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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good account of the 741st squadron in europe
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...
Published on 8 Oct. 2002 by S. Roberts

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading? Only just ...
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...
Published on 6 Feb. 2010 by Paddy Lambert


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good account of the 741st squadron in europe, 8 Oct. 2002
By 
S. Roberts (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading? Only just ..., 6 Feb. 2010
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Left wanting something more, 11 Oct. 2006
By 
Mr. S. P. Bentley (UK) - See all my reviews
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I have read Ambrose's D-Day, Pegasus Bridge, Band of Brothers and have the Band of Brothers DVD box set.

Wild Blue is similar in style to his other books insofar as it's written from the perspective of `how the US won the war'. This is the tale of principally one man plus comrades training in the US and flying on missions from Italy during the closing months of the war with barely a mention of any other Allied country's involvement. Compared to his other books the central characters are too isolated from the bigger picture and although Ambrose made some attempt at conveying the danger I couldn't help feeling these particular bomber crews had it easy compared to many others involved in the fighting (which isn't to say it wasn't hell when they were flying through flak). Too many missions were aborted due to clouds, the flight crews not on missions had plenty of time to relax and arriving near the end of the war means the book is almost half way through before the crew even get into combat. I did not feel as drawn into the lives of the characters as the other books. Ambrose writes with his usual perspectives eg that an airman must be a wonderful demi-god simply if he was a college athlete, everyone was a good time joe and how great various US politicians were etc that means nothing to the average non-American.

So from the above did I hate the book? No, I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I find myself disappointed compared to the other books. Was it rushed in research and completion, or was it for that particular crew at that time in that theatre there was little more to say? Ambrose is an All-American Patriot and writes only about the Americans at war, which can be distracting to anyone that thinks some other countries contributed something to the war effort, but a non-British perspective broadens the mind and raises questions to investigate and prove right or wrong, and it IS right every Allied country should feel proud of their involvement to varying degrees. America recovered very quickly from the war with the people having the best lifestyle in the world during the 1950's (compare to rationing and the slow recovery in the UK et al) and that tells us what the US did contribute to the war effort: huge resources and manpower which it clearly could afford (by 1941 Britain was broke). I wouldn't recommend this as a taster for the best of Ambrose's work but I wouldn't discount it. I now want to compare and contrast this history with British bomber command so it was still educational and thought-provoking. Ambrose at his best is an exceptional talent and I will be reading Citizen Soldiers sometime soon, but next on the list is Jon Latimer's Burma: the Forgotten War... after Wild Blue I want something with a bit more meat to it. If Band of Brothers was 10/10 this for me was 8/10.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The fogotten airforce, 24 Aug. 2003
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not his finest hour..., 14 July 2005
By 
N. Ford (Bristol, UK) - See all my reviews
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I've enjoyed some of Ambrose's previous works, and I'd agree with other reviewers that "Band of Brothers" is probably his most accessible work. This book failed to keep my interest, something I wouldn't have deemed possible, given the subject matter. The first half, covering the expansion and training of the AAF suffers greatly from too many characters and not enough focus - it's hard to remember who's who at times. Stylistically, there are some real clunkers of sentences and some jarring cliches - tighter editing would have been appreciated. Other British reviewers have noticed there are some sweeping statements about British bombing policy without any back reference as to why "Bomber" Harris pursued the path he did - from this you get the sense that the US airforce was precision-bombing personified.
The reasons for this, I think, are revealed in the telling forward - the author is a friend of McGovern, and hears that another author is planning a book about his wartime experiences. McGovern wants Ambrose to write it instead, and so he does. I get the impression that this was not the subject dearest to his heart, unlike, say D-Day.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars America Wins the War in Europe., 8 Jun. 2002
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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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Making the Right Decisions, 20 Sept. 2001
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 127,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
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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. Although Professor Ambrose's account is not as dark as the worst that I have heard, his lively and thorough narrative helped me to fill in many spaces where I lacked understanding of what these men had shared with me. For example, my dad had told me that the Fifteenth Air Force often had it worse than the Eighth late in the war. Since The Wild Blue focuses on the Fifteenth, I was able to understand what he was describing for me. I look forward to sharing this book with both my father and father-in-law and hearing what their reactions are to the material here. Very few books have ever helped me to understand these important men in my life as much as this one did.
I have always been impressed by former senator McGovern's commitment to peace and humanitarian concerns. I knew that he had been a bomber pilot in World War II, but little else about his war-time service. The book contains many interesting insights into his character that added to my admiration, and increased my understanding of the stands he has taken. As he characterized his experience of being a pilot, 'I literally exhausted every resource of mind and body and spirit that I had.' You will find these revelations more interesting if you read about them yourself, but I encourage you to pay close attention to stories about bombs dropped inadvertently.
Professor Ambrose has used accounts from many different people to capture the full dimension of the air war. I learned so much that I find it hard to believe that the book was so brief. Normally, I wouldn't learn this much from a book of 1000 pages. The mechanism of primarily following former senator McGovern's squadron was a good way to capture the grit of the small details while using them to illustrate the important, larger picture. Each perspective enhances the other.
The book also contains some excellent black-and-white photographs that usefully elaborate on the written materials.
I liked the way that Professor Ambrose took on the moral issues involved in the bombing. The civilian deaths were enormous from these raids, even though civilians were not the targets. Briefings described the important cultural sites in each area, and ordered the bombers to avoid them. Some bombing raids went near the death camps, but did not target them. At various times, the rate of lost crews approached suicidal levels. How much risk was it fair to ask these brave crews to take? Without imposing his own answers, he provides lots of room for your own thoughts on these and other important ethical issues.
I was powerfully moved by imagining myself in the various cramped positions in a B-24 over enemy territory, being exposed to danger and observing serious losses of my friends all around. Although I have seen many movies and television shows on this subject, The Wild Blue took my understanding of this experience to a much different and more personal level.
After you have finished learning from this outstanding book, I suggest that you think about ways that your most private experiences can be captured and shared with your children and grandchildren . . . so that the important lessons will be available to all those who need them in the future.
Learn from the challenges of the past to overcome the hurdles of the future.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Good! intriguing and full of details..., 14 May 2009
By 
I really enjoyed this book, I think this book gives a very interesting overlook of the efforts of AAF during the missions over Germany, some Eastern Countries but mostly Austria.

