Customer Reviews


285 Reviews
5 star:
 (90)
4 star:
 (70)
3 star:
 (48)
2 star:
 (39)
1 star:
 (38)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


49 of 49 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Been There. Done That
I will leave the literary criticism to others, but THE WILD BLUE faithfully tells the story of my experience. I was a member of the 301st Bomb Group, 5th Wing (B-17s),15th Air Force. I flew my "50th mission," 30th sortie, on December 26, 1944. I feel that I can speak with some authority when I say that this book gets it right-our naivete, our training, the...
Published on December 8, 2001 by Onan A. Hill

versus
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Mild View of the Air War over Germany
I was with the Eighth Air Force in England and flew bombing missions over Germany in a B-17 in 1943-44. I hoped that Stephen Ambrose would use his excellent command of prose to describe the horror of those missions, whether in a B-24, B-17, Fifteenth Air Force in Italy, or Eighth Air Force in England. But it didn't happen. His description of combat is like sipping a glass...
Published on June 21, 2002 by George Webster, Ph.D.,


‹ Previous | 1 229 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

49 of 49 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Been There. Done That, December 8, 2001
By 
Onan A. Hill (McMinnville, Oregon, USA) - See all my reviews
I will leave the literary criticism to others, but THE WILD BLUE faithfully tells the story of my experience. I was a member of the 301st Bomb Group, 5th Wing (B-17s),15th Air Force. I flew my "50th mission," 30th sortie, on December 26, 1944. I feel that I can speak with some authority when I say that this book gets it right-our naivete, our training, the food, the plight of the Italians, the fact that we were often scared, and the fact that we did what we were trained to do. All of my combat experience was in B-17s. I have considerable experience in B-24s also, a frightening Air craft. Major Onan A. Hill, Navigator, USAFRes Ret
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


