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The Last Mission of the Wham Bam Boys: Courage, Tragedy, and Justice in World War II Hardcover – May 24, 2011


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The Last Mission of the Wham Bam Boys: Courage, Tragedy, and Justice in World War II + The Forgotten 500: The Untold Story of the Men Who Risked All for the Greatest Rescue Mission of World War II
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Trade; 1 edition (May 24, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230108547
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230108547
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #667,120 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A re-creation of the first war crimes trial after World War II! a history making trial, setting the tone for Nuremberg. A chilling tale .. [and] a riveting narrative." -Kirkus Reviews "Freeman has once again crafted a gripping, cinematic narrative -- one that raises important questions about justice and morality in a time of industrial annihilation of civilian populations. A timely and riveting story of heroism and horror." -Alex Kershaw, best selling author of The Longest Winter and The Bedford Boys 'With The Last Mission of the Wham Bam Boys, Gregory A. Freeman delivers a thorough, artful, and absolutely riveting account of a fascinating yet tragic story of war, humanity, and justice. Freeman again proves that he ranks among today's finest historical storytellers.' -Alvin Townley, author of Fly Navy and Legacy of Honor 'The Last Mission of the Wham Bam Boys is the gripping and insightful story of the Wham Bam crews first and last combat mission. Meticulously researched and masterfully written, Gregory Freeman expertly weaves the history of the crew with the historic events that followed after they were shot down and captured. This is a fascinating and engrossing book that will be read for many decades.' -Brigadier General Don Harvel, Deputy Commander, Texas Air National Guard "Gregory A. Freeman's The Last Mission of the Wham Bam Boys is a compelling, thought-provoking, and harrowing account of how a seemingly minor, brutal incident during World War II touched, and devastated, countless lives. It's a well-written, exhaustively researched, and thoroughly human story that shows how war can bring out the worst, and the best, in combatants and noncombatants alike. Haunting." -James Carl Nelson, author of The Remains of Company D: A Story of the Great War

About the Author

Gregory A. Freeman is an award-winning writer with more than 25 years of experience in journalism and historical nonfiction. He has won over two dozen awards for his writing, including the coveted Sigma Delta Chi Award for Excellence from the Society of Professional Journalists. His books include Troubled Water, The Forgotten 500, and the acclaimed Sailors to the End.


More About the Author

Gregory A. Freeman is an award-winning writer with more than 25 years experience in journalism and narrative nonfiction. Known for writing books that make a true story read like a gripping, fast paced novel, Freeman is quickly becoming one of the most respected and successful authors in the field of narrative nonfiction.

Freeman's books are scrupulously researched and entirely factual, yet they read more like novels because he weaves the "stranger than fiction" personal stories of his subjects into a compelling narrative. Each project requires intensive research - getting to know the subjects personally and probing for previously undisclosed documents. Freeman also explores the subject matter himself, whether that means flying onto the deck of an aircraft carrier at sea or gaining access to the most restricted parts of the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, military prison. But the most important parts of the books are the often intensely personal, emotional interviews with the men and women who were there. Their personal stories make up the heart of Freeman's work, the part that most connects with the reader.

In addition to his books, Freeman writes for a wide range of magazines and other publications, including Reader's Digest, Rolling Stone, American History, and World War II.

Freeman has won more than a dozen awards for his writing, including the coveted Sigma Delta Chi Award for Excellence from the Society of Professional Journalists - twice in five years. He attended the University of Georgia in Athens and began his writing career there, working for newspapers while studying journalism and political science.

After receiving his degree, he went on to work for The Associated Press in Atlanta and then spent several years as executive editor of a publishing company. He then became a freelance writer, editor, and author.

Known for writing narrative nonfiction that makes a true story read like a gripping, fast paced novel, Freeman's latest work is The Gathering Wind: Hurricane Sandy, the Sailing Ship Bounty, and a Courageous Rescue at Sea, released October 29, 2013, by New American Library, an imprint of Penguin Books. This book tells the story of the tall sailing Bounty, which was lost off the coast of North Carolina during Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. Answering many of the questions prompted by that terrible loss, The Gathering Wind is a compelling drama about the crew, the Coast Guard rescuers, and the investigations that followed.

