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Daring Young Men: The Heroism and Triumph of the Berlin Airlift, June 1948-May 1949
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Daring Young Men: The Heroism and Triumph of the Berlin Airlift, June 1948-May 1949

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  300 Ratings  ·  61 Reviews
In the early hours of June 26, 1948, phones began ringing across America, waking up the airmen of World War II--pilots, navigators, and mechanics--who were finally beginning normal lives with new houses, new jobs, new wives, and new babies. Some were given just forty-eight hours to report to local military bases. The president, Harry S. Truman, was recalling them to active ...more
Hardcover, 316 pages
Published January 15th 2010 by Simon & Schuster (first published January 1st 2010)
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Jun 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
As a pilot, I am in awe of what these Berlin Airlifters did--5 Stars Daring Young Men: The Heroism and Triumph of the Berlin Airlift, June 1948-May 1949 is an excellent account of the Berlin Airlift. The author covers the major events, the key players at the political and military leadership levels, as well as the aircrew, mechanics and the people of Berlin. The blockade by the Soviets started in Jun ‘48 and officially ended in May ’49, although the RAF and USAF kept the airlift going until Sep ...more
Mar 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
An interesting read of an often forgotten time. This book had some strong points and some weaknesses. It did good job of explaining the politics of the airlift and surrounding events from both sides. In that way it showed that the airlift could really be considered the opening salvo of the Cold War. It's weakness seemed to be in the way it was organized. The chapters were chronological, but still seemed all over the place, and some times repetitive. This may have partly been due to the nature of ...more
May 07, 2011 rated it it was ok
I usually don't read non-fiction for relaxing at night, but this book was available and I thought the topic would be interesting. However, I found the treatment rather superficial and the book much too long. It was mostly a bunch of repetitive one or two paragraph vignettes that made their point after the first few. There was almost noting on the national politics or decision makers of the principal countries. In fairness to the author, the book was focused on the "Daring Young Men," but it actu ...more
Apr 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
This was the perfect book to read to learn more about the Berlin Airlift. What an amazing story. I really appreciated getting to read about something really wonderful the US did for a people who were very recently their mortal enemy.

See also the podcast on this page.

My favorite passage:

[A woman living in West Berlin during the airlift wrote, after the besieged citizens voted down the Soviet political party:]: "An admirable result considering that this decision most likely will have to be paid fo
Oct 25, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The problems with this book are that it has no narrative flow. There is no historical set up. There is no sense of place. The author seems to assume that you are smart enough to know the history of post war Europe (Germany in particular) and that is presumption that kills the book from the beginning. There is too much reliance on newspaper articles and diary excerpts to convey the necessary information. People come and go and come back again. There are too many people in this story and everyone ...more
Nicole Marble
May 07, 2010 rated it it was ok
The Berlin Airlift was in 1948, '49, and was the first open move in the Cold War. President Harry Truman said, 'We stay in Berlin' as the Soviets cut access to West Berlin which was isolated in East Germany after WWII. So, this book tells the somewhat forgotten story of the heroic pilots who flew in food and medicine and fuel to West Berlin and kept a city from starving.
The story is fascinating and the characters heroic, but the writing needs editing. (And in this audio book, the reader was medi
Oct 24, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, ww11
This is what I call a good book to read, especially if you know just a little about the Berlin airlift that took place June 1948-May 1949. There are many facts - interviews and stories that are interesting.

This book does get bogged down at times and a bit difficult to follow at times - the only reason for my rating of a 3. Outside of that it's a good book on the Berlin airlift.
Mar 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Berlin Air Lift story - incredible. A little disjointed and transactional. I had no idea!
Dec 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Most of us come through the school system with at least a vague understanding of what the Berlin Airlift was and why it existed. Sadly for most of us, it's not something most history teachers spend a lot of time on. There are some resoundingly good reasons you should read this, and merely filling holes left by the educational system isn't even the first reason.

There are so many highly readable gripping stories here about American heroism and German courage that these accounts will stay with you
Gary Null
Another forgotten or often overlooked chapter in American history is the story of the Berlin Airlift. It is a compelling story which demonstrates what incredible feats can be accomplished when the will and resolve are strong.

