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Deadly Sky: The American Combat Airman in World War II Hardcover – February 22, 2000

9 customer reviews

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Hardcover, February 22, 2000
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Editorial Reviews


“Using their own words, a vivid, thematic report on the personalities, thoughts, and experiences of American airmen in combat during World War II. An important book and an exciting read.”—Gerald Astor, author of The Mighty Eighth

“[Deadly Sky] is one of the most compelling books about men at war that I have ever read. It combines superb analysis of the World War II air war around the world with riveting, often heartbreaking eyewitness testimony from the participants...A truly great read.”—Tom Fleming, author of The Great Divide

“Especially moving are the words of the men who struggled to make sense of the horrors of war. They were not simply extensions of the war effort but fiercely independent men who thought seriously about what they were doing.”—Smithsonian Air and Space --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

About the Author

John C. McManus is the author of The Dead and Those About to Die, September Hope, and Grunts. He earned a PhD in American and Military History from the University of Tennessee, where he served as Assistant Director of the Center for the Study of War and Society and was a Normandy Scholar. As a leading authority on the Normandy invasion, he holds a Cantigny First Division Museum Fellowship. He is currently Curator’s Professor of U.S. Military History at Missouri University of Science and Technology, where he teaches a variety of courses, including one on World War II and another on the Modern American Combat Experience. He also serves as the official historian for the United States Army’s Seventh Infantry Regiment. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Presidio Press (April 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0891416781
  • ISBN-13: 978-0891416784
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,444,925 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By thomas a kamla on July 22, 2001
Format: Hardcover
A thorough examination, backed by eyewitness testimony, of virtually every aspect of life, both on the ground and in the air, experienced by combat airmen during World War II. One walks away from this book in awe at what these men went through psychologically as they prepared for and returned from their often daily bombing missions. One unfortunate omission of the book is its non-treatment of the light bombers that flew for the Ninth Air Force, specifically the A-20 Havoc and the A-26 Invader. McManus focuses exclusively on the "heavies," but if any bombers were truly exposed to the destructive power of enemy flak, then it was these attack aircraft that strafed and bombed from low altitudes. My uncle flew in both and he and his buddies also have compelling stories to tell.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Marc L. Tavasci on March 12, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Just as he did in "The Deadly Brotherhood", John McManus has once again come up with a great oral history collection, this time on American airmen in World War II. Various aspects of the war are covered, including training, combat, interaction with local inhabitants, being wounded and/or shot down, replacement pilots and crew, leadership and opinions on the enemy.

The majority of the recollections are actual quotes from those involved, although there are snippets of letters written to loved ones as well. All branches of the American armed forces are covered, with members of the 8th Air Force being the most common. However, there are nice bits from the CBI, Mediterranean and U.S. Navy, with a few Marines here and there.

Even though this book is weighted more heavily on the European side, it still was a great insight into what American airmen from all corners of the U.S. went through during the war. Well worth your time!
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 15, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The author presented the flow of information in a unique fashion. Individual stories of American combat airmen appeared throughout the book rather than in specific chapters dedicated to a particular airman. For example, an airman's views would show up in a chapter on crew training, then again in a chapter on air base activities or flying missions. Addressed were many aspects about combat personnel that one doesn't normally think of, such as the living conditions of enlisted men and officers, their drinking and sexual activities and how tours of duty were handled in different theaters. Included were items such as superstitious beliefs, prayer and even humorous events. The book states that many Germans fought for the Fatherland and the Japanese fought until the death. The Americans, on the other hand, did not fight for patriotism or the allied cause, although this was important. Their highest priority was survival.
I felt the book was a little weak on addressing equipment in the early phases of the war. It is my understanding that our airmen were thrust at the enemy in very inferior fighting vehicles. I was hoping to learn more from the crews' point of view on this subject.
It wasn't exactly what I expected, but it was a good read and certainly did cover a lot of territory. This book did bring back memories of American civilian and military feelings against Germany and Japan that I recall as a teenager
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 28, 2011
Format: Paperback
It wasn't a bad book. I didn't find it compelling reading...i.e., a book I couldn't put down, but it did offer an interesting look at the crews both in Europe and the Pacific. The book covers topics not typically covered in other books. For example, the author gave us a look at what the bomber crews typically wear - and how they layered their clothing for warmth. We are given a look at what happens when they needed to relieve themselves during a flight; or if they had to vomit. This book also detailed the living quarters of those found in England versus the spartan quarters that the aircrews lived in while in Italy. Then, contrasted those with the hot and muggy quarters found in the Pacific. These are just a couple of examples of what's covered. Basically, day-to-day living stuff that you would never think about. This is one of those books where you find yourself saying, "I didn't know that!", for example.

A perfect companion book to this would be "Bloody Skies" by Melvin McGuire. He was a washed out pilot who flew in the 15th AF as a gunner. His observations about his life in Italy make a perfect companion piece for "Deadly Sky".
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Oregon Grandma on July 12, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This particular book had much of the information that I was searching for and I have made good use of it.
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