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The Wild Blue: The Men and Boys Who Flew the B-24s Over Germany

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  5,218 ratings  ·  245 reviews
Stephen E. Ambrose is the acknowledged dean of the historians of World War II in Europe. The very young men who flew the B-24s over Germany in World War II against terrible odds were an exceptional band of brothers, and, in The Wild Blue, Ambrose recounts their unique brand of heroism, skill, daring, and comradeship with vivid detail and affection.
Ambrose describes how t
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Hardcover, Large Print, 400 pages
Published August 14th 2001 by Simon & Schuster (first published 2001)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jason Koivu
Slow down with that zipping and zooming about, whipper-snapper! This is a far tamer tale. Like the planes Stephen E. Ambrose is describing herein, his prose plods along at a steady, satisfying pace. These are not jet fighters, these are workhorses carrying out a task.

The Wild Blue: The Men and Boys Who Flew the B-24s Over Germany 1944-45 is just as much the story of George McGovern as it is of the pilots and crews of those famous World War II bombers. McGovern is most famously known as the Demo
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Rob Kitchin
From the back cover I thought I would be getting the story of the 741 Squadron and, in particular, the crew of the Dakota Queen. What you actually get is the story of George McGovern from early days through his training and onto the end of the Second World War. Very little time is spent with any of the other crewmen or the wider 741 Squadron. This is very much the war as experienced by McGovern and the reader joins the squadron when McGovern does in September 1944, at the tail end of the war. If ...more
Stephen
This is an very well documented and well-written book about being a bomber pilot during the Second World War. The main character, George McGovern, is not painted well enough to overcome his embarrasing defeat running against Nixon, but Ambrose makes it clear that while McGovern may not have been the choice for president, he was a good pilot and soldier. Also, the description of the B-24's strengths and weaknesses I personally found interesting, as the plane is one of my favorites. Overall, very ...more
Eric_W
Note that I wrote this review before the plagarism controversy. See my review of Wings Over Morning

Ambrose became a widely popular popularizer of World War II history and he has managed to churn out several in the past few years that focus on the common soldier experience. Joseph Heller, author of Catch-22 and himself a bombardier on B-24s, told Ambrose, " never had a bad officer." Ambrose was startled to hear this from the creator of Major Major Major, Colonel Cathcart, and General Dreedle, but
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Trenton Dove
Stephen Ambrose has written another amazing book about men flying B-24 planes during WWII, giving the reader an action filled book. The Wild Blue follows the men who gave their lives to protect their country by flying over enemy lines. McGovern always keeps his crew members alive and does not let them down. He always keeps everything in check. He never is in a tight spot.
McGovern signed up to be a fighter pilot when he was 19 years old. When he went into training he was traded over to be a b-
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Todd
This is a great history/biography of George McGovern and other pilots typical of those who flew the Liberator during World War II. What surprised me the most was the comparatively high percentage of these pilots who were killed or lost during missions, not to mention the hell it was to be hunted and shot at while one could do very little to defend himself. Numerically, the risk was even greater than that of the front-line soldier...not taking away from their record of sacrifice. A very interesti ...more
Travis Ristau
This book was another great piece that Stephen Ambrose has wrote. It described the life and difficulties that bomber pilots went through in Northern Italy. The main pilot, George McGovern, was a stellar pilot who's crew looked up to him. George and the rest of his crew from the Dakota Queen went through hell and back throughout World War II. It went from seeing countless friends die in front of them to seeing a plane crash into the two plants right next to them. These men were some of the braves ...more
Kelly
Nice anecdotal retelling of life of AAF bomber crews. It began to feel like a string of stories about individual missions. I would have liked to have more big picture context for the missions and their impact.
carl  theaker


Even before the plagiarism suit was settled I thought this book was well padded with stats and other well known information about the air war. This book was whipped up for a quick profit.

I did like the personal stories and the insights on the the B-24, that's worth the reading. With great coincidence, after reading this I met Bob Cook the pilot mentioned in the crash and rescue, pg 186
if you're following along. Since then Bob and I have become friends and I've heard a lot of great B-24 stories.
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Bill Rogers
This is a decent book and useful for anyone who wants to know their World War II history. I mark it down because of its narrow scope.

