Download Masters of the Air: America’s Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War against Nazi Germany Audiobook

Masters of the Air: America’s Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War against Nazi Germany Audiobook, by Donald L. Miller Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Donald L. Miller Narrator: Robertson Dean Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: November 2011 ISBN: 9781483077789
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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 listeners on a harrowing ride through the fire-filled skies over Berlin, Hanover, and Dresden and describes the terrible cost of bombing for the German people.

Fighting at twenty-five thousand 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 1943 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 more men in the war than the US Marine Corps.

The bomber crews were an elite group of warriors and a microcosm of America—white America, anyway; African Americans could not serve in the Eighth Air Force except in a support capacity. 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 homeland.

Strategic 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 that captured airmen were forced to make near the end of the war through the country their bombs destroyed.

Drawn 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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Masters of the Air is a stunning achievement. The compound effect of the book’s narrative vitality and attention to human detail is terrific in all the meanings of the word—terrifying, extraordinary, highly admirable. What a story it is!”

    David McCullough, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award–winning author

  • “[A] searching, thoroughly engrossing history of the American air war against Nazi Germany.”

    New York Times

  • “Absorbing and exhaustive…Miller leaves no doubt as to the contribution of the Eighth Air Force to defeating the Germans and helping end what could have been a much longer war.”

    Chicago Tribune

  • “Historian Miller chronicles the story of the US Eighth Air Force in this sprawling, authoritative narrative…Drawing on exhaustive research in oral histories, diaries, and government documents, Miller evenhandedly recounts the Eighth’s successes and failures, emphasizing the stoic heroism of the crews who flew the missions…This eloquent tribute to America’s bomber boys should prove popular among fans of military history.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Miller’s massive, readable volume may prove to be the standard history of the Eighth Air Force.”


  • “A superlative chronicle…A wonderful history…Awesomely researched and written.”

    Library Journal

  • Masters of the Air…is a piece of history that accurately and comprehensively tells the story of the Eighth Air Force going mano a mano against a tough and determined foe. The incredible cost to both sides is recounted in riveting detail. It left me shaken.”

    Lt. Gen. Bernard E. Trainor, USMC (Ret.), coauthor of Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq

  • “Miller’s work is always extraordinary but this large volume is especially remarkable for its valuable recovery of details, like all the psychiatric ruin of the many bomber boys assigned to kill German civilians. This is a rare account of the American Eighth Air Force, and with so many readers hoodwinked by fantasies of The Good War, it deserves wide acceptance and ultimate enshrinement as a classic.”

    Paul Fussell, author of The Great War and Modern Memory

  • “When I learned that Don Miller had written a history of the air war against Germany, I knew that readers would be transported as virtual eye witnesses to this aerial battle field. His gripping reconstruction of what was happening in the planes is matched by the best account yet of what the bombings were doing to Germans on the ground. This book bears the Miller trademark: a strong narrative supported by solid history.”

    Joseph E. Persico, author of Eleventh Month, Eleventh Day, Eleventh Hour: Armistice Day 1918

  • Masters of the Air is a fresh new account of the incredible rise of the American air force from young men learning their trade on the job in combat to an irresistible force that swept the vaunted Luftwaffe from the skies. Author Donald L. Miller knits together the big events of the bombing campaign with illuminating individual human stories of the heroes who lived and died over Germany.”

    Walter J. Boyne, former director, National Air and Space Museum

  • “Over the first years of World War II, the only American casualties on European soil were flyboys shot out of the sky. Long before Normandy, America’s bomber boys waged the Allies’ longest WWII campaign and brought the war to Hitler. Now we are fortunate that the incomparable Donald Miller has brought the memory of these Masters of the Air back to us.”

    James Bradley, author of Flags of Our Fathers and Flyboys

  • Masters of the Air is masterful narrative history, the elegantly interwoven story of the men and boys who first took the war to the heart of Germany. Vivid and meticulous, judicious but not judgmental, Donald L. Miller chronicles the air war over Europe in all its heroism and horror.”

    Geoffrey C. Ward, author of Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson

  • Masters of the Air is a direct hit.”

    Allan R. Millett, director of the Eisenhower Center for American Studies, University of New Orleans

  • “For sixty years we have waited for a history to equal the epic saga of the Eighth Air Force’s struggle with fighters, flak, and weather on a battlefield moving at three miles per minute five miles above the earth’s crust. Now it is here. With brilliant artistry, Don Miller paints the story from the pallet of the voices of the men who manned the planes or waited them out.”

    Richard B. Frank, author of Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire

Listener Reviews

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  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 John | 2/20/2014

    " It provided a good overview of quite a few topics relating to the Eigth Air Force during WWII. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Converse | 1/2/2014

    " Despite the bombastic subtitle, this is a good account of the U. S. 8th Airforce's campaign from Britain against Germany during World War II. The author describes the initial pre-war planning that had a great influence in the type of air force that was created. He also discusses the extent to which the initial American goal of precision bombing actually had different results from the British practice through most of the war of bombing entire cities. Many accounts from participants. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Joe | 12/27/2013

    " As a fan of WWII books I decided this was a must read. I was very pleased with this book. It's amazing what these men went through. I definitely recommend this whether your a fan of history or not. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Brian | 12/23/2013

    " This book is a great mix of overall history of the bomber war with some good first person account thrown into the mix. Really well written and enjoyable. Definitely recommend. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Matt | 11/19/2013

    " Wow! This book draws a complete and amazing picture of what "total" war is. Someone living today cannot understand the sacrifices that this generation made in order that we can be free! Thank every vet you can, especially those of WWII! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Patrick | 11/3/2013

    " Good book, gives and interesting perspective seldom seen in many WW2 book. Most focus on the ground war, but this has lots of details and interesting stories about the air war. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 David | 10/23/2013

    " I'm not a big WWII history fan but this author writes a very good history about a little known contribution to that war and aviation history. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chris | 8/13/2013

    " amazing book about bombers during wwii "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Grant | 1/14/2013

    " Truly a tour-de-force. Probably will remain the standard work on the 8AF for years to come. Amazingly complete and very, very readable. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kyle | 11/4/2012

    " one of the best books that i have read about world war two "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dana | 10/26/2012

    " A great look at the 8th Air Force in World War II. This book details the good and bad of the European bombing campaign that helped defeat Nazi Germany. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Beth/Chuck | 5/6/2012

    " Even after all of the WWII aviation books I have already read, I learned several new facts from this book. Hindsight is 20-20, and it supports with facts the mistakes the decision makers made on strategic bombing target selection. Makes several good arguments on what we should have done. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Amy | 3/21/2012

    " History of the evolution of strategic bombing and an advocate that it actually worked (unlike almost every other historian out there). Me, I'm still up in the air. "

About the Author

Donald L. Miller is the John Henry MacCracken Professor of History Emeritus at Lafayette College and author of ten books, including Masters of the Air, being made into a television series by Tom Hanks. He has hosted, coproduced, or served as historical consultant for more than thirty television documentaries and has written for the New York Times, Washington Post, and other publications.

About the Narrator

Robertson Dean has played leading roles on and off Broadway and at dozens of regional theaters throughout the country. He has a BA from Tufts University and an MFA from Yale. His audiobook narration has garnered ten AudioFile Earphones Awards. He now lives in Los Angeles, where he works in film and television in addition to narrating.