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Masters of the Air: America's Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  1,721 Ratings  ·  125 Reviews
The riveting history of the American Eighth Air Force in World War Two, the story of the young men who flew the bombers that helped bring Nazi Germany to its knees, brilliantly told by historian Donald Miller and soon to be a major HBO series.

Masters of the Air is the deeply personal story of the American bomber boys in World War II who brought the war to Hitler’s doorstep
Paperback, 688 pages
Published September 25th 2007 by Simon Schuster (first published 2006)
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Update May 2017: this book is currently turned in an HBO series, produced by Spielberg and Hanks.

This is an extensive read regarding the guys that were in the 8th air force and helped liberate Europe, including my country. I was awed by their adventures, stories and experiences that they had to endure in order to defeat the German Reich, particular the Luftwaffe.

Donald L. Miller writes about a lot of things, the personal lives of the pilots, bombers and gunners, their relationship with the Engli
A.L. Sowards
This book did an impressive job of covering the air war in Europe, focusing on the US Eighth Air Force, based in England. The parts I most enjoyed were the experiences of the bomber crews, but he also covered strategic air theory going into the war, the debates and decisions of those higher up, American/British relationships, and the view from the German side.

Miller showed the ugly side of war—the results of fire-bombing, the intense mental strain the men were under, mistreatment of POWs and in
How do we compare this new arena of warfare, especially in 1943, to other battles? In 1943, an Eighth Air Force crewman had an 80% chance of dying, being wounded, captured or going missing before completing 25 missions. The bombers always got through, never stopped by the German defenders. This book tells the story of the Eighth Air Force in WWII magnificently. 5 Battle Stars all the way!

If you want to understand the air war in WWII over Europe, this single volume will give you much of what you
After sitting on my shelf for a few years, I finally decided to read this. Having read many books on the 8th AF over the years, I was hoping this wouldn't be a rehashing of what I'd previously read. I'm happy to say it wasn't.

The book concentrates solely on the bombers of the 8th AF, with very little attention paid to the fighters or the other American air forces in Europe, although they all do get a little bit of a mention here and there. Some units, such as the 100th BG, get a bit more ink tha
Aug 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read the subtitle of this book and assumed it was a collection of war stories from 8th Air Force crewmen. I'm not a huge fan of oral history but decided to give it a shot anyway. Wow was I pleasantly surprised. It is much, much more than an oral history. MASTERS OF THE AIR examines the entire experience of the 8th AF from POWs to its portrayal in movies and books to race relations to the effect of the American air bases on the social fabric of the English countryside to the whole question of t ...more
I must admit that I'm having a bit of difficulty in finding the 'right label' for this book, mainly because its author tries in my opinion to cover in it at least three topics, all sharing the common denominator, but nonetheless quite separate from each other. The common denominator is of course the story of 8th Airforce and its bombing campaign against German Reich between 1942 and 1945. Lion share of this book is dedicated to a narrative of 'the human story' of this grand air formation and men ...more
Dec 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
I would strongly recommend reading this book only after one has read "A Few Good Captains" by Dewitt S. Copp. It certainly dove tails the development of the USAAF into the USAF and shows the many struggles of pilots of all sorts of Aircraft during WW II and their attempt at surviving especially the early days of the war in the ETO. I wished it would have done more to cover the air war in the PTO but this is the American Psyche - war in Europe was known because of the general knowledge of America ...more
Robert Pinksten
Dec 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The most in depth and descriptive book on the Air War in Europe I've ever encountered. It is mind boggling the amount of research that must have been done in writing this book. Loved it
Mandy Perret
Jun 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
It was very extensive but I enjoyed the commentary and fighter words. The anecdotal aspects were interesting. I learned more about war fighters than I ever thought I would.
This long book is the definitive single-volume history of the American air war in Europe. The air war was brutal. An American bomber crewman in 1943 had only a one in five chance of surviving to the end of his tour of duty. The bomber command suffered more casualties in WW2 than the Marine Corps.
The book is centered on the 8th Air Force, but ranges far and wide covering the USA's daylight bombing campaign, the British night bombing campaign, fighter development and deployment, internal politics
John Nellis
This book is one of the best I've read; on the American bombing campaign in Europe. This book contains almost anything you would want to know about the campaign. It has first person accounts; profiles on the planes; men; and equipment. It has sections on the beginnings of air medicine; and the psychological aspects of what the crews went through. From the supply services to the building of airfields. It's all here. The book is easy to read and keeps you interested throughout. I could go on; and ...more
J. Bryce
Easily one of the best things I've read on the "Mighty Eighth Air Force" in WWII -- but like The Monuments Men, I don't see how they (Spielberg, Hanks, and HBO) are going to make a miniseries out of it. Despite the inherent drama, there ain't much traditional plot -- but maybe that's why I'm not a screenwriter!