It would have been more honest to title this book George McGovern in World War II, because that's what it is really about. Ambrose admired McGovern politically and otherwise. He interviewed McGovern and gathered information to write a memoir of McGovern's training and war experience. He threw in a few other people and details to try to make it appeal to a bit wide
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Nicolas
I have enjoyed much of Ambrose's writing in past years, but this book really is an embarrassment. When I began reading THE WILD BLUE, I thought that I was reading a history of American bomber pilots flying the B-24 (Oft-forgotten in light of the B-17). It turns out that this book is really a work on the war memories of Ambrose's old friend, George McGovern who flew missions from Italy when the Air War in Europe had already been decided (For example, McGovern never once had to contend with German ...more
Tony Pedley
A curious mixture of a book. Sold as a historical book on the American Air Force during the 2nd world war, but it comes out as a wartime biography of ex-president hopeful George McGovern.

The good thing about the book is that it describes one of those small pockets of the 2nd world wars that is frequently missed by historians, that of the allied bombing campaign from southern Italy towards the end of the 2nd world war. However while we learn a lot about the pilots in the the form of McGovern and
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Curtis Edmonds
The place you read Stephen Ambrose's new book, The Wild Blue: The Men and Boys Who Flew The B-24s Over Germany, is on an airplane, a comfortable passenger jet, say, a Delta 737, built with care and precision by the Boeing folks in their picturesque facility in Seattle. the kind that has the little button that lets you recline your seat, and room for flight attendants to wander up and down the aisles bringing Dr Pepper and orange juice from frozen concentrate and the other wondrous beverages of t ...more
Jeff
"The Wild Blue, The Men and Boys Who Flew the B-24s Over Germany", Stephen Ambrose. 2001. For many, the introduction to Stephen Ambros was his appearance in the 1974 British documentary "The World At War". Professor Ambros' unsettling intensity exuded an acute level of understanding and intelligence. His long mane of hair and massive wool sweater made him appear as though his image was torn from the pages of a mens fashion magazine. Fast forward nearly thirty years later, not far from his untime ...more
Stacy Bearse
This isn't Stephen Ambrose' best work, but it is very good nonetheless. The focus is on the role of the bombing campaigns waged by the Army Air Force in World War II. Many historians believe that the missions, which concentrated on Axis factories, refineries and transportation hubs, sped up the Allied victory significantly, thereby saving hundreds of thousands of lives. The real story here are the kids who enlisted in the Army out of a sense of patriotism and who emerged from the war heroic men. ...more
Brooks
Interesting set of stories on the airmen flying the B-24. Focus is on George McGovern and his crew, but pulls stories from many veterans of the Army Air Corp and Navy fliers. To be honest, there really is no narrative, just a jumble of stories.
H.W. Bernard
THE WILD BLUE has been out for awhile, but I finally got around to reading it. Glad I did. Although I read mainly thrillers (because that's what I write), I enjoy occasional excursions into nonfiction. From a literary standpoint (gripping reading), I would rate THE WILD BLUE three stars--it's mainly a series of anecdotes strung together in a more-or-less chronological order. From an historical standpoint, it's a five-star read. It's a book that spotlights, as many have, the Greatest Generation. ...more
William
Another great Ambrose story.

Contains a conversion with Joe Heller which I found quite pertinent to us avid Historical Fiction readers:

I was Joe Heller, a bombardier with the Twelfth Air force, and the author of Catch-22. Heller told me "I never had a bad officer." Astonished, I said, "Joe you created Major Major Major, Colonel Cathacart, General Dreedle, Lieutenant Minderbiner, and so many others. ... How can you tell me you never had a bad officer?"

