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Wild Blue: 741 Squadron - On a Wing and a Prayer over Occupied Europe Paperback – 7 May 2002


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Wild Blue: 741 Squadron - On a Wing and a Prayer over Occupied Europe + Citizen Soldiers: From the Normandy Beaches to the Surrender of Germany + D-Day June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II
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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books; New edition edition (7 May 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743450620
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847397652
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 19.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 264,407 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dr. Stephen Ambrose was a renowned historian and acclaimed author of more than 30 books. Among his New York Times best-sellers are: Nothing Like It in the World, Citizen Soldiers, Band of Brothers, D-Day - June 6, 1944, and Undaunted Courage.He was not only a great author, but also a captivating speaker, with the unique ability to provide insight into the future by employing his profound knowledge of the past. His stories demonstrate how leaders use trust, friendship and shared experiences to work together and thrive during conflict and change. His philosophy about keeping an audience engaged is put best in his own words: "As I sit at my computer, or stand at the podium, I think of myself as sitting around the campfire after a day on the trail, telling stories that I hope will have the members of the audience, or the readers, leaning forward just a bit, wanting to know what happens next." Dr. Ambrose was a retired Boyd Professor of History at the University of New Orleans. He was the Director Emeritus of the Eisenhower Center in New Orleans, and the founder of the National D-Day Museum. He was also a contributing editor for the Quarterly Journal of Military History, a member of the board of directors for American Rivers, and a member of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Council Board. His talents have not gone unnoticed by the film industry. Dr. Ambrose was the historical consultant for Steven Spielberg's movie Saving Private Ryan. Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks purchased the film rights to his books Citizen Soldiers and Band of Brothers to make the 13-hour HBO mini-series Band of Brothers. He has also participated in numerous national television programs, including ones for the History Channel and National Geographic.


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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By S. Roberts on 8 Oct 2002
Format: Paperback
I found Wild Blue to be a good account of the men that flew over europe. We start off by meeting these men as they join the AAF and follow them through to there final mission. The book for 98% talks about the men and not how America won the war. However i did find it a little annoying when Stephen E. Ambrose in the final chapter made the AAF to be the major strike force in the bombing campain and that the British with there night bombing killed many civilians. This may be true but i would like to remind him that it was America that dropped 2 atomic bombs on Japan.
But what do you expect from a American Historian? The book altogether is very good, but to sum it up the allies couldn't of done it without the help of each other, and i feel that is what all books like this miss.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Jim 8888 on 8 Jun 2002
Format: Paperback
No-one in their right mind can knock the contribution the Americans made to winning the Second World War in Europe, but occasionally I had the urge to scream "Where were you before Pearl Harbour, mate", at the author. I also found his contention that the Americans chose daylight bombing as a morally superior form of bombing to the "murderous" night-time approach of the British, to be verging on the obnoxious. Sometimes it seems it's not enough for the Americans to be (the) victors, they have to have God on their side too, and this book landed too firmly in that camp to be completely satisfying.
As an account of what it was like flying on daylight bombing missions over Europe in the latter stages of the war, the book is pretty good - when it finally gets there. You'll read over a hundred pages about the selection and training of the crews before the first mission is flown, chapters which are a bit dry and slow going at times.
Once the missions start in earnest though, you can't help but marvel with the author over the bravery of these men. The descriptions of flying into daylight flak storms are terrifying enough on paper, without having to actually be involved in doing it. As a testament to these men and to what the world owes them, this is a fine book - but let's not forget that bravery, patriotism and heroism are not exclusively American traits.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mr. David G. Chance on 24 Aug 2003
Format: Paperback
This is the story of the fifteenth air force and concerns the crew of a B-24. Most people are aware of the eighth arm air force and the B-17s many of which were based in England during WW2. This book was brought for me as a present and I found it hard to put down, it focus on one crew and the experiences they had during the war. It starts with their training and goes on to there combat missions I feel the fiftenth were the fogotten air force along with the B-24. I was sorry to have finished reading it and would like to learn some more about the fifteen air force and their aircraft I feel this book does not deserve some of the poor reviews I have read about it.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 20 Sep 2001
Format: Hardcover
Review Summary: The Wild Blue is a five-star book from each of several perspectives. First, you will learn about how the United States went from having few aviation resources to fielding a larger air force than that of all the other nations combined in World War II. The complexities and careful thinking through of what needed to be done are most impressive. Second, you will learn about the role that strategic bombing played in the European theater of operations during that war. Third, you will learn what it was like to become a B-24 pilot, from the day a man volunteered to the day he returned home to the United States. Fourth, you will experience combat conditions against German fighters and flak in a lumbering, sluggish bomber in extremely difficult conditions. Fifth, you will find out how such a war-time experience changes a person's view of themselves and others. Sixth, you will also learn about the formative influences of war on one of the most prominent American peace advocates, former senator George McGovern. If you are like me, you will never see the war in Europe in quite the same way again after you read The Wild Blue.
Review: My father served on the ground in England as part of the famous Eighth Air Force in World War II. My father-in-law was a navigation instructor for bomber pilots during World War II. Although both men are proud of their service, they only tell the positive side of the air war in Europe. During rare moments over the years, they have alluded to some of the more personal and challenging sides of those years. My mother shares hints of some recurring nightmares from what other wives have told her at Air Force reunions.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Paddy Lambert on 6 Feb 2010
Format: Paperback
As a keen aviation buff and pilot myself, I thought this book would be a lot more interesting than it was. For example, there is hardly any exposition of what it was like to fly the B-24, or operate its guns, or navigate, etc. Flying details that are included are sometimes inaccurate (e.g. engines already at full throttle for take-off then somehow being throttled up again on the climb out, etc.) Also, as other reviewers have reported, the book starts far too slowly before moving on to the meat: some good accounts of various missions and the undoubted bravery of the crews of pressing on into terrible flak.

My main criticisms are as follows:

1. It reads more like propaganda than history. All American officers are great, without exception. American technology and morality is superior to that of the Allies, etc., etc. Real life is not like this, so do we really think history was?
2. As other reviewers observe, if you belong to one of the other Allied nations, e.g. British, Canadian, Polish, Czech, etc. your lip may curl at the usual US-centric dismissal of your nation's contribution, or the off-hand accusation that if there was a non-US contribution it was somehow inferior morally.
3. The book is clearly written in great haste. Commercial pressures perhaps, jumping quickly on the bandwagon of earlier success, but distracting to the reader.
4. Modern 'anecdotal-style' history by numbers, with lots of box ticking going on. A good example of this is that only one escort group is mentioned, the Tuskegee airmen. Very popular, very politically correct, but surely there were other P51 squadrons who also did a good job!?
5. Poor choice of main subject crew, McGovern et al to bring out the full B-24 experience. How did the B-24 cope with being attacked by fighters?

SO, in summary, worth a quick read on a long-haul flight, but pretty basic stuff from an author who, presumably, can do much better ...
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