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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 internees, and the huge cost of the air campaign The statistic that most stood out to me was that the Eighth Air Force enduredfatalities than the entire US Marine Corp during the war Miller also devoted time to questions of precision bombing well, trying to be precise vs carpet bombing and the morality of bombing non combatants Along with the ugly side of war and the hard questions, he also showed amazing examples of cooperation between crew members, endurance during difficult circumstances, and tremendous bravery as the men still flying got into their planes again and again and again.One of the questions raised is was it worth it Early Air Corp leaders thought they could bomb Germany into submission, without an invasion That theory was proved wrong, but I think it is fairly clear that the air war contributed significantly to the war s end It inhibited Germany s ability to wage war, diverted German manpower and resources that would have otherwise been used elsewhere, and it s doubtful D day could have been pulled off if the Allies hadn t achieved air superiority by June 1944.Miller bounced around a bit chronologically and up and down the command chain For the most part, he did a good job with this, but there were a few times when I thought it was a little jarring But even with that, this was the most comprehensive WWII ETO air war book I ve ever read not that I ve read a ton on the subject, but this wasn t my first air war book If it s a subject you re interested in, this book is well worth picking up. The losses of men and aircraft and the destruction of cities is incredible Hindsight is of course a wonderful thing but some of the tactical decisions made are troubling. 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 need So many aspects of the war are covered, many areas I had little or no knowledge of Mr Miller keeps it interesting, never a dull moment He begins with a concise explanation of the theories of this new dimension in warfare Guilio Douhet and BGen Billy Mitchell are the famous proponents of airpower as a decisive new weapon, both men believed a sustained strategic campaign against the civilian infrastructure and population would mean a quicker victory and fewer casualties overall Mr Miller covers this theoretical grounding of airpower theory quickly and moves along to the important Air Corps Tactical School in Alabama Here is where the theory of strategic bombing became dogma, where the foundation was laid for the daylight precision bombing campaign that would be so bloody Mitchell and Douhet theories view spoilerFor the first time in the history of modern armed conflict, civilians were singled out as deliberate military targets, not only because they were valuable producers, but also because they were easy to intimidate Both Douhet and Mitchell were convinced that civilians lacked the fortitude to stand up to vertical warfare waged with high explosives, incendiaries, and poisonous gases, that generation s equivalent, in terror generating capacity, of atomic warfare The evidence they had before them was the mass panic and terror in London and Cologne caused by World War I bombing attacks, air strikes far smaller than either of them envisioned in future wars The new wars will be decided swiftly, Douhet argued, precisely because the decisive blows will be directed at civilians, that element of the countries at war least able to sustain them Modern industrial states, they theorized, were highly vulnerable to air attack because their economies formed a delicate, interconnected fabric or web A relentless precision bombing campaign needed to hit only those industries that made products, or supplied services, essential to almost all other industries Destroy an enemy s choke points its steel, electric power, ball bearing, oil, and railroad industries and its entire war economy would collapse, making continued military resistance untenable. hide spoiler 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 bitink than others, but that s to be expected not every group can get the same amount of coverage There is a great amount of personal recollections in the book, and not just from pilots but from aircrew and groundcrew as well.Designed to be a force of daylight, high altitude precision bombers, the 8th went through some very painful growing pains High losses and the unlikely odds of actually completing a combat tour of 25 missions lead to questions of morale, leadership and the very concept of daylight precision bombing All of these topics are discussed in detail, and although hindsight is 20 20, I feel the author did a good job of presenting things fairly and showing the historical context of the situations There are really good chapters on the POW experience and the issue of 8th AF bombers landing in neutral countries such as Sweden and Switzerland.A comparison of the British bombing campaign and leadership with that of the Americans is a common thread throughout the book Both sides wished to defeat the Germans, but had very different ideas about how to do it The British preferred to bomb by night and they put a fair amount of pressure upon the Americans to join them, but the Americans stuck to daylight bombing and in the end received vindication of their efforts.The book concludes with an examination of tactics and results, especially those found by the United States Strategic Bombing Survey conducted after the war and from interviews conducted with several high ranking Germans such as Erhard Milch, Albert Speer, Herman Goering and Adolf Galland.A very enjoyable book which gives a good overall picture of the war fought by the bombers of the 8th AF, along with a fair amount of detail Definitely worth adding to any aviation or World War II library. Masters of the Air is an well deserved classic of military history, focusing on the Eighth Air Force, the United States strategic bomber arm that was the first American unit to bring the war to