The Wild Blue Yonder and Beyond Hardcover – 15 Jul 2012
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About the Author
Ian Hawkins first became interested in the history of the Eighth Air Force as a young boy growing up in England surrounded by the airfields from which the aircrews flew. He is the author of B-17s Over Berlin: Personal Stories from the 95th Bomb Group (Potomac Books, 2004). He lives in Bacton, Suffolk, England. Rob Morris is a high school history and English teacher with a lifelong interest in the World War II air war. He is the author of Untold Valor: Forgotten Stories of American Bomber Crews over Europe in World War II (Potomac Books, 2006). He lives near Idaho Falls, Idaho.
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Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
As I sat down and began to read, I quickly realized that my doubts were unfounded. Rob has done a masterful job in telling the story of the 95th. He once mentioned that he hoped that he "got it right". I'm pleased to say that he most-certainly got it right! Using information he got from the actual veterans of the group, and his own exhaustive research, he tells the 95th's story in human terms, rarely seen in other similar works.
On behalf of my dad, who passed away in 1992, Rob, Thank you! Mission accomplished!
Rob Morris' book is not your typical mission-by-mission recounting of a bomber group at war. Morris interweaves the combat material with chapters on 'The British,' 'Replacement Crews,' 'Wives and Mothers,' 'Entertainment and London,' 'Escape and Evasion' and so on.
THE WILD BLUE YONDER AND BEYOND is successful in recreating the feel, the reality of the Group's wartime experiences. Morris includes many first-person reminiscences that put a human face on the Mighty Eighth's war.
In the acknowledgements section, Morris states his original manuscript topped out at 230,000 words and that he had to cut out 100,000 of them. While I understand the economics of publishing, I think that loss hurt the book. Very abbreviated summaries of various missions are given but, more crucially, losses are often only briefly itemized. Perhaps I'm being too critical but, considering the ultimare sacrifice those young men made, I thought those events should have been fully described.
In any case, readers will find THE WILD BLUE AND BEYOND a compelling, often poignant account of American airmen at war. Recommended.
5,000 Helpful Votes!
Many Thanks to All Those 'Helpful Voters' Over the Years!
The bibliography is the marker why this book is distinguished. The men and women who actually lived this incredible story gave hundreds of oral histories, not only as elderly soldiers speaking independently, but often in reunion settings giving well-documented first hand memories of the successes and failures of this group, which was awarded three Presidential Unit Citations for valor. These testimonies were transcribed and reside in the Library of Congress. The original mission reports are retained in the National Archives. Three other anthologies precede historians Rob Morris and Ian Hawkins' book.
What lifts this story above the bare undisputed facts is a glimpse of what it was like to be a crewman, aircraft maintenance chief, operations officer, trainer, family member, or British neighbor to the Group's airfield in East Anglia. The author meets this challenge by featuring about 30 critical elements that were the subtle War outcome game changers so difficult to comprehend and describe. The chemistry of the group creation, the horrendous setbacks, the camp life when not flying a mission, the wives and mothers, the POW's, the stunning impact of technology and scientific discoveries, the humanitarian missions feeding the starving Dutch citizens, and just how this legacy was thankfully preserved.
It was good fortune that the records were laboriously made, retained, and transcribed, and remains available on the 95th website ([...]). It was good fortune that veterans of the 95th initiated reunions and opened up with their corroborated stories and memories. It was good fortune that the 95th BG Memorials Foundation contracted with Rob Morris to tell the 95th story. The Wild Blue Yonder and Beyond is more than an accumulation of historical data. Rob Morris has brought this epic story to life in human terms and he got the story right.
This book is well-written, lively and entertaining. But it is much more than that. It is a book which preserves the history of these fighting Americans so that generations to come can understand what they endured to win the freedoms which we hold so dear.