83 of 98 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Boys to men, August 20, 2001
This book has two central characters and is mostly a story about their shared experiences. The first subject is 2nd Lt. George McGovern, who in 1944 was just a typical US Army Air Force pilot; nothing here hints at the man, who, nearly 30 years later, would run for US president. The second is a machine, the B-24 Liberator, and one plane in particular - McGovern's "Dakota Queen", which he piloted on 35 bombing missions over Germany from his base in Cerignola, Italy, as part of the 741st Squadron, 455th Bomb Group. THE WILD BLUE then has a narrow focus and is less about the broad role of the bomber in the air war over Europe - that story about the more famous and glamorous B-17 and the 8th Air Force - has been told already in books like THE MIGHTY EIGHTH, a book which Ambrose himself read and rated highly.
The Liberator comes by it's neglected treatment in history, and it's earned reputation as an ugly duckling quite fairly, as the following description of conditions in the plane attests. "Steering the four-engined airplane was difficult and exhausting, as there was no power except the pilot's muscles. It had no windshield wipers, so the pilot had to stick his head out the side window to see during a rain...there was no heat, despite temperatures that at 20,000 feet and higher got as low as 40 or 50 degrees below zero...the seats were not padded, could not be reclined, and were cramped into so small a space that a man had almost no chance to stretch and none whatsoever to relax. Absolutely nothing was done to make it comfortable for the pilot, co-pilot, or the other eight men in the crew..." Yet, as with all ugly ducklings, it had it's day and earned it's admirers. There were more B-24's built than any other US airplane and Ambrose says "it would be an exaggeration to say that the B-24 won the war for the Allies. But don't ask how they could have won the war without it."
The greater emphasis of the book is on McGovern and his crew's experiences and it's in the telling of these stories where Ambrose's skills always shine; allowing the personal recollections of the participants to make the events come alive for us the readers. We follow the crew from induction through training to their arrival in Italy in 1944. There was danger from the outset. The book reveals that in basic and advanced flight training over 3,500 men lost their lives, 824 in 1943 alone; survival was an issue even before entering combat.
McGovern and his crew experienced their fair share of adventures on missions. On one flight an engine quit, then another was hit by flak; on two engines he was losing altitude rapidly but McGovern managed to nurse the bomber down for an emergency landing on an airstrip less than half the length the B-24 normally required. For this feat McGovern earned the Distinguished Flying Cross. By highlighting McGovern's experiences are we to believe that the book is portraying him as exceptional? Not at all. The reality is that when he arrived in Italy in 1944, McGovern was a 21 year old pilot. His co-pilot and navigator were the same age and half his crew were teenagers. What Ambrose sees as extraordinary is that these stories of survival, skill, courage, fortitude, bravery, and duty, are all, each and every single one, the exploits of very young men - even boys. Indeed he says "in the twenty-first century, adults would hardly give such youngsters the key to the family car, but in the first half of the 1940's the adults sent them out to play a critical role in saving the world."
They are now our aging parents and grandparents and all we can do is honor them and thank them for being men while they were still boys. We can only hope that written tributes such as THE WILD BLUE or the verse below are sufficient to show our appreciation to them.
"They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not grow faint." (Isaiah 40:31)
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Mild View of the Air War over Germany, June 21, 2002
I was with the Eighth Air Force in England and flew bombing missions over Germany in a B-17 in 1943-44. I hoped that Stephen Ambrose would use his excellent command of prose to describe the horror of those missions, whether in a B-24, B-17, Fifteenth Air Force in Italy, or Eighth Air Force in England. But it didn't happen. His description of combat is like sipping a glass of milk, when actual combat is like choking down a glass of tequila. It is probably asking too much of someone who wasn't there, but I didn't get the feeling of intense cold, frozen oxygen masks, altitude sickness, planes exploding around you, boys losing arms, legs, or heads, and men driven mad by fear. In four months of missions, my ten-man crew had five killed and two, including me, wounded. I lost so many friends that I stopped making friends because it hurt too much when I saw them die.
The book is mostly a story of former Senator George McGovern, as he trained and flew a B-24 on bombing missions at the end of the war against Germany. He apparently didn't have to face German fighters coming at him, but he flew many times through the awful box barrages of antiaircraft fire above German cities. I still don't know how any of us survived those.
The book has errors, but what book doesn't? Thus, I'll point out the first one, on the first page of Chapter One and let it go at that. He says, "They were all volunteers. The U.S. Army Air Corps - after 1942 the Army Air Forces - did not force anyone to fly." That is nonsense. Four members of my crew were draftees, and many other combat crews contained draftees. I was headed for a nice, safe job as a ground-based officer, when the Air Force sneakily gave me a flight physical.
Still, it's an enjoyable book. It's low-key and will be welcome if you don't like to read about the blood and gore of combat. I particularly liked learning that, after eating canned Spam for months, a U.S. Senator and candidate for President of the United States grew to hate the stuff as much as I did.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A great story, but the book is tepid, August 20, 2001
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I do not in any way want to diminish the actual bravery or skill of the personnel depicted in this book. But, as a book, this was disappointing. Ambrose's other WWII books are generally better, as books about WWII. If you want a serious look at the bomber war, go elsewhere. Finally, if you want a "popular" work on the "feel" of the bomber war, the video/DVD "Memphis Belle" (despite some Hollywoodization) is more moving. And, if you just want to read something good by Ambrose, try "Undaunted Courage" or his book on D-Day.