Nazi Germany, and which pioneered the tactics and techniques of strategic bombing.By all reason, the strategic air campaign should not have worked Army Air Corps doctrine in the late 30s was built around three major pillars the heavily armed B 17 Flying Fortress was self escorting and could fend off hostile fighters the gyroscopic Norden bombsite could hit pinpoint targets with accuracy and precision attacks on vital centers of industry could cripple an enemy military without the need for battles of attrition All three of these assumptions would be proven wrong in the skies over German, with deadly consequences for the men who had been trained and equipped on them The cloudless skies of test ranges over the American southwest were nothing like the weather over England and Germany Men froze in the stratospheric slipstream, and bombers were lost in rapidly changing weather conditions Flak and fighters ripped through the B 17 and B 24s, inflicting proportional casualties as high as any duty in the war, matched only by submarine crews Nazi industry proved surprisingly resilient Yet even if every specific of pre war doctrine was wrong, the bombers succeeded in their most important tasks Defense against bombers escorted by P 51s in the months leading up to Overlord deciminated the Luftwaffe, and the landings were unopposed from the air The transport and oil campaigns feel short of paralyzing the Nazi war machine, but delay and friction impeded the panzers, and gave the Normandy beachhead time to stabilize and expand And the thousands of heavy guns shooting at the sky, and not T 34s on the steppes, had some helpful effect on the Eastern Front.Miller was inspired to write this book in part by his friendship with Lt Col Robert Rosie Rosenthal of the Bloody 100th Bombardment Wing, and this book shines in depicting the human side of the Eighth It was a whole new kind of warfare Crews would take off in English fog, endure hours of torment over Europe, return, and potentially be in London with a pretty girl by evening War at the limits of technology was intensely dangerous The first teams, dispatched in 1943, had a one in five chance of completing the required 25 missions Frostbite, flak, and fighters were the three terrors of this aerial front Showcase raids, like Schweinfurt Regensburg and Ploesti, caused terrible losses for temporary results The courage that it took to fly straight and level, holding formation through the worst, was like something out of Napoleonic warfare, standing in ranks to take fire Bomber crews were teams as tightly knit as any on Earth Along with the flying, there are stories about leaves around England, the traditions of the bases, and the devotion of the men to each other.But the mission was murder Thousands of the bomber boys died in combat, and manywere grievously wounded, or held captive in Nazi POW camps this book does not neglect the POW perspective And point military targets soon shifted to area targets like railyards and factories in German cities, and in the last months of the war morale bombings to break the will of the German people, a campaign of terror through mass civilian death Miller tries to draw a distinction between the goals of the Eight Air Force and the RAF s city busting campaigns under Bomber Harris, but I m not sure the Brits deserve that characterization Area bombing against civilians is a war crime, and we can recognize that without the slide into the fallacy that there s no difference between the air campaign and the Holocaust In the end, strategic bombing failed in its goal of shorter, cleaner wars Attrition moved from the trenches to the skies But the men who flew those missions were a rare breed There are damn few of them left Both my grandfathers served in WW2, one in the Pacific, and one was never deployed I m a member of the Commemorative Air Force, which keeps a B 17, Sentimental Journey, flying This book has deepened my appreciation of airpower, the mission, and especially the men. 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, muchthan 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 the viability of strategic bombardment Miller is incredibly well read on a vast amount of literature relating to the air campaign over Europe and draws on many of these sources to produce a rich first rate history There is something in MASTERS for any fan of history I particularly enjoyed his handling of the sticky question of whether strategic bombing was a success From the point of view of the pre war bomber barons the answer is no Heavy bombers alone were not able to defeat Germany But theimportant question is whether the damage they did inflict was worth the effort put forth and the answer to that is a resounding yes Miller does a fine job though of making clear that the strategic bombing was not the sole mission of the 8th Throughout late 1943 and early 1944 the main mission of the 8th was too break the Luftwaffe fighter force by hitting targets the Jagdwaffe would be force to defend and then shooting down the German fighters Destruction of the Luftwaffe was a pre requisite for Operation Overlord and the 8th was the only force able to carry it out German fighter routinely avoided combat with Allied fighters it took attacks on key targets by bombers to bring them out where American escorts could get them Coincidently this campaign against German airpower also paved the way for later campaigns against oil and transportation targets in Germany This is where strategic bombing came into it s own It was never able to win the war alone but it severely curtailed German production efforts in the last months of the war and shortened the war by months.I m only touching the surface of what MASTERS offers If you have any interest in the air war over Europe or the 8th Air Force I strongly recommend this book It is sure to be the standard history of the 8th. .READ KINDLE ♶ Masters of the Air: America's Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany ♃ 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 With The Narrative