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Showing 1-10 of 987 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 1,136 reviews
on August 22, 2016
The Forgotten 500

A Review by Anthony T. Riggio of the book “The Forgotten 500” written by Gregory A. Freeman

I purchased this book on Amazon in a paperback edition. It was recommended to me by a fellow lover of history.

I am so glad I read this book, which I unhesitatingly give Five Stars as a rating. This book is well written and follows a logical story line. I have an Uncle (now deceased) who flew missions over Yugoslavia during World War II and had many great stories. By the time I read this book he was gone so I could not ask him about his knowledge of the thousands of downed crews over this area.

It is a story about real people both in the Army Air Corps., the OSS, the partisan leadership both pro the Soviet Union and Pro the other Allies fighting the Nazi’s.

The brave crews who flew bombing missions over the former Yugoslavia, suffered great losses in life and many survived after bailing out in the mountainous areas. They were trained on what to do and warned about partisans who were pro Soviet Union and those that were sympathetic to the Nazi’s and what precautions they should take after landing in these territories. How they negotiated these hurdles depended upon the training and instincts of the individual airmen. They were warned against falling into the hands of one faction led by General Draza Mihailovich and believed that the partisan General Josip Broz Tito was the better of the two partisan factions and supported by British intelligence. The opposite was the reality and because of the post was politics it was Mihailovich who was tried as a war criminal. The rescue of most of the surviving air crews was truly facilitated by Mihailovich and his cooperation with the OSS.

The book was intense in its presentation and the reader will be pleasantly surprised at how fast a read this book is. The book also outlined some of the struggles and brave risks taken by members of the OSS.

I gave this book five Stars and highly recommend its reading.
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on March 12, 2016
Great story, and a good effort by the author to attempt an engrossing novel-like read, but ther were too many loose ends for that. As a history, the research seemed light, and too much was invested in single anecdotes or quotes. The result was that you walked away with the impression that the author had too little background that he was earnestly trying to streeeeettttcchh out into a respectable book length. The lack of first-hand evidence was inevitable, since ithe story was uncovered when the whole WWII war generation was dying. Add in the overwhelming Cold War paranoia, the dissolution of the OSS, and the secrecy of the mission, and it becomes clear that gathering recorded evidence of the breathtaking courage and defiance demonstrated as the story unfolded would have been a Herculeann task.

It was frustrating and painful to read the unrelenting misinformation that was circulated at the time and long after about Tito and Mihailovich, but the intentional cruelty of Great Britain and the U.S. in refusing all humanitarian aid to the peasants who kept the pilots safe, was abhorrent, shameful and infuriating.

This could have been a great book, but I guess journalistic writing really is very different from historical or literary writin. The great story boosted the rating I would otherwise have given the writing.
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on February 19, 2009
I have just passed the book, The Forgotten 500, on to my son in Iraq. What a terrific read and one I know that he and his fellow soldiers will enjoy. I cried, laughed and got very angery as I read this book. Those Airmen and the civilians who helped them return to their homes should never be forgotten. I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in WWII history.
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on June 28, 2015
Freeman writes a thorough and very readable account of the largest, riskiest, and most successful rescue of U.S. Servicemen behind enemy lines in history. He respectfully discusses backgrounds of many of the airman who were downed in Yugoslavia during bombing runs and the behind the scenes activities within the US and the British intelligence services. He provides context for the internal politics of Yugoslavia, particularly the animosity between Draza Mihailovich, the nationalist commander who was abandoned by the U.S. and Great Britian and yet was a loyal ally that risked his life and those of the Serbian people to protect the downed airmen, and the corrupt communist Tito, who ended up allowing the Russians to take over the country after the war. He brings to light the corruption, petty bickering and politics that occured among the allies, with serious consequences. If you enjoy history, this is a great and moving read.
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on August 11, 2015
This was a good read overall. The only thing I have against it is some of the information in the chapters felt unrelated to the point of the book. The escape experience of the George Vjunovich (if I remember correctly) was interesting in its own; however, it did not really add to the story of the Airmen escaping. Overall though, a good pace was kept; I was intrigued the whole time and could not wait to start the next chapter. The way the story was presented was also excellent. For any WWII history readers, this is a nice addition to a collection. From now on, I'll be more wary of Aunt Jemima.
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on January 25, 2015
At the heart of this book is a terrible injustice, one that makes the blood boil. Behind the injustice was a cast of unseemly characters that included a high-placed Communist mole within the ranks of British intelligence, other assorted Communist sympathizers within British intelligence and the American OSS, a spineless State Department more interested in assuaging our enemies than honoring a true ally, and, finally, two cold-blooded Communist tyrants- Joseph Stalin and Josep Broz Tito. Yet, the story is so much more than this. There are harrowing tales of American bombers attacked in the sky over Rumania and Yugoslavia, crew members bailing from burning planes, and downed fliers racing across bridges while under fire from German troops. There is the epic Yugoslav leader, his daring band of Chetniks and the courageous villagers who risk all to save the fliers. Of course, the singular event of the book is the final exciting rescue.
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on February 15, 2017
This was such a well researched and compassionate story. I couldn't put this down. A must read for so many reasons. I can't believe this was covered up, it is a truly incredible story. Thank you! Makes you wonder how many other stories are out there like this. I feel for the families that had to endure this sadness.
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on March 13, 2016
Very interesting story for me, but hard to follow, the story was imbedded with the intricate politics of Pre-WWII to the modern day and jumped around a bit. Still it was a untold story that deserved to be told. I managed to acquire a smoldering hatred for the British SOE and their ilk along with our own State Department. If you read the book I think you will latch on to the same resentment. The actual rescue was a marvelous feat, very exciting and suspenseful as you did not really know it's outcome except from the book title. People who have served in the Balkans would certainly agree with bits and pieces, parts and possibly parcels in the book, It does jump from the 90's to the 20's to the 40' to the 30's to the 50's and to modern day and back and forth till your mind is completely jumbled. The research and subject deserve five plus stars, but you have to dedicate yourself to paying attention, a quality I lack.
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on March 29, 2017
Such a great dive into history and politics during WWI. The story is well filled with personal stories and the compassion of the Yugoslavian people for downed American airman and the brave "secret" agents who pushed, pulled, and risked their lives to coordinate such a daring mission - and then had the good fortune to pull it off!
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on March 29, 2015
Gregory Freeman's The Forgotten 500 offers the reader something new in the history of World War II. It is the story of dramatic rescue of airmen, of espionage, and petty politics at the highest level of government.

Much of the material Freeman relied upon did not become fully disclosed until, in some cases, decades after the war. Each chapter is exciting and well-written. Moreover, complex ideas are explained clearly and with neither too much, nor, too little detail. However, the storyline begins in August 1944. It would have much, much clearly and more powerful if the storyline began before the outbreak of the war.

Too many books, like The Forgotten 500, start with an exciting, but chronologically out-of-place chapter. This is a marketing ploy to get the reader to buy the book. Quality and clarity are sacrificed for the sake of profit.

However, even with this "flaw" The Forgotten 500 merits four stars. Freeman can't be faulted for writing in the way publishers want books written, not how they should be written.
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