Only three years after the end of World War II, Joseph Stalin ordered a blockade of West Berlin and enforced it by sending hundreds of thousands of Red Army soldiers to seal off all land, rail and waterway access. A daring plan was hatched to supply Berlin by air. Many advis
Jun 14, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
The intent of the Soviet's cutting the roads and railways from western Germany to Berlin was to force out the Americans, British and French forces occupying the western portion of the city. One aspect that I hadn't realized is that if the inhabitants of west Berlin were willing, they could have signed up for rations in the Soviet-occupied eastern portion of the city. Few were willing to do so. Some food came in from the east through the black market in a city which was not yet physically divided ...more
Mar 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: military, non-fiction
What a great book to finish reading on Memorial Day. I knew a (very) little about the Berlin Airlift from high school history classes, but this book "completed the story." Reeves provides a lot of details and personal notes from people (both civilian and military) who were directly involved. While the presentation of the events is a little scattered at times, Reeves manages to tell a good story, covering everything from how the airlift was conducted to how the Berliners survived during the block ...more
May 29, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
I was recently in the UK and Berlin while trying to impart some Cold War history into my son who was studying the subject at school. As part of the trip, I went to RAF Cosford as well as the AlliiertenMuseum where the subject of the Berlin Airlift were featured. While I knew the headlines of the story, the details were unknown and these museums helped -- but still left unanswered questions.

So I turned to Reeves book to see if the gaps would be filled in. And, in many ways they were. The book doe
John Bond
Feb 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great little story about a now nearly forgotten episode of the Cold War. Love Richard Reeves.
Jan 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Few people know the story of the Berlin Airlift. As a student in Berlin I went to a bar in the now closed Tempelhoff airport (Silver Wings, by the way). There's a beautiful monument there to the brave pilots who sustained West Berlin for nearly a year. Reeves is a great writer and intersperses this desperate story with a great deal of humor. Still, the privation in Germany at the end of the war was shocking. One anecdote in the book tells of a man who goes out to forage for food one night and co ...more
Dec 09, 2010 rated it liked it
I'd say 3.5 stars. Good niche story on classic Cold War milestone. If you were only going to read one book on this event, I think one fits the bill for general coverage but also with some helpful details and vignettes. Enjoyed the background information on the logistics and political machinations. The logistics on rounding up pilots, packing flights in, recruiting recent Luftwaffe mechanics out of necessity... Tunner was a logistical genius (not surprising given he had a previous gig apparently ...more
Jul 07, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
From June 1948 to May 1949 the British and Americans fly supplies into West Berlin when the Soviets cut off all land and water access to the city. The French helped by building the Tegel airport in their sector of the city... but they didn't have the planes or the pilots to contribute more. A marvel of logistics, planning and flying in horrible weather, the Berlin Airlift kept West Berlin free and inspired the nation. Not to mention that Operation Little Vittles, bombing the Berlin children with ...more
Apr 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Actually 3.5 stars. Very well-researched book (including interviews with all parties), written in a style that is enjoyable by someone who obviously loves the subject, but without being jingoistic, slanted, or romantic (for the most part). All parties are portrayed as humans capable of good and evil, and there is little tsk-tsk-ing over behaviors that could be demonized. The initial description of post-war Berlin was staggering, but matter-of-fact. It is noted that some got to the point of tradi ...more
Feb 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This kind of writing is just up my alley. I love history and I think I finally figured out why...I already know the ending, so I can take my time and truely enjoy the getting there of a well written history. While this one is not the most well written history, style-wise that I've ever read (paragraph to paragraph you kind of jump around a lot), the story does come to life with this well researched, inspiring and uplifting story. It takes you from the months leading up to the Berlin Airlift and ...more
Jan 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
I knew almost nothing about the Berlin Blockade in 1948-1949 by the Soviets before reading this book. Western Berlin is suddenly cut off from rail and road transportation, electricity, food, and other resources to provide for themselves. Russia believes that the U.S., England, and France will abandon their areas of Berlin to Russia, but instead they decide to supply Berlin with food, fuel, and other items by air. Thus begins the amazing Berlin Airlift, with aircraft arriving every 2 minutes all ...more
Jul 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Julie by: Charlie Rose
This book is a inspiring account in a nearly forgotten episode of postwar German history. Stalin's almost unfathomable pettiness and cruelty was countered by Truman's unswerving commitment to extend grace in the form of flour and coal to the beleaguered, desperate people of West Berlin. After initial suspicions, the Berliners took courage, grew strong and embraced the chance to stand up against a tyrant.
The book is full of fascinating sketches about people who lived in VERY interesting times, i
Bookmarks Magazine
Apr 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: may-jun-2010
Richard Reeves's journalistic instincts shine in the hundreds of interviews he conducted with key players in the Berlin Airlift, as well as in his extensive digging in Allied and Russian archives to uncover previously unpublished documents. The author's goal in Daring Young Men is to highlight the sacrifices and courage of a country already stretched to the breaking point by World War II and to bring back into our history the effort's potent (and ironic) humanitarian message: ""This time [the so ...more
James Murphy
Mar 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
I have to admit that before I read "Daring Young Men," I didn't know much about the Berlin Airlift. Now, having finished Richard Reeves' terrific book, I can see why the Berlin Airlift is of such historical importance. The people of Berlin needed help and the United States and the United Kingdom saw to it that they got that help. The stories in the book are amazing and inspiring. I especially liked the story of Gail Halvorsen, the pilot who became known as the "Candy Bomber" because of his dropp ...more
Feb 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
My wife and I received this book as a gift from Bill Lafferty, who was one of the pilots featured in the book. The book was very well written and gave me substantial insight into the workings of the Berlin Airlift. It happened to be a very timely gift as my unit was coordinating many of the support flights into Haiti just after an earthquake devastated Port au Prince.

