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Bombs Away by John Steinbeck
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Jun 02, 2011

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Read in June, 2011

Steinbeck, John. BOMBS AWAY: THE STORY OF A BOMBER TEAM. (1942). ***.
A few months after America entered WW II, the United States Army Air Force asked Steinbeck to aid the war effort by writing a report to help recruit airmen. Published in 1942, “Bombs Away” the result of this endeavor, is much more than typical army recruiting propaganda. Instead, Steinbeck produced a chronicle documenting the real life of a bomber crew based on a conglomerate of all the men he talked to during his research. The bomber crew was, typically, a six-member team. He concentrated on the selection and function of pilots, navigators and bombadiers, from their courses of training and selection to their final test runs before heading on to actual missions. Steinbeck managed to make the jobs sound exciting without down-playing the ultimate dangers of the team in actual combat. Although issued to most potential airmen and to potential enlistees, the book became a best seller among the civilian population at the time – helping them to understand what was involved in becoming part of a bomber team. This is not great literature, but he manages to do the job he was assigned in such a way that the product had a broad appeal and, hopefully, was of help in the Army’s recruiting efforts.
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