This will fascinate those interested in WWII history. There are anecdotes and personal histories galore, statistical analysis, strategic discussions and lots of parts where things get blow
Jan 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-2
A wonderful analysis, with some good isolated analysis, as written in many cases, through the eyes of those who had served in the European Theater of the Air Corps.
Miller, portrays not only the dangers day to day of these brave souls, as the death rate and burnout was staggering in this branch of the service, but also the devastation that was brought to the ground by these same men.
You don't have to be a student of WWII to enjoy this book, as it is very accessible for all.
Craig Fiebig
Dec 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic discussion of the ETO air war. Interweaves the experiences of combatants at all ranks and their shifting roles and feelings through and (modestly) after the war. The author also reviews the analysis and dispels the after-action 'spin' that arose from the Strategic Bombing Survey. An excellent historical work.
May 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
WWII, in Europe, so the birth of modern aerial warfare. Essentially, the Eighth Air Force ushered in the age of large scale strategic bombing, developing, testing, revising and debating the effectiveness and morality of air campaigns as it proceeded. It is unquestionable that the men who fought in the bomber and fighter aircraft were, as a group, unquestionably brave and valorous. This story also deserves to be told not only in memory to these brave airmen, but so that the issues with which they ...more
Gary Foss
Sep 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a solid overview of the bombing campaign in Europe. Occasionally, Miller dives into what I'd have to call "soft" language to describe the historical figures he's covering. The general is "lantern-jawed" or "tough as nails" and one airman or another might be characterized in ways that are probably more appropriate for a novel or less specialized historical subject, but if that prose reads as a bit lavish from time to time, it is in the service of connecting readers to the humanity of thes ...more
Feb 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wwii
Great book! A subject that I was somewhat familiar with was expanded beyond my expectations. The depth of detail about the missions completed and the effectiveness of strategic bombing in Europe was all encompassing and covered individual flyer stories, back-room negotiations at the highest levels, and insights from post-war German memoirs.
The TLDR is that the fabled Norden bombsite may have been very accurate, but sending thousands of planes into a dynamic war situation did not lead to pinpoint
Sep 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This is 5 star book because the ratings don't go to 6.

There is no shortage of books on the air war fought over Europe in World War 2. Miller's book rises to the top of the stack based on the strength of his narrative gifts combined with his mastery of the subject.

Even a casual reader with only limited interest in the subject will enjoy this book.

I've read that HBO is going to do a mini-series a-la "Band of Brothers" based on this book. I am not sure how that will work -- there are no main chara
Laura Raines
Feb 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book over a longer period than usual, which seems fitting since these men fought the longest battle of WWII. Often the brutal detail was hard to read, other times you felt like you know the guys well enough to laugh or cry with them. I'm grateful to Donald Miller who so thoroughly searched out, gathered, read and digested a vast amount of material in order to make a compelling and complex story out of the Mighty Eighth. He's an historian who never loses sight of the individual lives ...more
Jan 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Miller's exhaustive study of the US' heavy bomber war against Nazi Germany will fascinate the neophyte while also engrossing the devoted scholar. Though my father in law flew over 50 missions over Europe in WWII, I never truly understood the horrors he carried within for the rest of his life until Miller so brilliantly brought that reality to light for me. A fascinating piece of scholarship.
Nov 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My grandfather was Crew Chief for the B26 Marauder 'Flak Bait' in World War II, so it was not only historical curiosity, but deep personal interest that drew me to this book. It was a good read and taught me much about the European air war, though sections on politics and bombing strategy dragged on at times.
Jun 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I listened to this very long and detailed book. It was a bit technical for me, a casual pursuant of World War II history, and I'm not sure I would have made it all the way through if I was just reading it. But listening to it as I sewed was great. I found myself thinking, "wow, I never knew that!" over and over.

I highly recommend it for anyone who loves history and planes!
Jan 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I appreciate that the author was able to describe a very gruesome campaign without being needlessly graphic, yet still we couldn't miss the horrific nature of the bombing campaign. I was particularly surprised by the treatment of American flyers by the Swiss. I had no idea it was so bad. I find this to be a good survey of an important topic.
Rebecca Vaughn
May 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book to learn about the WWII Air Campaign while researching the details of my father's history.
I outlined and read the book in detail to digest the information.

I think Donald Miller's overview of the Eighth Air Force is comprehensive and respectable. I did find it to be jumpy at times. But overall, a must read for someone interested in the Eighth Air Force.
Mar 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
The four stars are for the exhaustive research and deep view into aspects of that war I've never seen addressed in such detail (or at all). The edition I read needs a firm edit for flow, organization, and even spelling.
Tim Freund
Oct 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good read

Well written does not ge bogged down in technical details you get a good idea of what happened to these men.
May 05, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A little dry in parts but some great information and stories that I haven't been exposed to previously.
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
All the heroes, they will live in eternity.
Their deeds will echo forever.
John Breaux
Feb 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very good.
Jerry Jordan
Dec 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very thorough coverage of the air war in Europe during World War II. Full of historical incidents that I was not aware of,
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THE WORLD WAR TWO...: 2013 - February - "Masters of the Air" by Donald Miller 182 87 Mar 09, 2013 01:22PM  
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Dr. Miller is the John Henry MacCracken Professor of History at Lafayette College and an expert on World War II, among other topics in American history. Three of his eight books are on WWII: D-Days in the Pacific (2005), the story of the American re-conquest of the Pacific from Imperial Japan; Masters of the Air: America’s Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany (2006); and The Sto ...more
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