Power Of Fiction, Donald Miller Takes Readers On A Harrowing Ride Through The Fire Filled Skies Over Berlin, Hanover, And Dresden And Describes The Terrible Cost Of Bombing For The German PeopleFighting At , Feet In Thin, Freezing Air That No Warriors Had Ever Encountered Before, Bomber Crews Battled New Kinds Of Assaults On Body And Mind Air Combat Was Deadly But Intermittent Periods Of Inactivity And Anxiety Were Followed By Short Bursts Of Fire And Fear Unlike Infantrymen, Bomber Boys Slept On Clean Sheets, Drank Beer In Local Pubs, And Danced To The Swing Music Of Glenn Miller S Air Force Band, Which Toured US Air Bases In England But They Had A Much Greater Chance Of Dying Than Ground Soldiers In , An American Bomber Crewman Stood Only A One In Five Chance Of Surviving His Tour Of Duty, Twenty Five Missions The Eighth Air Force Lost Men In The War Than The US Marine CorpsThe Bomber Crews Were An Elite Group Of Warriors Who Were A Microcosm Of America White America, Anyway African Americans Could Not Serve In The Eighth Air Force Except In A Support Capacity The Actor Jimmy Stewart Was A Bomber Boy, And So Was The King Of Hollywood, Clark Gable And The Air War Was Filmed By Oscar Winning Director William Wyler And Covered By Reporters Like Andy Rooney And Walter Cronkite, All Of Whom Flew Combat Missions With The Men The Anglo American Bombing Campaign Against Nazi Germany Was The Longest Military Campaign Of World War II, A War Within A War Until Allied Soldiers Crossed Into Germany In The Final Months Of The War, It Was The Only Battle Fought Inside The German HomelandStrategic Bombing Did Not Win The War, But The War Could Not Have Been Won Without It American Airpower Destroyed The Rail Facilities And Oil Refineries That Supplied The German War Machine The Bombing Campaign Was A Shared Enterprise The British Flew Under The Cover Of Night While American Bombers Attacked By Day, A Technique That British Commanders Thought Was Suicidal Masters Of The Air Is A Story, As Well, Of Life In Wartime England And In The German Prison Camps, Where Tens Of Thousands Of Airmen Spent Part Of The War It Ends With A Vivid Description Of The Grisly Hunger Marches Captured Airmen Were Forced To Make Near The End Of The War Through The Country Their Bombs DestroyedDrawn From Recent Interviews, Oral Histories, And American, British, German, And Other Archives, Masters Of The Air Is An Authoritative, Deeply Moving Account Of The World S First And Only Bomber War 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 who served in it Author does an excellent job with a narrative that allows the reader to get detailed insight into the personal experience of serving with 8th Airforce How did one deal with the enormous stresses and paradoxes of flying a mission over Berlin during the day and going to bed in a soft bed in the evening How did U.S servicemen interact with their British hosts What did the experience of being a German POW feel like These questions and a whole lotare answered with help of author s skillful narrative and frequent usage of personal recollections of men who were there The scope of Masters of the air is however bigger that than just the human experience of 8th Airforce s military personel Intermingled with the personal stories of U.S servicemen, British civilians and sometimes also pilots and civilians on the German side are two other equally important and fascinating stories The first tells the story of conceptual and practical development of heavy bomber as strategic weapon during World War 2 Starting point for 8th Airforce was founded on a lot of seriously flawed pre war preconceptions and theories Over the course of the war, based on practical experience bought at terrifying cost, it transformed itself into a horrifyingly effective and destructive military machine The author slowly walks the reader through this metamorphosis with help of recurring tangents spread throughout the book Another set of tangents is dedicated to a discussion regarding the effectivness and consequences of U.S bombing campaign of Germany from military, economical and moral perspective In those sections of the book, the analysis goes in depth into such issues as most effective allocation of resources, identification and exploitation of strategic softspots and other, in my opinion quite complex, topics related to military strategy Perhaps the most difficult and troublesome aspect of U.S bombing campaign against Germany its morality or rather lack thereof is also discussed at length.Author s input regarding these rather heavy topics is by no means superficial On the contrary, his analysis is at times among the most detailed and well argumented I ve encountered during my couple of decades of study of history of Second World War What s , the author takes a rather controversial stand regarding certain issues which are hotly disputed among historians and analysts even today, which in my opinion makes his contribution evenfascinating and interesting.My major problem with this book is that I m not entirely convinced that intermixing the human story aspect of this book and the two muchtechnical and specialized topics was a very good idea I admit that the author not only makes this rather odd mix work, but actually manages to make the three main topics of this book complement each other But I also believe that this choice makes Masters of the air quite demanding on reader s prior knowledge of the subject of this book For a military history buff like me this book is a treat For a casual reader it may be a bit hard to absorb and appreciate. 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 doneto cover the air war in the PTO but this is the American Psyche war in Europe was known because of the general knowledge of Americans and geographical locations on the globe Battle of Britain or the Battle of New Britain Which would you be most likely to recall from history Herein lay the fundamental issues Still this book is fascinating. 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