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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sex, Lies, and B-17's
The life of Robert Morgan, the pilot of the Memphis Belle, reads like a cross between Flags of Our Fathers and a romance novel. He grew up in the mountains of Asheville, NC and his family were friends of the Vanderbilts. His mother's suicide starts him on a life long search for someone to replace her love. He tells about this search in very candid and blunt fashion...
Published on May 17, 2001 by Jeffrey M. Hyder

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29 of 35 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Underwhelming!!!
I bought TMWFTMB on the strength of the glowing--make that gushing--reviews on this site. Was I ever disappointed!!!
There can be no doubt that, despite his protests to the contrary, Bob Morgan is an American hero in every sense of the term. The man flew 51 combat missions in World War II. Those of us born since the war owe him a debt that can never be...
Published on November 10, 2003


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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sex, Lies, and B-17's, May 17, 2001
By 
Jeffrey M. Hyder (Knoxville, TN United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
The life of Robert Morgan, the pilot of the Memphis Belle, reads like a cross between Flags of Our Fathers and a romance novel. He grew up in the mountains of Asheville, NC and his family were friends of the Vanderbilts. His mother's suicide starts him on a life long search for someone to replace her love. He tells about this search in very candid and blunt fashion that I found both wonderful and sad. The one lady he does fall in love with was the Memphis Belle(the plane and the lady) and the book follows both his missions over Europe with her(the plane) and her crew as well as what happens to her when the war was over. After his 25th mission he and his crew were sent back to the United States to sell war bonds and keep the home front morale up. This bond tour has one unintended side effect, it destroyes his love affair with the planes name sake (the real Memphis Belle). Needless to say, with women fawning over him, Mr Morgan's womanizing hits an all time high. After the bond tour he signs up for a tour of duty flying missions over Japan. He is invloved in several famous fire bomb missions over Japan.
No doubt some people will be turned off by his womanizing and cheating ways. However, if you can get past that you will find one of the most amazing war books I have read in some time. Mr Morgan saw as much action as any bomber in WWII and his casual writing style is really wonderful.
The books last chapter shows that you can go home again and you can find what you have been searching for. It is a touching ending. Mr Morgan is still alive and kicking and all I can say is I would love to sit down with him and just talk about his life. He is a true hero!
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29 of 35 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Underwhelming!!!, November 10, 2003
By A Customer
I bought TMWFTMB on the strength of the glowing--make that gushing--reviews on this site. Was I ever disappointed!!!
There can be no doubt that, despite his protests to the contrary, Bob Morgan is an American hero in every sense of the term. The man flew 51 combat missions in World War II. Those of us born since the war owe him a debt that can never be repaid!
That said, TMWFTMB is riddled with errors! FDR's Secretary of War was Henry Stimson, not Harold Stimson. Curtis LeMay headed the Strategic Air Command, not the Strategic Defense Command. The prototype for the P-51 Mustang was not a Curtiss NA-73, it was a North American NA-73. On a B-29 the bombardier was not "down in the bomb bay," he was in the nose. The superchargers on a B-17 were not under the fuselage, they were under the nacelles (the part of the wing where the engines are mounted). Dana Andrews did not play an ex-pilot in "The Best Years of Our Lives," he played an ex-bombardier. Aviation history has been my passion since childhood but I've never heard of an aircraft called a "Schmitt 110." Perhaps Col. Morgan meant a Messerschmitt 110. The list goes on. After a while I only kept reading to see what gaff would turn up next.
Lighten up, you say. Little mistakes like these (how many did you catch?) don't matter. I disagree. The generation that fought and won World War II will, sadly, soon be gone. (We will not see their like again!) It will then fall to a handful of historians (myself included) to pass on the stories of their courage and sacrifice. A flop like this makes it all the more difficult to do that accurately.
I don't place one iota of blame on Col. Morgan for any of this. He is now well into his eighties and can be forgiven for a goof here and there. What I want to know is where was the co-author? Where were the editors and the fact-checkers? They were asleep at the wheel or don't know the first thing about World War II aerial operations or American life in the forties. Col. Morgan deserved to have his story well told. His supporting cast failed him miserably.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Into the wild blue yonder...and back., September 26, 2001
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Is this a good read? Yes it is, but not necessarily for the accounts of combat missions flown by Robert Morgan, pilot of the famed Memphis Belle, the first B-17 of the 8th Air Force to successfully complete 25 missions, and memoralized by William Wyler's photography and, in 1990, by a movie. More to the point, the story is one of what happened to the heroes of WWII, to those who flew, who were in the foxholes, who strode the deck of a warship. Did everyone come back to marry, buy a house, have children and live happpily ever after? Read this book and perhaps you'll understand in a small way what war meant and what it meant to those who fought in it.
