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Clearly Truman Smith was a very good pilot as must have been 'Moon'. You couldn't survive a 35 mission tour on luck alone. When Truman takes over the plane for his last few missions it's apparent how much more than pilot ability is required to survive.
What a great read (listen). A very easy style of narrative perfectly suited to describing a life of
continual stress. You are with him all the way.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
This book introduced some thought provoking concepts regarding what is required to win a war. Without spoiling it you can see the validity of his philosophy when you look at the wars of the last 40 odd years.
That aside, this is an amazing story of a 20 year old thrust into the thick of air combat as a B 17 Bomber co-pilot. You experience the fear and excitement 5 miles above the ground as the crew strive to survive first 25 combat tours, then as they near that target the marker is moved to 30 before the final move to 35 combat missions. For the crew to reach that figure is indeed a fantastic achievement, couple that with the huge amount of "wrong stuff" that conspired against them makes it even more monumental. This is a story of human sacrifice at its best and its worst, with an early recognition of the mental impact day light air campaigns had on the crews. This is definitely on my listen to again list.
I was surprised that the book is such a recent work. The descriptions were so vivid that it seemed like a report that must have been penned during the action.
60 of 60 people found this review helpful
One of the books written about the individual aviator warrior of WWII. Humor, pathos, irreverence, deep introspection--it's all there and I'm happy to see that it survived to my days as an air force crew dog. Smith includes several details about which others may have wondered, but have become air force legend, like just how one handles "nature's call" in a B-17 at thirty-thousand feet. The book emphasizes the idea that warriors/soldiers fight for their buddies, and not necessarily out of patriotism or other high ideals. Once I got to know Smitty and the crew I didn't want it to end. Loved the history lesson--the war fought in the skies of Europe was never a glamorous affair, rather composed of misery and even humor. It would have been a boring book if not for the interludes between sorties--he reveals inexperience with alcohol and women--you’re reminded he’s still just a kid. I find it equally amazing how vivid Smith’s memory was in recounting his wartime service, some 50 years later.
44 of 44 people found this review helpful