Freeman's earlier book The Last Mission of the Wham Bam Boys tells the story of a World War II bomber crew that is shot down over Germany and then lynched by local townspeople, leading to the first war crimes trial after the conflict ended. Kirkus Reviews called it "A chilling tale" and "a riveting narrative."

Freeman also published Troubled Water: Race, Mutiny and Bravery on the USS Kitty Hawk in September 2009, also with Palgrave Macmillan. Troubled Water tells a little known story of a race riot on the carrier Kitty Hawk in 1972, focusing on the two senior officers who will determine whether this already tragic episode ends peacefully or spirals down into one of the darkest moments in Navy history. Just prior to that, Freeman co-authored a book with Col. Larry C. James, the U.S. Army psychologist who was sent to stop the abuse at the notorious military prison in Abu Ghraib, Iraq. Fixing Hell: An Army Psychologist Confronts Evil at Abu Ghraib, released in August 2008, tells the harrowing tale of a man struggling to be both a military officer and a medical professional, while also revealing previously unknown details about the prison scandal and how the system was improved.

James Bradley, bestselling author of Flags of Our Fathers, Flyboys, and The Imperial Cruise praises Freeman as a talented author whose books provide an important service to the country. Bradley says of Freeman's latest, Troubled Water: "Gregory Freeman has dug out the true hidden story of the first mutiny in the history of the U.S. Navy. You'll enjoy this high-seas thriller."

Freeman won wide acclaim for The Forgotten 500: The Untold Story of the Men Who Risked All for the Greatest Rescue Mission of World War II, published in 2007 by New American Library. This popular book tells the fascinating but previously unknown story of Operation Halyard, a super secret and ultra risky rescue mission to save downed American airmen in Nazi-occupied Yugoslavia. Malcolm McConnell, #1 New York Times bestselling coauthor of American Soldier, says of The Forgotten 500: "Freeman chronicles [the story] with a master's touch for detail. Although this book reads like a fast paced novel, it is based on scores of probing interviews and meticulous archival research." Gregg Olsen, New York Times bestselling author of The Deep Dark, says The Forgotten 500 is "a literary and journalistic achievement of the highest order, a book that illuminates, thrills and reminds us that heroes sometimes do live among us. It will take your breath away."

Before that, Freeman saw great success with Sailors to the End: The Deadly Fire on the USS Forrestal and the Heroes Who Fought It, originally published in July 2002 by William Morrow. In Sailors to the End, Freeman tells the story of the young men aboard an aircraft carrier in 1967, following their life-and-death struggles through an accidental fire that threatens to destroy the world's most powerful ship. Sailors to the End was enthusiastically embraced by the military community and general interest readers alike. One reviewer said, "The book grabs readers and leaves them emotionally exhausted. In particular, the description of the death of sailor James Blaskis in a remote and inaccessible part of the ship cannot leave a reader unmoved." A Kirkus Reviews writer called Sailors to the End "a compassionate account of a dramatic incident in modern naval history, told with cinematic immediacy and narrative skill." Senator John McCain, who was injured in the fire, endorsed the book and called it "a riveting account" that honors the men who died.

In Lay This Body Down: The 1921 Murders of Eleven Plantation Slaves, Freeman paints a vivid picture of a plantation run with slave labor 56 years after the Civil War. Melissa Fay Greene, author of The Temple Bombing and Praying for Sheetrock, called Lay This Body Down a "magnificently well-written book." Library Journal's Robert C. Jones wrote that "this moving narrative account is arguably the most complete history of this event available."

See the author's web site at www.gregoryafreeman.com.

