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The Candy Bombers

4.18  ·  Rating Details  ·  807 Ratings  ·  200 Reviews
The masterfully told story of the unlikely men who came together to make the Berlin Airlift one of the great military and humanitarian successes of American history.

On the sixtieth anniversary of the Berlin Airlift, Andrei Cherny tells a remarkable story with profound implications for the world today. In the tradition of the best narrative storytellers, he brings together
Hardcover, 624 pages
Published April 17th 2008 by G. P. Putnam's Sons (first published January 1st 2008)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,967)
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Tony Taylor
Aug 15, 2010 Tony Taylor rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who enjoys reading current history
Recommended to Tony by: Book review
Terrific! Too bad that the author gave the book such a "soft" title... actually the extended title really tells the story: "The Untold Story of the Berlin Airlift and America's Finest Hour." If the book had been written 50 years ago the initial title would be significant, but unfortunately too many of today's readers of non-fiction do not identify with the name, " The Candy Bomber." In fact you have to read almost 300 pages before the Candy Bomber appears in this historical accounting of the Ber ...more
Mar 01, 2012 Joyce rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best non-fiction history books I have ever read! Even though it takes many detours from the main story (and the story of the Candy Bombers makes up only a small fraction of the book,) it is interesting and well written. I laughed, I cried, I pondered. How can the actions of one man make such a difference in the lives of so many?

I connected with this story in many ways. My father-in-law was an MP in postwar Berlin, and his wife was on the first boatload of family members to a
❂ Jennifer
An outstanding narrative of the Berlin Airlift and the aftermath of WWII in Berlin. It's long, but it's worth it - especially if, like me, your knowledge of the events isn't what it could be. Extraordinarily readable.

Full review:
Jan 29, 2009 Mimi rated it it was amazing
I really want Cori and Kimball to read this. I think Cori would really enjoy it. It's the first history book (and it's long) where I would sit and really enjoy 50-100 at a time. Even when the author goes into the lives of people that end up being involved in the airlift it's still fascinating. I am going to keep looking for books written by Andrei Cherny.

I knew most details around the airlift but it was immensely interesting how people's lives were molded to make it a success. The whole book gi
Beth E
Nov 17, 2015 Beth E rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wwii
This is a remarkable, in-depth book. It starts long before the Berlin Airlift and describes in detail the events and people who brought about the airlift.
It's a very touching story and I very nearly cried in the waiting room of the car repair shop as my oil was being changed.
I had no idea just how deprived the people of West Berlin were of food, fuel and necessities of life during the airlift and how committed they were to democracy, ignoring the enticements offered by the Soviets.
It is amazing
Jun 01, 2015 Natasha rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: history, world-war-ii
I found this treasure of a book while searching for World War II stories. I read it four years ago and re-read it this year after seeing Hal Halvorsen featured in "Meet the Mormons." His cameo in that movie barely scratches the surface of how awesome his story is. At one point in "Meet the Mormons," someone said that Halvorsen helped prevent WW III and I read some reviewers who scorned that claim as an overstatement. Read this book and you will see how near it is to the truth!

Cherny expertly we
May 18, 2012 Paul rated it it was amazing
Growing up in Utah, I used to wonder why there such a big fuss over Gail Halvorsen, the man who initiated the candy drops to starving children during the Berlin Airlift of 1948-49. But after reading this book, I don't think Halvorsen and the others responsible for the airlift have received nearly the acclaim they deserve. In fact, this heroic and important afterward to WWII is largely ignored by historians. Yet the Berlin Airlift did more to thwart the advance of communism following the war than ...more
Nov 16, 2011 Jeslyn rated it it was amazing
Excellent writing, outstanding management of multiple strands of history - the actual candy drops don't begin until nearly halfway through this book, as extensive background is laid including FDR's death and Truman's presidency; Soviet invasion and assault of Berlin and its people; Berliners' emotional, psychological and physical outlook post-WWII; four-nation coalition government of Berlin and Germany; etc. This writing is packed with players and perspectives, but Cherny manages superbly.

And o
Jennifer Nelson
This book is so amazing that I feel like the words I can come up with aren't enough to describe it's beauty and depth. I can't put it off any longer though; I have to at least try to write a review. Someone here on Goodreads said that in their opinion you should only give 5 stars to books that change your life or that leave an unforgettable impression; The Candy Bombers definitely did that for me.