I later met Mr Reeves at an Air Force Association conference in 2010 and passed along my congratulations on the good work.
Jan 15, 2016 rated it liked it
This is a fascinating story, particularly given the fact that the Allies so quickly turned from fighting Germany, to assisting Germany with the airlift. I was particularly interested in this story having known one of the participants (Gail Halvorsen, the Candy Bomber). I was aware that he was called the Candy Bomber for dropping candy to the German kids during the blockade, but I didn't know a lot about the blockade. I felt like the author did a great job on his research, but the writing at time ...more
Jul 20, 2014 rated it liked it
Recommended to Bob by: Charles, met at the library
My uncle was always very proud that he had flown in the Berlin airlift, and I often wondered what it could have been like to bring relief to a city he had bombed only a few years before. Reeves' bases his book on interviews with participants, diaries, and contemporary news accounts, which gives a very personal view of the siege. The book's chapters centering on events of a particular month, though Reeves does attempt to address larger themes. There is a good selection of photographs, and the ch ...more
Jun 13, 2010 rated it it was ok
This book took me forever to read! (Not quite as long as the actual airlift, but sometimes it felt like it.) I wanted more of a narrative story and got a whole lot more logistics, politics, etc. I think it covered the period well, but was a bit hard to follow at times. There were a few characters that we read about reapeatedly, but they were hard to pick out amongst the hundreds of others that played roles in ancedotes. (I liked the ancedotes better.) I did appreciate the "what happened to the p ...more
Jan 03, 2016 rated it liked it
The book is a history of the Berlin airlift, shown close up. Reeves discusses all aspects, from the White House to the pilots to the near-starving residents of the destroyed city of Berlin. There are many first-person accounts, and an epilogue that tells the reader what happened to the people involved in the years after the airlift ended.

I didn't find the book as compelling as Reeves' studies of the presidencies of Kennedy and Nixon, but it was still a worthwhile read.
Tony Taylor
Feb 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Great book, especially if you enjoy history. The Berlin Airlift was America at its best, and was also the stepping stone for the creation of a true post-war ally with Germany. The author presents the story as well as Stephen Ambrose ("Citizen Soldiers") could have done. Every high school or college student should read this account of unselfish heroism by our men in uniform, and of the gratitude shown by the people of Berlin.
Tony O'Donahue
Mar 03, 2011 rated it liked it
A fine, book and a well written. Any books about this time should be well received as they add to our knowledge of a time that was as influential on our lives as the preceding war year, but I found that this book did not really express to me the scope of events surrounding this time as other books dealing with the Berlin Airlift have attempted This though did add to my knowledge, so that is always a good thing.
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Richard Reeves, the bestselling author of such books as President Kennedy: Profile in Power, is an award-winning journalist who has worked for The New York Times, written for The New Yorker, and served as chief correspondent for Frontline on PBS. Currently the senior lecturer at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California, he lives in Los Angeles.