Summary: This is OK, but reads like a series of longish magazine articles stitched together. So -- the 3-star rating is "average" for an average book. For young teens interested in WWII, I would rate this higher; it is a good, quick read; my 11-year-old loved it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A SOLID READ - IF NOT THE AUTHOR'S BEST, July 16, 2006
While I enjoyed this one, it certainly was not the author's best work. It did draw attention to a group of very brave men, the B-24 crew members in the European Theater, which was good as this group and this plane is often overlooked. It did seem to me though that the author, on one side was trying to write a biography of George McGovern, or if he was trying to cover the air war during the last part of WWII. I did enjoy his trade mark technique of telling the stories of different men who participated, but he would always go back to McGovern. Perhaps if he had stuck to one or the other the book would have had more of an impact. Parts of this work did drag and were rather repetative. On the other hand, the author did not try to over dramatize McGovern's part in the war. The work was well crafted and you certainy would not waste your time in reading it. I suppose it is not quite fare to compare this work with other works by this author. After all, no one bats a thousand all the time. Overall, recommend this one with reservations. It is about very brave young men and we do need to know as much about them as possible.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Fantastic!!, August 17, 2001
By 
Stephan Ambrose has written something that verges upon legend. His accounting of the B-24, and George McGovern's time while assigned to the 455th is really a study in history. It also shows the tenacity with which he strives to include every detail.
The B-24 is the "lost sheep" of airpower in WWII. Everyone seems to be fascinated with the B-17, primarily because of the press it received. Also at the top of the list is the B-29, primarily because of the atomic bombs. However, the role that was played by the B-24 was, in fact, much larger, and amassed more scope. It just had the poor luck not to be identified as an icon.
One of the most important air raids in WWII was the raids on the Ploesti oilfields. B-24's handled this raid brilliantly. However, as history would have it, this one small fact has often been overlooked. Ask a handful of people today which bomber was used in this raid, and a large majority will not be able to tell you.
In his telling of the B-24, Stephan Ambrose has gone all-out. His descriptive tone of narration is exquisite, making you feel that you are actually in every inch of the aircraft. His in-depth look at the more famous raids puts you right there with the crew . . . so much that you can almost feel the shock wave from the flak, and hear the sounds of the cannon rounds as they whiz by.
All-in-all, this book is one for the ages. Finally, as the Tuskeegee Airmen book (and movie) did for those brave flyers, this book has finally given credit where it has been long overdue. The B-24 was aptly named "The Liberator", and it truly lived up to its name - liberating Europe and the world.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Wild Blue, September 19, 2001
By 
Thomas B. Ewing (High Point,, NC USA) - See all my reviews
If this is the first Ambrose book one would read. He or she may not want to read any of his others. It does not have the style and substance of his previous books. Too much fluff in the begining and too concentrated on one bomber crew. Poor sentence structure and jumbled story line confuse the reader. Some early chapters read like his rough notes were copied verbatim. It is still an intriguing story of the extreme dangers, fears and hardships the young men of our bomber crews had to endure.
If the facts of the story are true, and I believe they are, I gained a new respect for George McGovern and all the other men of the Bomber Command. Stephen Ambrose is a great chronicler of World War II. I have read them all and look forward to his next book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So Courageous...and So Young, September 21, 2001
Having read all of Ambrose's previous books, I began to read this one with certain expectations: That the nature and extent of his coverage of the subject, for example, would be comparable with his coverage of the Lewis and Clark expeditions and the construction of the Intercontinental Railroad. In fact it is not. What we seem to have is more of a briefing on rather than a definitive analysis of "the men and boys who flew the B-24s over Germany." It is a great read, combining a lucid and lively writing style with exceptionally interesting information. I had no idea how dangerous the B-24 was to fly. (Ambrose characterizes it as "sternly unforgiving.") Nor how unpleasant it was to fly in it. (According to Ambrose, the temperature in its unheated cabin was frequently sub-zero). It was called the Liberator or "Lib" for short but also had several other nicknames which included "Flying Box Car", "New York Harbor Garbage Scows with Wings", "Spam Can in the Sky", and "The Old Agony Wagon." I had forgotten that almost all of those who flew it as well as the B-17 (the "Flying Fortress") were in their early twenties. I was reminded of that fact, portrayed so vividly in the film Memphis Belle and ignored in an otherwise flawless film, Twelve O'Clock High.
Ambrose devotes much of his attention to pilot Lt. George McGovern (age 22) and his crew as they struggle to stay alive long enough to fulfill their strategic obligations while completing the required 35 missions. (McGovern later served as a U.S. Senator and was the Democratic Party's candidate for President in 1972.) This is a brilliant narrative device, first because McGovern and those who flew with him in the Dakota Queen are obviously representative of thousands of B-24 bomber crews but also because the historical and technical information provided by Ambrose is anchored within a human context, one which is often poignant and at times tragic. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has read one or more of Ambrose's previous books; also to those who have a special interest in World War Two; and finally, to those who share my amazement and admiration when introduced to unexceptional people whose accomplishments are anything but.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very Interesting, but not as good as Band of Brothers, March 15, 2002
By 
Gus Ramage (Charleston, SC) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Unlike other Ambrose WWII books which focus primarily on the European ground war, Wild Blue focuses on the bombing runs ran from Italy.