Amazon Author Rankbeta 

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#89 in Books > History
#89 in Books > History

Customer Reviews

The Wham Bam Boys featured meticulously created characters and a gripping story--I couldn't put it down once I got it.
Melissa Meinert
I do not mean to excuse in the least the conduct of the Russelsheim citizens who participated in these brutal killings.
Eric F. Facer
Since I already "knew the story" - I was surprised to find that I could not put the book down until I'd read all of it.
jm

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Robert Huddleston on August 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
At the time of the Wham Bam incident I was flying combat missions with a fighter-bomber unit. One of my fellow pilots had a forced landing and we learned he was murdered. Years later the perpetrators were caught, tried by a Military Tribunal and executed. Thus I made a very personal connection to the Freeman book and I applaud the results.
As for those who choose to believe that the Allied bombing campaign invited- even justified- the treatment of the Wham Bam airmen, I can only suggest they tend to overlook who we were fighting; an agressor nation that introduced the bombing of populations centers such as Warsaw and Rotterdam.
Let me also add that the Germans were convicted partly through the testimony of citizens of Russelsheim who were appalled at what they had witnessed. And that the affair was reopened in 1985 by citizens of Russelsheim who erected a marker identifying those Americans who were assaulted and murdered; a way of asking forgivness, I believe, for the sins of earlier Germans.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By jm on July 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a well researched and accurate account of a tragic event from WWII. While I had heard much of the story from my brother-in-law while he was alive, he left out many of the horrible details of his ordeal. Since I already "knew the story" - I was surprised to find that I could not put the book down until I'd read all of it. I have ordered copies of the book for my adult children. They saw their uncle as a hero in everyday life - and he and his comrades were true heroes in every sense of the word.
Thank you Mr. Freeman!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Charlotte Minnoe on July 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I could not put this book down once I started reading it.
Through Gregory Freeman's writing of this particular horrific story of World War II, I came closer than ever to the emotions and tradegies of war. I was wrapped up personally in the lives of soldiers and civilians on both sides of the war.
This story describes how humans cope in the face of fear and how they either react with weakness and anger or display courage and compassion. Most importantly, it is a reminder of those who risk their lives for freedom.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By D. Dyer on August 26, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was a sad book. But when you realize what is going on in our world today you feel nothing will change with the inhumanity of human beings. Just look at Iraq ,Sierra, Israel, Palestine and on and on. But until the world brings God back into it's life we are not out of the woods.
Gregory Freeman is a fine author and really can tell a story.
I gave it four stars only because it made me so sad to read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Dipasqua on March 29, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is extremely well written and talks about one of the last missions of World war 11 and the very first war crimes trial once the war ended. It also fast forwards fifty years as the town that was bombed collectively attempts to atone for their actions against the bomber crew. Fans of second world war history will find this an exciting read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Teremy on July 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Freeman did an excellent job bringing to life a tragic story from years past into current time. As I read the story, it was as if the tragedy had just occurred. With the current state of US involvement in two wars, the story brings home the great sacrifices that the Armed Forces had to make and reminds us of the continued sacrifices made today on the nation's behalf. Freeman spoke for those who were unable to speak for themselves. He provided insight to the world of war as well as to the world of the home front through the airmen's families, waiting and praying for the return of their loved ones. You don't have to be a war buff to enjoy this book, the message is clear. Remember those we lost who died for the Freedom we as Americans share today.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Melissa Meinert on June 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I had very much enjoyed Freeman's past books so I picked this one up as soon as it was released.

Freeman has a way of telling a true historical story but making it read like a gripping novel. The Wham Bam Boys featured meticulously created characters and a gripping story--I couldn't put it down once I got it. It is amazing that such an amazing story hadn't been told yet. Two thumbs way up for another great read from Freeman.
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My uncle, William Dumont, was a crew member on this plane who was murdered in Russelsheim in August, 1944. I grew up learning about how he had died and how difficult the experience had been for my mother and her family. So, as the 70th anniversary of his death approached, I was trying to see what items had been published, if any, about this event. I found Mr. Freeman's story telling about the details and, especially, the court-martial to be very interesting and added some details that I did not already know. He relied most heavily on the families of the survivors, but should have checked on some assertions. I asked both my mother and uncle if anyone from the crew had contacted them, and both said none had done so. He also makes some generalized assertions about what was happening with the families while their sons/brothers were declared MIA. It would have been nice had he attempted to contact some surviving family members of the crew, apart from the pilot's daughter and spouse, to add some specificity to their stories as well.
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