Raised in upper class surroundings in Ashville, North Carolina, Robert Morgan seemed to have a care-free life of good times, fast cars, and plenty of women. But World War II intevenes and Morgan, at loose ends, joins an expanding Air Corps in late 1940. He fell in love with flying, but his career was often jeporadized by his propensities for buzzing buildings and beaches, and his disregard for proper military attire and the finer points of military discipline. There is no doubt of Morgan's abilities and courage, however, because in 1943, after a lengthy tour with his Memphis Belle and crew on a bond drive, he volunteers for the brand new B-29 program. As a squadron commander, Lt. Colonel Morgan is part of the 73rd Bomb Wing, based on Saipan, and flies the first B-29 mission to Tokyo, November 1944, in "Dauntless Dotty." After twenty-six often perilous missions, he is grounded and returned to the States in the summer of 1945. Later discharged, Morgan returns to civilian life with wife and now children and enters the business world begun by his father and headed by his brother, David.
But Robert Morgan's flying career is only part of his story. The other is his personal journey, a trek tinged with sadness and search Despite the privileges and luxury, his father was distant and his beloved mother, a friend of the Vanderbilts, was often away. The suicide of his mother when Morgan was 18 was a serious psychic blow, perhaps accounting in part for his numerous love affairs and marriages. As was true with many others who had seen too many friends killed or lost, Morgan continues for years after the war to wonder "why was I spared, my buddies killed." A drinking problem becomes more serious and it is not until Morgan seeks help from his "Command Pilot," God, and counsel from Billy Graham, does to come to grips with the demons that plagued his life.
Another story is also told; the story of Morgan's greatest love, "The Memphis Belle" and his efforts and those of others to have this fabled plane properly enshrined in Memphis. May Morgan and his "Memphis Belle" have tranquil times in their remaining year.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amazingly frank and personal autobiography, December 24, 2003
By 
Michael A Dorosh (Calgary, AB, CANADA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Leaving aside the question of historical accuracy (this has been touched on ably by another reviewer) except for one comment - I was a little unconvinced by Morgan's soliloquy's on WW II grand strategy, such as his explanations of how the war in Russia was fought, and other things that he as a 23-25 year old bomber pilot would have known little about and perhaps cared even less. These parts of the book come across as forced.
Having said that, however, I have no doubt Morgan felt them necessary to put the overall story into context, and they do that well. This makes the book perfect for youngsters or those with no understanding of the larger picture of WW II history, and thus provide this with a broader appeal.
But the meat of the story is Morgan himself. This is not "just" a story of a WW II bomber pilot, this is a wonderfully told story of Bob Morgan, the man, and a blushingly honest discussion of his many demons - his relationship with his departed mother, his father and siblings, his girlfriends, fiancees and wives, his crew (many of whom were fast friends), his superiors, and a terrific look at how he grew up, trained for war, matured as a commander, lived as a returning veteran, and overcame the evils of a pampered upbringing, and learned the value of hard work.
The details about his tour with the 8th Bomber Command were especially interesting, and his revelations about the WW II documentary about his aircraft will answer many questions for ardent Memphis Belle fans who always wondered how much of the 1943 documentary was real (apparently, not much), and also records what Morgan thought of the 1990 film with Matthew Modine (apparently, not much).
His tour in B-29s is also well discussed. This is very much a terrific human interest story which just happens to take place in flak-filled skies. It's certainly more Twelve O'Clock High, with its introspection, than it is Monte Merrick's Memphis Belle, with its cartoon heroics.
Colonel Morgan is to be commended for his bravery in baring his soul to the rest of us, for trying to make sense of his life in a way that we can all learn, for admitting to the hurt he has caused others, and allowing us to relate to his own hurts. He was a courageous man at 23 - he had to be - but now, of his own accord, I think he is even braver in his 80s for writing this thoroughly inspirational book.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Story from an Amazing Time, July 5, 2001
By A Customer
This is not just a story about the famous B-17, but also a tale of the man who flew her and his crew. It is a wonderful story that reveals much of the man his life. The narrative is well balanced between great achievement and humbleness, and provides plently of action along with some of that normal life that the rest of us mortals must live. I felt moved by the segment towards the end where the aircraft is finally given a proper display in Memphis, which happens to be where the narrative began at the beginning of the story. Highly recommended.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent - Bittersweet, June 6, 2002
By A Customer
This book was not a typical day by day look at the missions this plane flew. It was a review of Bob Morgan's life before, during, and after the war. He analyzes, with humor, his life before he entered the Army Air Forces; the search for love after his mother died; his baptism to war; the endless tour of the plane and crew after their 25th mission; his role in the Pacific theater; and how he handled life after the war. The book is excellently written and has enough humor to keep the reader smiling. But, there is enough to make one know that war was serious and Bob Morgan certainly lets you know that war is deadly serious.
