An intimate, often affecting look back at a group of young men who established an American air superiority that persists to...




In his first book, a British journalist tells the story of the airmen who reduced the Third Reich to ashes.

On the 8th Air Force’s dangerous missions, which consisted of persistent daytime bombing of the European continent, 26,000 flyers would die. Targeting airfields, transportation centers, industrial sites, and refineries, the 8th alone dropped 714,000 tons of bombs on Europe between April 1942 and 1945 and, together with the Royal Air Force, killed 593,000 civilians in the bomber offensive. Relying heavily on diaries, letters, journals, and interviews, Wilson tracks the air campaign from the months before D-Day to the fall of Berlin. Chronicling numerous significant raids, his account abounds with arresting detail—the widespread heavy use of Benzedrine to fight tiredness, the frustrating performance of the electric suits designed to keep flyers warm at 28,000 feet—and features broader discussions about air combat—e.g., the role of sheer luck in determining who lived or died and the shockingly high risk of collision. Famous names pop up: European commander Carl Spaatz and, of course, the 8th’s fabled Gen. Jimmy Doolittle. Wilson also touches on the midair explosion that killed young Joe Kennedy, the heroics of Hollywood star Jimmy Stewart, the first “kill” of future legend Chuck Yeager, and the mysterious, deadly plane crash of band leader Maj. Glenn Miller. Mostly, though, Wilson focuses on the everyday pilots, navigators, bombardiers, and gunners, their exploits in the air, and their lives in Britain, a nation whose social life their presence transformed. The American flyboys—“over paid, oversexed, and over here”—married 41,000 British girls, fathering 14,000 babies. Even as their planes regularly fell out of the sky, scarring the countryside and cities, the airmen busied themselves with small cultural revolutions—e.g., introducing swing music to teenagers and peanut butter to schoolboys.

An intimate, often affecting look back at a group of young men who established an American air superiority that persists to this day.

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68177-319-3

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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