This is the story of the people who were involved with the Berlin Airlift of 1948-1949 in post-war
Feb 04, 2012 Brian rated it really liked it
Cherny provides an excellent look at the salient issues behind the Berlin Airlift as well as a look at the human side of things. He focuses on the major players from General Clay and Howlery to the Candy Bomber himself and the sensation he caused around the country and through the hearts and minds of Berlin's children. This is truly a story of hope and will power that showed the best of America during the Cold War even when our leaders were not. The debates that ranged around abandoning Berlin, ...more
Dec 10, 2010 Xon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: war
So most people, including myself read about great WWII battles and decisive victories that led to the end of the war. So what happened right after the war? Yeah, all the soldiers came home to ticker tape parades, got married and enjoyed an economic boom. The Candy Bombers tells how the Soviets broke all of the agreements made by the Allies for for a post war Germany and Europe. They tried to starve the citizens of Berlin and force communism on the Germans much like they did to several Eastern Eu ...more
Aug 15, 2013 Emily rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This book took me my entire summer to read. It is historical non-fiction. Not the fun, comical kind of popular non-fiction that would be highlighted on NPR either. This was slogging through minutiae and tremendous amounts of background kind of non-fiction. It explains in extreme detail the events leading up to the Soviet blockade of Eastern Berlin and the subsequent airlift. I was amazed because I knew virtually nothing about any of this. I blame it on my US History AP DBQ being on the early 190 ...more
Feb 28, 2010 Christopher rated it liked it
Shelves: wwii, history
OK, so I know this isn't technically a WWII book. But I am counting it anyway.

I enjoyed this history quite a bit. I have a few complaints though. First, I'm a bit annoyed at how relentlessly American the sources are. With the exception of sources from West Berliners themselves, this book focuses almost exclusively on the American perspective on the Airlift. Since it was published 60 years after the events it describes, the author had a good 17 years after the fall of the Soviet Union to intervie
Georgen Charnes
May 09, 2013 Georgen Charnes rated it liked it
The author obviously did a massive amount of research for this book; it's filled with amazing detail of life in Germany, and Berlin in particular, after WWII. There are in depth biographies of many of the major players in politics and it contextualizes events extremely well. Unfortunately, it needed a better editor. Very little of the book had to do with the candy bombings, and few of the people mentioned and events outlined did either. In fact, the first mention of the "candy bombing" is on pag ...more
Nov 19, 2010 Megan rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. The years immediately after World War II get short shrift in American history textbooks and courses. I seem to remember being told it was a time Americans turned inward and focused on returning to normal. This book proves that was definitely not the case.

The book talks about the last time Americans could truly be certain of their superior humanity. Feeding a city of 2.5 million people, citizens who just the few years before had supported Hitler, and doing it for nine months t
The Reading Countess
Feb 06, 2011 The Reading Countess rated it really liked it
Between the remarkable photographs depicting a time long ago and the remarkable story itself, I found this book absolutely mesmerizing. I read this one while I was waiting for my oldest son to warm up and play for his percussion ensemble group (i.e. in the middle of a cafeteria full of awkward teenagers attempting to make beautiful music while trying NOT to appear awkward at all). This is the heartwarming true story of Hal Halvorsen who proved that we all make ripples in other people's lives. Du ...more
Steve Kettmann
Apr 30, 2010 Steve Kettmann rated it it was amazing
This is often the first book I recommend to Americans visiting Berlin: Cherny, a former speechwriter in the Clinton White House (and also for candidate John Kerry), not a candidate for Treasurer of Arizona, does a superb job both of explaining why the Berlin Airlift was so important to the history of the postwar period and in bringing alive the characters whose actions made such a difference. The simple fact is, when the Soviets decided to make a move on Berlin, no one - least of all the America ...more
Feb 12, 2010 Kaigham rated it it was amazing
Excellent narrative of the political and personal events surrounding the Berlin Airlift in 1948. Inspirational. Much more than a history of the Airlift, it is a history of the context and events that lead up to and resulted from the Airlift. Beginnings of the Cold War, the emergent isolationism of the US that was in danger of losing all of Europe to the Soviets, the re-emergence of a democratic Germany following WWII, and the humanity of individual actions. The delivery of candy to children-- so ...more
A.L. Sowards
Feb 27, 2010 A.L. Sowards rated it liked it
Shelves: history-1900s
The story of the Berlin airlift is a mostly happy one, so this book left me feeling glad I had read about it. I often felt I was reading a research paper written by a student that was really great at the research aspect of a paper--but then was so excited with what he found that he threw in every random fact he came across during his research. The result: a lot of tangents. Many of the tangents were interesting; some made my eyes glaze over. Writing style varied between clever and melodramatic. ...more
Mar 13, 2015 Kerry rated it liked it
Extremely well researched and probably a 5* book if you are a die hard history buff. But honestly, it was really hard for me to "get into". Some nonfiction books almost read as a novel, which makes it easier and more enjoyable to read, imo. This was not one of them. It's also a long book (I did the audio version and it was 21 CD's.) But I learned a ton and it gave me renewed appreciation for how close we came to WWIII just a few years after WWII and how much the innocent German people suffered f ...more
Stuart Bobb
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The author tells the story with a lot of context about the end of the war, the politics in 1948 US. Some call it a slow start, but I think it is useful background. I think some of the poetry could have been cut/culled, but all and all, an excellent story about when America found a great way to defend its values.

