaign and how modern historians have treated those extremely brave men who flew for bomber command.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended - a must read 20 Feb 2009
My Father was an air Gunner in World War 2 with the RCAF, stationed at Skipton-on-Swale in Yorkshire in 1944 and 1945. This incredible book helped me to understand the quiet heroism of the very young crews who did their job, night after night. Easy to read, well documented, well written, but also filled with thorough understanding of what it was like. If you have a relative who was in the war, and you are only going to read one book about it, this is the one.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An up-close look at life and death in the air 28 Mar 2011
By John Middleton TOP 1000 REVIEWER
This is a sort-of sequel to Bomber Boys, and (with Journey's End) part of a trilogy of books focusing on the men of RAF Bomber Command in WWII. This covers 1944, starting with the Battle of Berlin and ending with the return to Germany after the "Transportation Plan" support of D-Day and the unexpected role of tactical air support in the war in Normandy.

Unlike Hastings Bomber Command, this is not about the big picture, or Bomber Harris, or whether it was all worth it after all. This is a book for and about those men who flew over occupied Europe and struck back in the only way the Allies could. You understand the moments of sheer terror being lit up in a searchlight, bailing out of a burning plane, making an emergency landing on two engines with dead and wounded around you.

There is also an excellent chapter on those who bailed out, survived (not all did), and ended up in a POW camp. The Great Escape - and other escapes - are covered in detail. There is heroism here, as much as in the planes above Germany.

This is an excellent book on the bravery of those who flew bombing missions in the dark days of WWII. It will help ensure that their courage and sacrifice is never forgotten.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars WHAT OUR BOYS HAD TO GO THROUGH 19 Nov 2008
Having spent many hours engrossed in the content of this book, I can certainly say this is one of the better accounts of life in bomber command during WW2. It really opens your eyes as to what it was like to serve. I actually felt I was there during certain parts of the book. Highly ecommended. Another excellent book is 'Carried on the Wind' by Sean Feast, The story of Ted Manners (101 Squadron - ABC operator on Rusty Waughman's Crew). A riveting read to anyone interested in Bomber Command.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hampden 4 Jun 2008
Today's generation of authors have a distinct advantage over the immediate and later post-war breed of writers- that of an unlimited bibliography upon which to draw. The notable raids of 1943 and 1944 carried out by Bomber Command Aircrew - Hamburg, Peenemunde, Nuremburg, the Dams Raids, covered by the more eminent historians, have been well documented requiring entire volumes to accommodate the wealth of material required for such projects.

These texts however were technical in nature and were directed more to defining history for the more serious Bomber Command historians and aficionados; the modern-day journalist now merely resorts to conducting as many interviews as are possible with remaining Bomber Command survivors weaving their personal recollections around the material already provided by their peers , subject to the required credits being attached.

Wilson's new book, as was the case with his first publication , is an example of this type of journalism; this does not detract from the content however, as he is an excellent writer and has obviously empathized with these crew members; the downside is that in this endeavour, he has allocated complete chapters to these previously well chronicled sagas which renders much of the material redundant for many readers all too familiar with history , and the consequences, of membership in the 'Lost Command'.

This book, while not necessarily being recommended for ex: Air-Crew, should be required reading for a younger generation who have no conception of what was expected of young men who, driven maybe by patriotism and the prospect of adventure, were exposed to the harsh realities of war where life expectancy could be measured in such short terms.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent insight into Bomber Command 14 Nov 2012
This is a very detailed and well considered account of the lives of the aircrew in bomber command. The research is impressive and the author is clearly a gifted writer. One aspect that I find frustrating in this book as with many other histories on bomber command is the lack of recognition of airmen from Rhodesia. The author does not even refer to 44 Squadron by its proper name, 44 (Rhodesia) Squadron. While this squadron was by no means only manned by Rhodesians they accounted for nearly 50% of the pilots and crew at any point in time and many of the ground crew. In early 1944 of the commander of the squadron was an ex-school teacher from Gwelo in the midlands of Rhodesia. On page 9 the author acknowledges the contribution of Eire and the Commonwealth countries, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and 'a few from South Africa', but the 2,409 Rhodesian airmen who served in World War II are ignored. Of these 697 (29%) never returned. Rhodesia lost more men per capita than any other Commonwealth country. It is difficult to understand why the author would make such a pointed omission.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to read whilst being detailed and clearly well researched
This book picks up where Bomber Boys leaves off (which should also be read) as Bomber Command begins to really understand the war. Read more
Published 8 hours ago by Chris
5.0 out of 5 stars A good read.
Factual, well written, and a good and compelling read. It beggars belief how these young men carried on despite nightly fear, fright and seeing their colleagues and friends quite... Read more
Published 16 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique perspective on bomber Command - a fantastic book
I recently finished the third volume of Kevin Wilson’s excellent WWII Bomber Command trilogy, Journey’s End. Read more
Published 16 days ago by Paul
5.0 out of 5 stars A quality telling of the risks that Allied Bomber crews faced on every...
This book was originally published in 2007 and may now be out of print in hardback format. It is however still available as a paperback. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Andy_atGC
4.0 out of 5 stars Part 2: 1944
Very well written and researched book following the Bomber Boys through the missions and combats of 1944. Some humorous, some harrowing personal experiences, all interesting.
Published 2 months ago by Richard
5.0 out of 5 stars If you read only one book about Bomber Command in WW2 make it this...
I have read this book three times it is that good. It is part 2 of a trilogy chronicling the Bomber Command story, but this is the one with the knock out blow. Read more
Published 4 months ago by R. M. Lane
5.0 out of 5 stars A first hand account of the brave bomber crews flying over Europe in...
Men of Air is not so much about the air war itself as it is about the men who flew the incredibly dangerous missions over Europe. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Joe B
5.0 out of 5 stars A great resume of heroic youn men.
I thoroughly enjoyed the tales of theses men and the battles and traumas they went through. Some of the stories were quite hilarious and shows that through it all they still had a... Read more
Published 8 months ago by KABUKI
4.0 out of 5 stars Men of Air: The Doomed Youth of Bomber Command
After purchasing the first volume of Kevin Wilson's Bomber Command trilogy, I had to buy the second. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Michael Browne
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and thought provoking read!
This is the second in a series of books chronicling the things endured by the Bomber Boys, at all levels of the bombing campaign over Europe. Read more
Published 8 months ago by S M DIX
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