It was so interesting reading this book since i live in Vienna and almost every target on the missions is way too familiar for me. It's incredible to see the skies here and imagine that some years ago the B/24's were flying over.

The book includes a chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen which to my taste was way too short and did not reflect the importance and the respect earned of this "RED TAILED P/51" during the support of the Bombers.

It has way too many coincidences with the movie "Memphis Belle", which makes me think that the movie was very well done! Buy the movie if you haven't seen it! There is no need on watching it first before buying the DVD, just BUY IT!!

This is my first Ambrose book that I've read and it made me more interested in learning more about this topics, I just ordered the "Pegasus Bridge" since i already own the B of B DVD's, so I think I'll start with fresh stories.

You will really enjoy this book, you'll finish it in less than a week. Pages Fly!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the best, 24 Nov. 2008
This is not so good as Band of Brothers - unlike that book, he hasn't selected a unit whose wartime 'career' was so riddled with drama and incident. Although the book contains several compelling stories and anecdotes, many missions are merely mentioned in passing purely because nothing much happened on them. Given also the fact that the USAAF only entered the war relatively late, you are deprived of much of a sense of developing narrative - the war seems to be over for them not long after it starts.

The author would've done better to search for a more suitable crew to write about - a British one preferably, because then you would've got a sense of the whole war in the air as it developed. Stephen Ambrose was unlikely to attempt this however because, as in Band of Brothers, it is possible to detect a distinctly anti-British stance on his part. In the latter book the Brits are portrayed as 'boring' and occasionally incompetent, and in the present book they are cowardly and even 'murderous' for choosing night bombing instead of the brave, honourable Americans who bombed in daylight. Yawn!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An eye opener., 24 Oct. 2010
By 
A. S. Edwards (England) - See all my reviews
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Not my preferred subject area, I bought this as part of a box set of Stephen Ambrose books in preperation for a battlefield tour. I was quite in awe of the lengths that bomber crews went to in these trying circumstances. It is a good study of a specific area and this may not appeal to all, air warfare is somewhat different to land warfare though not all the reviewers of this book seem to appreciate that. Another well researched book from Ambrose which leaves the reader with plenty of good anecdotes and an appreciation of the way USAAF did business.

A general note to some of the critics of this book; on the front cover the subtitle reads '741 Squadron - on a wing and a prayer over occupied Europe' I'm not 100% sure but I think this might mean that it's a book about 741 Squadron who are USAAF therefore...
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The Wild Blue: The Men and Boys Who Flew the B-24s over Germany 1944-45
The Wild Blue: The Men and Boys Who Flew the B-24s over Germany 1944-45 by Stephen E. Ambrose (Paperback - 16 Sept. 2002)
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