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Twelve O'Clock High Paperback – August, 1993

ISBN-13: 978-0942397161 ISBN-10: 0942397169
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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Buckeye Aviation Book Co (August 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0942397169
  • ISBN-13: 978-0942397161
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #724,762 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Roy Jaruk on April 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
Twelve O'Clock High is, of course, one of the best works of fiction about the air war in Europe ever to be published. But that is not why it's still required reading at America's service academies. The book is a fascinating study in the psychology of command and commanders. It explores the satisfaction of command - taking a dispirited air group and turning it around to become the point of the 8th Air Force's aerial spear, and changing a group of crybabies into a disciplined, proud unit. It also shows the price in human lives and mental anguish inflicted upon a commanding officer who must, time and again, order his men into battle with the certain knowledge that some of them won't be coming back. It further offers hints on how a commanding officer can deal with the stress he must needs inflict upon himself, and shows clearly the fine line a leader walks between familiarity and emotional disassociation. In some ways the book is almost a roman a clef, particularly in the characters of Savage, Bishop and McIlhenney, with the action itself a composite of various air actions, including the notorious "Black Thursday" raid of October,1943 on the Schweinfurt ball bearing works. But for all that, it's still a compelling read for all who are interested in what makes miltary leaders tick. This book cannot be recommended too highly, and it is so superior to the movie that there is no comparison. I rate it as a "must-read."
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Wayne Nye on August 7, 1999
Format: Paperback
Twelve O'Clock High! is the story of the 8th U.S. Army Air Force in England during World War II. Written by authors Beirne Lay and Sy Bartlett, both original staff officers of the 8th Air Force, this novel draws heavily from actual experiences of airmen in battle and their commanders on the ground. This is "must reading" for any serious aviation enthusiast or historian, as the book weaves a spell-binding and realistic tale of drama, action, and human suffering. A chronicle of patriotism, Twleve O'Clock High! is the novel of America's "Gettysburg in the Sky."
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Rob Morris on January 10, 2001
Format: Hardcover
The novel "Twelve O'Clock High" is a classic. It is written by a man who lived the experiences he writes about. I am a historian currently researching my own books on the air war in WWII, and the Air Corps veterans that I have talked to spoke highly of the book and found it accurate. This novel is more than a straight "Bang-bang-shoot-em-up" war story. It has plenty of action scenes, but what sets it apart is Lay's ability to get inside the heads of the characters and show how men react and intereact under the extreme stresses of battle. The characterization is complex, the characters three-dimensional and conflicted externally and internally. The battle scenes are exciting, the plot keeps readers guessing and turning the pages. If a person likes a war book with a little more in the way of character development, this is for them. The book is not terribly long. It can be easily read on a plane flight or on a long, boring afternoon.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By DANIEL E. WYATT on March 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
Lt.Col.Beirne Lay, Jr. USAAF flew B-17 combat missions in the European Theatre in World War II. He created the 918th Bomb Group by putting together his unit the 91st Bomb Group and the 8th Air Force. Brig. Gen. Frank Savage was based on the real Brig. Gen. Frank Armstrong. After World War II Lay and writer Sy Barlett wrote the novel and the 1949 Screen Play 12'O CLOCK HIGH. This book is excellent.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 8, 1999
Format: Hardcover
The book tells the story of an Air Force leaders struggle to turn around the morale and effective-ness of a heavy bomb group in the European Theater of Operations during the Second World War; and by so doing very possibily save the role of strategic bombing in the overall strategy for the conduct and execution of that war. The book unfortunately is not as focused and as effective as the 1949 motion picture of the same name starring Gregory Peck (as General Savage).
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Schmerguls VINE VOICE on June 18, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a 1948 novel laid in England during the time when American fliers were gearing up and commencing bombing Europe. Frank Savage ia an Air Corps officer who takes over a bomb group and the account of his leadership is well-done, and judging from the background of the authors of the book I assume is a realistic portrayal. The accounts of some of the raids over Europe are also very realistic and gripping. Some of the story, especially the romantic part, is less interesting.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By T.M. Reader on September 11, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I usually refrain from doing book vs. movie comparisons - when I do, the book usually wins by a mile and then I get beat up on Amazon by film fans that don't read. Not the case here . . . .

I've watched the movie several times over the years since I was first mesmerized by it as a child. Well, I finally got around to reading the novel. What a disappointment.

I can explain succinctly: Notwithstanding the excellent preface, where Major Stovall bicycles up to the abandoned bomber base, the rest of the book is general fare about power politics with a sub-plot of romance. It could have as easily been set in a corporate office or a shoe factory. The background here happens to be a WWII American B-17 base in England. The softcover copy I read contained 275 pages. The reader is not taken inside of an airborne B-17 Flying Fortress until page 246, and the plane sets down 18 pages later. THAT IS ALL of the combat flying in this book. The rest is, and I repeat, power politics and (an unrealistic in my opinion) romance. From a combat aviation perspective, this was a short story prefaced by 245 pages of pulp fiction romance/intrigue. And yes, the writing is pulp fiction level, including the flying part. The aviation writing here does not even approach the great work of Ernest Gann, Richard Bach, or Antoine St Exupery.

A 3 star book, reduced by a star for the disappointment factor. This could have been so much more. Fortunately, at least the novel spawned an excellent film.
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