He tells how war changed his life and talks about the treatment the soldiers faced after the war. Finally, he describes the ghosts he chased and drowned in drink trying to forget. And, he sadly chronicles the near fate of the Memphis Belle and how the US nearly relegated the plane to the scrap heap.
Just an incredible book. I highly recommend it.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The life and times of the first American pilot in WWII to survive 25 missions over Europe, October 18, 2005
By 
Marvin D. Pipher (Houston, Texas USA) - See all my reviews
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For those who may not know: In the early days of World War II the United States had no long range fighters capable of protecting our bombers all the way to their European targets. Even so, and unlike the British who flew only night bombing raids which were much safer but largely ineffective, the American fliers were tasked to continue flying higher precision yet much more dangerous daylight missions. As a consequence, the attrition rate for American bombers and their crews was grimly and almost unacceptably high. To bolster morale, a policy was initiated such that any bomber crewman completing twenty-five missions without being shot down and captured or killed would be relieved of duty and returned to the United States. The "Memphis Belle" was the first bomber to successfully achieve that milestone.

Having heard about the Memphis Belle for most of my life, I was curious to read the real story of that famed B-17 and its equally famous 25th mission, particularly from the standpoint of the bomber's pilot. I wasn't disappointed. In fact, the story went far beyond that bomber and its mission and was much more interesting. For through the eyes of the book's author you could almost sense what it was like to experience his life and times and know what it was REALLY like to actually pilot a B-17 into combat. . . Ignore the German fighters. Don't drift. Ignore the flack. Don't let your mind wander. Keep your eyes fixed straight ahead. Keep your plane in formation. Try to relax. Don't let your wings touch. Bomber pilots apparently had a very narrow view of the war.

The remarkable thing to me about the book, however, was that Robert Morgan wrote it quite late in his life. To me, that broadened his perspective, lending much more insight to the story. In fact, I don't think a young Captain Morgan could have written a book with such clarity, honesty, perspective and sensitivity. Bottom line: This is a very good book and not just from a historical point of view.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Honest, Interesting Story of a Living Legend, February 15, 2002
Robert Morgan had fame thrust upon him for being the pilot of arguably the first air crew to complete the obigatory 25 missions alive and in one piece. The Memphis Belle flew early on in the war, without the benefit of effective long-range fighter escort, a time of heavy losses for the US 8th Air Force, and the US government, looking for a way to publicize the successes of the US bombing campaign, decided to put together a film about one crew--the Memphis Belle was selected. William Wyler masterfully put together one of the finest documentaries of World War II, and a legend was born. In this respect, Morgan was somewhat of an accidental legend, as was his plane. However, Morgan's willingness to return to combat as a pilot of a B-29 in the Pacific when he could have taken it easy and rested on his laurels, proves him to be a man of true heroic qualities. This book deserves to be read, if for no other reason that that it is written by a man who experienced aerial combat in both theaters of combat in World War II. Morgan and his co-writer have done a masterful job of telling the story of what it was like to be a bomber pilot in World War II. The human element is there as well, as Morgan reflects on his personal successes and failures, on his agony at writing letters to the families of crewmen shot down, of his coming to know God after being a Hell-raiser, his problems with alcohol and a failed business, and eventual success and contentment later in life. The Memphis Belle and her crew are living legends, and the story Robert Morgan has to tell goes way beyond a surface treatment of that legend. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in the true story of the Memphis Belle, and anyone who simply likes a good biography, honestly told.
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5.0 out of 5 stars a WWII Sleeper, June 20, 2014
By 
reader sam (philadelphia, pa. United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Man Who Flew the Memphis Belle: Memoir of a WWII Bomber Pilot (Paperback)
I ordered this book after watching the film about the plane, and the reading experience was even more satisfying than I had expected. The book received somewhat mixed reviews because of the breezy style of the narrator that included a lot of personal, non-combat anecdotes; however, his reminiscences about growing up pre- world war gave an appealing insight in to that generation. Col. Morgan was a self proclaimed rascal, but to me, a most endearing and positive person - his depiction of flying over Europe as the chief pilot of his beloved airplane is validly vivid - he puts you right in the aircraft- and makes me wonder how those young men could face such incredible danger and high casualty rates day after day. Both the personal and historical information make this work a must for those of us fascinated by the "greatest generation."
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating story, April 12, 2014
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This review is from: The Man Who Flew the Memphis Belle: Memoir of a WWII Bomber Pilot (Paperback)
I first saw the movie that was made from this book in the early 1990's. I read the book afterwards, and I really enjoyed it. Books are usually so much better than the movie that it was based on. Much detail, and I enjoyed reading about Robert Morgan's time flying during WWII.
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The Man Who Flew the Memphis Belle: Memoir of a WWII Bomber Pilot
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