In attempts to crush the supply and manufacturing capabilities of German petroleum, Allied leadership called upon the young men of America to fly B-24s and bomb the German industries. It was the shortage of fuel that crippled the German Army and the Luftwaffe. Another advantage of the German fuel crisis was their inability to use their new jet technology which could have devastated the Allied offensive.
While the book was very interesting to read, some aspects of the book have left me slightly dissatisfied. From accounts of a B-24 pilot I know there were gross exaggerations of the difficulty of flying the B-24. I also noticed that this book is essentially a wartime biography of George McGovern, and as a result does not mention the air fought from England.
Another criticism of this book is the way it was written. This book does not seem to even be written by the same author of "Citizen Soldiers" and "Band of Brothers". This book seems to be less thoroughly researched and written more hastily than this other works.
Whereas this is not a great book about WWII itself, I reccommend this book for anyone who is intensely interested in WWII bombing missions, or the B-24 craft itself.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Making the Right Decisions, August 15, 2001
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
Review Summary: The Wild Blue is a five-star book from each of several perspectives. First, you will learn about how the United States went from having few aviation resources to fielding a larger air force than that of all the other nations combined in World War II. The complexities and careful thinking through of what needed to be done are most impressive. Second, you will learn about the role that strategic bombing played in the European theater of operations during that war. Third, you will learn what it was like to become a B-24 pilot, from the day a man volunteered to the day he returned home to the United States. Fourth, you will experience combat conditions against German fighters and flak in a lumbering, sluggish bomber in extremely difficult conditions. Fifth, you will find out how such a war-time experience changes a person�s view of themselves and others. Sixth, you will also learn about the formative influences of war on one of the most prominent American peace advocates, former senator George McGovern. If you are like me, you will never see the war in Europe in quite the same way again after you read The Wild Blue.
Review: My father served on the ground in England as part of the famous Eighth Air Force in World War II. My father-in-law was a navigation instructor for bomber pilots during World War II. Although both men are proud of their service, they only tell the positive side of the air war in Europe. During rare moments over the years, they have alluded to some of the more personal and challenging sides of those years. My mother shares hints of some recurring nightmares from what other wives have told her at Air Force reunions. Although Professor Ambrose�s account is not as dark as the worst that I have heard, his lively and thorough narrative helped me to fill in many spaces where I lacked understanding of what these men had shared with me. For example, my dad had told me that the Fifteenth Air Force often had it worse than the Eighth late in the war. Since The Wild Blue focuses on the Fifteenth, I was able to understand what he was describing for me. I look forward to sharing this book with both my father and father-in-law and hearing what their reactions are to the material here. Very few books have ever helped me to understand these important men in my life as much as this one did.
I have always been impressed by former senator McGovern�s commitment to peace and humanitarian concerns. I knew that he had been a bomber pilot in World War II, but little else about his war-time service. The book contains many interesting insights into his character that added to my admiration, and increased my understanding of the stands he has taken. As he characterized his experience of being a pilot, �I literally exhausted every resource of mind and body and spirit that I had.� You will find these revelations more interesting if you read about them yourself, but I encourage you to pay close attention to stories about bombs dropped inadvertently.
Professor Ambrose has used accounts from many different people to capture the full dimension of the air war. I learned so much that I find it hard to believe that the book was so brief. Normally, I wouldn�t learn this much from a book of 1000 pages. The mechanism of primarily following former senator McGovern�s squadron was a good way to capture the grit of the small details while using them to illustrate the important, larger picture. Each perspective enhances the other.
The book also contains some excellent black-and-white photographs that usefully elaborate on the written materials.
I liked the way that Professor Ambrose took on the moral issues involved in the bombing. The civilian deaths were enormous from these raids, even though civilians were not the targets. Briefings described the important cultural sites in each area, and ordered the bombers to avoid them. Some bombing raids went near the death camps, but did not target them. At various times, the rate of lost crews approached suicidal levels. How much risk was it fair to ask these brave crews to take? Without imposing his own answers, he provides lots of room for your own thoughts on these and other important ethical issues.
I was powerfully moved by imagining myself in the various cramped positions in a B-24 over enemy territory, being exposed to danger and observing serious losses of my friends all around. Although I have seen many movies and television shows on this subject, The Wild Blue took my understanding of this experience to a much different and more personal level.
After you have finished learning from this outstanding book, I suggest that you think about ways that your most private experiences can be captured and shared with your children and grandchildren . . . so that the important lessons will be available to all those who need them in the future.
Learn from the challenges of the past to overcome the hurdles of the future.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 229 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

The Wild Blue: The Men and Boys Who Flew the B-24s Over Germany 1944-45
The Wild Blue: The Men and Boys Who Flew the B-24s Over Germany 1944-45 by Stephen E. Ambrose (Paperback - May 7, 2002)
$16.99 $14.74
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Rate and Discover Movies
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.