I really enjoyed the fact that a relatively peaceful way forward was found, despite the push for direct confrontation that some held as a certainty. What a
The Bookloft
Bookseller: Linda

Absolutely absorbing historical tale of humanity where you'll meet "Uncle Wiggly Whigs"!
After WWII, Berlin was divided between the 4 Allied Powers (Great Britain, France, U.S., & Soviet Union) to rebuild the city.

But the Soviets mere "moving" in Europe & wanted Berlin too. Politics not fighting was this next conflict as the Soviets put pressure on the 2,000,000 Berliners, survivng the devastated city, with the Blockade. No supplies were to get through; Berliners barely s
Dec 04, 2015 Michael rated it it was amazing
Remember when America was great? This is a book about that. It was 1947, Harry Truman was president, the armed forces of the United States, such an immense power just two years before had been dismantled. Germany had been divided in half, the Soviet Union taking half and the rest split three ways by the US, France and England. Berlin, far behind Soviet lines was similarly split. The United States thought it had fought it's way to an unprecedented peace. However, Joseph Stalin, whom Franklin Roos ...more
Sheralyn Belyeu
Apr 04, 2015 Sheralyn Belyeu rated it it was amazing
The story is nearly seventy years old, and everyone knows the ending--the Soviets blockaded Berlin, but the Allies airlifted in enough food to keep the city going. It's so familiar it's a cliche. Suspense was the last thing I expected out of The Candy Bombers, but it was a book I could not put down. I finally fell asleep about 3 am, but by 7:30 I was awake and plowed through the rest of the book before I could even think about breakfast.

Cherny brings to life the unimaginable pressure of the Berl
Sep 24, 2014 Douglas rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bob Schmitz
Sep 01, 2014 Bob Schmitz rated it liked it
Shelves: history-wwii
The Candy Bombers tells the story of the Berlin blockade in 1948. By its title it would seem to be about Gail Halvorsen, an American pilot who began dropping handkerchief parachuted candy to hungry Berlin children, starting a program that eventually dropped 250,000 parachutes with 23 tons of candy. It is a moving and remarkable story. The part I found most interesting, however, was the story about the conditions in Berlin after the war and how the blockade was started and broken.

G.I.’s sent to G
Matthew Hines
Mar 11, 2015 Matthew Hines rated it it was amazing
I would consider this book to be in the top five books I've read in the past ten years. Even as a history buff, I find some books wanting over others. Not The Candy Bombers.

Like most who study World War II and the Cold War, I have heard about the Berlin Blockade and the subsequent Berlin Airlift effort. But what I didn't know is the decision process that led to it, or the strategic moves the Soviet Union made that led to the blockade.

One of the key players in the conflict is General Lucius Cla
Sandy T
I would give this a 4.5 if I could-- decided to round up to 5 stars because I have to admire the writer for all of the detailed research he did... even if at times it felt like a little too much minutia for me. However, I really learned a lot about a period of time after WWII that I didn't know much about. An incredible story of the good in human nature, to care about people who had so recently been their enemies. I'm a huge fan of Hal Halverson, the original candy bomber, and his story, but his ...more
Apr 23, 2015 Barbara rated it really liked it
The book started out in a gloomy vein. So much so, that I considered shelving it for a while because it was depressing to me.

As I continued to read the mood became more hopeful and moved from there to a powerful testimony of the resilience of the human spirit. It is a mirror of what Berliners must have experienced in the days following the war and the Soviet attempts to subjugate them.

This book is not really about the candy bombers, although they play a crucial part in the story. It is about th
Dec 02, 2015 Ari rated it it was amazing
In 1948, Germany was partitioned and under military occupation. Berlin itself, situated inside the Soviet zone, was likewise partitioned. In June of 1948, the Soviet Union announced that for "technical reasons", no land transit would be allowed between West Berlin and the rest of allied-controlled Germany. Some in the American government wanted to send convoys through by force, at the risk of all-out war. Many others in the American government wanted to shrug, and leave the city to the Russians. ...more
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“When General George Patton tried to convince Eisenhower to make a push to conquer the city first, Eisenhower blithely asked, 'Well, who would want it?” 2 likes
“Eventually, a Soviet general sat down in the empty seat next to Howley. Rank-conscious, the Russian visibly shuddered when he realized he was sitting next to someone of much lower position. 'I see you're a colonel,' he said through an interpreter. Howley looked up from his plate and grumbled, 'I see you're a general. Here, have some salami.” 1 likes
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