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

3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  6,199 Ratings  ·  276 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
Hardcover, Large Print, 400 pages
Published August 14th 2001 by Simon & Schuster (first published 2001)
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Jason Koivu
Jul 16, 2015 Jason Koivu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 30, 2010 Eric_W rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jun 04, 2016 Staci rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2016
While the title and cover would lead one to believe The Wild Blue is about B-24s, it is more a biography about George McGovern, U.S. Senator and Presidential Candidate.

It was incredibly interesting to learn details about the B-24s and the conditions that the men stationed in Italy lived in during World War II. For those interested in learning more about George McGovern there was a good deal of detail about his training for and time spent as a B-24 pilot during WWII.
Jan 04, 2014 Stephen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Trenton Dove
Jan 09, 2013 Trenton Dove rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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-
Jul 12, 2015 Todd rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 13, 2013 Travis Ristau rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
carl  theaker
Mar 19, 2010 carl theaker rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ww2

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.
Kyle Pefley
Jun 03, 2016 Kyle Pefley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Wild Blue, by Stephen E. Ambrose, is a book about a courageous crew that flew aboard a B-24 over Germany. It starts with their life before the war, how they joined, and how they trained. It goes into detail the process of joining a crew and how hard it is to become a pilot. There are many characters as the bombers have a large crew. The crew in this book were one of the few to complete the 35 missions needed to go home.

I would give this book an 8/10 and I would recommend it. It was an inte
Jan 13, 2016 Julia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, biography
I am a fan of Stephen Ambrose's works, and while I knew very little about George McGovern, by the end, I knew and understood much about the kind of person McGovern was. I think the title is a little misleading, because Ambrose provides anecdotal clips of other B-24 AAF servicemen, this title is more about McGovern and his time in the war. Ambrose does provide great research when showing us the war through McGovern's experience, so readers do understand what it meant to be stationed in Italy, fly ...more
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
Dec 18, 2014 Nicolas rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Curtis Edmonds
Feb 25, 2014 Curtis Edmonds rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 04, 2014 Jeff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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
Dec 29, 2014 Stacy Bearse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Oct 30, 2015 Zydny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting overview of the experience of B-24 crews in WW2. Well worth reading. Actually, I happened on this book only because someone gave me a stack of books, and several by Stephen Ambrose were in the pile.

Perhaps what was most interesting to me is a personal memory: years ago I worked at an arboretum; during one winter, a quiet gentleman came for walks there several times. When he did, he was always sure to stop by the office for a chat with me; we discussed history, philosophy, and the
Ed Vaughn
Many of Ambrose's works read like well plotted fiction. "Wild Blue" however is filled with numerous tiny snippets of the various profiles of the various airmen and officers. Still readable as he presents a vast mosaic of the brave crews that lived and died over Europe's skies while defining modern warfare.
Michael Delaware
Jul 26, 2016 Michael Delaware rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
The Wild Blue is a wonderful historical account of a unique period in military aviation during WWII. The pilots and crews of the B-24's flew one of the most difficult airplanes into the European theater from 1944-1945.
In order to complete their tour of duty, these aviators had to complete 35 missions, and a majority of them did not. Men were killed, bailed out over enemy territory and spent the rest of the war in a POW camp or they survived.
The author Stephen E. Ambrose takes the reader throug
Sep 04, 2011 Brooks rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 17, 2014 H.W. Bernard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 03, 2016 Kelly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wwii, audiobooks
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.
Aug 10, 2015 William rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 29, 2014 Carl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 20, 2015 Dave rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wouldn't recommend to everyone. I really like Stephen Ambrose's style of writing history. The theme of this book is what it was like to fly in the B-24 during WWII. It gives insight to the tremendous challenge the U.S. had creating an air force with all the planes and required crew.

Every WWII book I read amazes me with the magnitude of that event both in evil and commitment of those who helped throw down the evil empires. Speaking of magnitude, I just can't picture what it must have been like
Oct 20, 2015 Nathan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think that the whole history of the b-24 was fascinating. It was more rugged than that of the B-17 and for that had less losses. Though I must stress about one face. I do not think that the mass training was not wise, even though it was necessary because they had too many volunteers. If they had prepared them enough then the losses at the airfield taking off and landing would have been reduced greatly. I like McGovern because it was his great leadership, wits, and self-control that saved his c ...more
John Terreri
Mar 20, 2014 John Terreri rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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
Mar 18, 2015 Ian Divertie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 19, 2014 Samuel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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.

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