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Dumb but Lucky!: Confessions of a P-51 Fighter Pilot in World War II Mass Market Paperback – June 28, 2005


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Frequently Bought Together

Dumb but Lucky!: Confessions of a P-51 Fighter Pilot in World War II + An Ace of the Eighth: An American Fighter Pilot's Air War in Europe + The Fight in the Clouds: The Extraordinary Combat Experience of P-51 Mustang Pilots During World War II
Price for all three: $37.45

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Presidio Press; 1st edition (June 28, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345476360
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345476364
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.9 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #269,182 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“The strength of our democracy lies in the wide variety of leaders and heroes we produce at all levels. This story is a wonderful example!”
–Joseph S. Nye, Jr., dean of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and author of The Paradox of American Power

About the Author

Richard K. Curtis earned the Air Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters as well as the Distinguished Flying Cross in World War II. After the war, he received a B.A. in theology from Northern Baptist Seminary in Chicago and an M.S. and Ph.D. in speech communication from Purdue University. He is the author of three previous books: They Called Him Mister Moody, Evolution or Extinction: The Choice Before Us, and Hubris and the Presidency: The Abuse of Power by Johnson and Nixon. He retired from the faculty of Purdue University in 1993.

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Customer Reviews

I found the author engaging and humorous.
W. G. Todd
His missions were like that of a lot of pilots during the war; Nothing much happened.
D. May
Anyone interested in World War II stores would enjoy reading this book.
L. Holladay

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Eva P. Ingle on August 16, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Richard Curtis was an 18 year old who enlisted in the Army Air Force in 1942 because he wanted to be a pilot and not be drafted without a choice in his role in World War II. He was a wild man when he got at the controls of the fighter planes, but he was disciplined enough to write detailed diaries during training and in Italy. He kept his letters from his wartime girlfriend. From these diaries and letters we learn about the escapades of the flyboys, in the air, in the barracks, and with the girls. We see the suffering of the Italians who lived near the US airbase--the children who begged for food and ate from the Army's garbage cans, and the women and girls who turned to prostitution to survive. From Lt. Curtis' viewpoint in the sky, we see the US bombers down below which have been hit by German fire and realize that another 14 GI's have probably been killed. We learn of the rationing of fuel oil and how it affected those living through a New England winter. I was a child during World War II, and this book was a great education for me about what actually went on during that time.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Paul Nielsen on August 13, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Here's a must read for anyone interested in the life of a combat pilot for any war, any nation. Lt. Curtis' story blends his training, combat, day to day activities, romance, and his own self-doubt with the major events of the WWII and the key decisions. It's facinating to read about how the decisions made by FDR and Churchill affected this man's life. I found myself pulling for Myrt to say yes, and feeling proud of the moral code Dick lived by. Here's a man I would have enjoyed meeting.

My father flew B-17s out of England, but he would speak very little about his experinces. This books fills in many of the gaps in my father's story. As a book author myself, I highly recommend this book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By W. G. Todd on April 30, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am a big fan of this book. The author was a human guinea pig who was sent to a front line fighter group with minimal training, as the government wanted to see how little training pilots could receive and still be effective and survive. This is not the usual account of a figher pilot, who normally tells you exactly how good he was. He candidly informs you how unprepared he was. The title says it all. I am also glad to hear about a unit and theater of war that is not often written about or published. The Eighth Airforce and the Fifteenth Airforce were partners that worked together to keep the enemy off balance. Together they did much to finish Nazi Germany. The Mighty Eighth is well covered in many books, especially a handful of groups. You could fit all that is written on the fifteenth on a short shelf. I found the author engaging and humorous. He also helps you see the ugly side of war, even though he flies the "glamorous" P-51 Mustang.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Brian Megahee on January 24, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book was well written and Mr. Curtis explains his exploits in great detail and without modesty as of most of us wouldn't be quick to admit that we were almost court martialed on several ocasions for disobeying flight restrictions, victory rolls over airfields, etc.

I don't want to give this book such a bad review even though I agree with a lot of the other reviews of this book about it lacks any combat at all really. I admire Mr. Curtis for wanting to be a minister and spending so much time in Italy with the chaplain there, that part of the book is great. This book is really not about a memoir, if you will, of a combat aviator but more of a memoir and life of a fighter pilot who was stationed in Italy, who wanted to be a minister, and was just counting the days of his 50th mission so he could go home. I would definately not read this book again and I'm sorry that in all honestly I would not recommend it to anyone else to read who loves books about aviation combat.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John Weekley on March 27, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The author served in the same fighter squadron as the man that I was later named after, who like many others gave the ultimate sacrifice. I found this book very enlightening, because it is not just a recount of the military strategy and the tactics of air battles, but a broad description of the culture, technology, training and hardships of a very young man doing his patriotic duty with honor. Mr Curtis reveals some of the reckless and foolish things that he and others did, and the lucky and un-lucky pilots that he served with. His colorful descriptions of the pilot's life in P-51 Mustangs and in Italy paint an vivid picture. The long-distance love story with his one-and-only Myrt adds another dimension.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John C. Henze on November 6, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is an easy read and goes into much detail on what daily lives were like from being an air cadet to being in combat. For those who want to get a vicarious description of a WW2 pilot this is highly recommended.

I also agree with the author's opinion that being a bomber pilot was so much less desirable to being a fighter pilot. The bravery of bomber pilots cannot be overstated in WW2 and yet they in effect won both the European and Pacific theaters.

The policy of taking raw pilots out of advanced training in AT6s and the throwing them into combat was planned murder in my opinion but then again I was not there and do not know all the details but wasting such assets seems so callus on the surface.
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