"They are all invention," he replied. "Every s
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Carl
As you can see in the other reviews, there's some controversy surrounding this book based primarily on politics and possible plagiarism. At the end of the day, it is a well-written account of what the aircrews of bombers in WWII had to endure. As Ambrose mentions, the lion's share of attention regarding WWII is on the infantry and the warriors aboard our Naval vessels and Marines in the Pacific. It is good that this account is being told in order to make the public at large understand the terrif ...more
John Terreri
Another great read which evolved from a friendship the author had with George McGovern who unsuccessfully ran for President in 1972. The book focuses mainly on McGovern and his B24 crew (741st squadron)and the experiences they had in flying missions over Germany towards the end of WWII. There are vivid descriptions of the triumphs and fears of daily life before and after a bomb run. (how missions were assigned, the conditions on the bomber planes and the poor chances of returning from missions) ...more
Ian Divertie
The usual Stephen Ambrose excellence. That George McGovern was vilified on the right as a weak kneed sort in the 1970's is totally refuted by this book. It has a certain resonance with the way the right criticizes some people today (Reagan, Cheney, Bush II et al), -- but then they have never been there like Mr. McGovern truly was. On the other hand I do not think military experience is a prerequisite for the presidency or elected office. The way Max Cleland (did I get that right?)was treated and ...more
Chuck
Much more ordinary than I would have expected. Even though I love to read about the Civil War and World War II, this book added little to my knowledge and spent more time nameing flight crews and where they were from than any other function. The book is principally a biograpy of former Senator and Presidential candidate George McGovern than anything else and even that I found a little superficial and ordinary. There are memories and antedotes of interest, but sandwiched in among many meaningless ...more
Samuel
One of the last books of the summer (2014) I had to interrupt for grad school reading; I finally got to pick it up again and finish it up on my flight back from Boston to southern California. Ambrose is quite the story-teller and this is quite the story. The two combine for an enjoyable read about the rapid creation-expansion of the Army's Air Force in the 1940s and the subsequent Italy-based bomber missions taken by the AAF in an effort to cripple the production capacities of Germany during WWI ...more
Justin
Jul 26, 2009 Justin rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Most
Recommended to Justin by: My late father's library
Shelves: war
What makes war so horrible is what also makes it so vibrant. The inescapable human element again livens this book, to me the most straight-forward chapter of Ambrose's storied canon. It's simple--but with great tones of friendship & ease, likely resulting from the author's close relationship with the most central figure. The narrative is linear, but upon it pervades a solid, storyteller familiarity.

In yet another striking, humbling account of the '40's generation of sacrifice, the infant A
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Tim
When I was a teenager I, like many, put together plastic models of airplanes, onw of which was the B-24 Liberator. Unfortunately, that model was lost or tossed out many years ago. However, about ten or so years ago, in my "I'm reliving my adolescence" phase (which continues), I ordered a ProModeler (a line of model kits with a lot of detail and much research behind them) kit of the B-24 Liberator as well as one of a B-25 Mitchell. The cover art for the former depicted the bombing of the oil refi ...more
Richard
The inspiration for this book was the late Stephen Ambrose's friendship with George S. McGovern, the South Dakota senator who ran unsuccessfully on the Democratic ticket in the 1972 Presidential election. Ambrose wanted to tell the story of the heroism of McGovern and thousands of other fliers from World War II. Among other things, this book would provide the public with knowledge of the significant wartime service of McGovern. Many voters in 1972 just saw the stereotyped campaign picture provid ...more
Sean O'brien
THE WILD BLUE:THE MEN AND BOYS WHO FLEW OVER GERMANY
For those who like to learn about WWII this is a great book. It describes many interviews from a lot of WWII pilots and crews. This book is more documentary than it is a novel. The way it described their missions is just beautiful because it describes the crew members feelings. If you enjoy reading books about WWII, this is a great one and I recommend reading it.
It has some parts were it is just not entertaining.When it finally gets to the w
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Colin Calbreath
I thought Wild Blue was a thrilling book with multiple stories of survival from the experiences of B-24 bomber crews in World War II. It gives us insight into what actually goes on up in the air during a war and how life and death is a very real problem umong the crew members. The stories start out with a little background to the story and the crews traing history and intresting details like that. The author uses excellent tone shifts, from exciting to horrific or relaxed to panic, to creat the ...more
Craig
A very informative book about the origin, development and implementation of the strategic bombing campaign undertaken by the US heavy bombers during World War II. This book focuses primarily on the B-24 "Liberator" rather than the B-17 "Flying Fortress." The book centers upon the flying career of George McGovern, a 22 year old pilot of the B-24 bomber in November, 1944 when his crew was assigned to the European theater. He later became a US Senator during the 1960s and Presidential candiate in t ...more
Eli
I'm a fan of Ambrose's work Band of Brothers and D-Day though not so much of this book. It didn't seem as well written as his other books. It was very interesting to find out that the waist gunner, Bill "Tex" Ashlock, was a part of McGovern's crew. As I was reading I had noticed Ashlock's name and saw his picture along with the rest of the crew. I recognized the name from somewhere. I showed the book to my dad, a devoted genealogist, who was surprised to find out that this "Tex" is his father's ...more
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Flawed history and memoir 2 17 Feb 11, 2013 12:49PM  
Flawed history and memoir 1 11 Dec 07, 2012 09:37AM  
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Stephen Edward Ambrose was an American historian and biographer of U.S. Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Richard M. Nixon. He received his Ph.D. in 1960 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

More about Stephen E. Ambrose...
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