The Wild Blue

Version: Unabridged (Abridged version available here)
Author: Stephen E. Ambrose
Narrator: Jeffrey DeMunn
Genres: History
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Published In: August 2001
# of Units: 8 CDs
Length: 9 hours
Tell Your Friends:


The very young men who flew the B24s over Germany in World War II against terrible odds were an exemplary band of brothers. In "The Wild Blue," Stephen Ambrose recounts their extraordinary brand of heroism, skill, daring, and comradeship.

Stephen Ambrose describes how the Army Air Forces recruited, trained, and chose those few who would undertake the most demanding and dangerous jobs in the war. These are the boys -- turned pilots, bombardiers, navigators, and gunners of the B24s -- who suffered over 50 percent casualties.

Ambrose carries us along in the crowded, uncomfortable, and dangerous B24s as their crews fought to the death through thick, black, deadly flak to reach their targets and destroy the German war machine or else went down in flames. Twenty-two-year-old George McGovern who was to become a United States senator and a presidential candidate, flew thirty-five combat missions (all the Army would allow) and won the Distinguished Flying Cross. We meet him and his mates, his co-pilot killed in action, and crews of other planes -- many of whom did not come back.

As "Band of Brothers" and "Citizen Soldiers" portrayed the bravery and ultimate victory of the American soldier from Normandy on to Germany, The Wild Blue makes clear the contribution these young men of the Army Air Forces stationed in Italy made to the Allied victory.

Reviews (12)

wild blue

Written by paul on November 30th, 2011

  • Book Rating: 5/5

excellent read. shows the hard ships and courage that the fly boys encountered on a daily bases.

wild blue

Written by ray n atlanta from Marietta, GA on June 23rd, 2010

  • Book Rating: 1/5

Sucked. Too much detaail not enough action. Not as good as his other books

Wild Blue

Written by Anonymous from Atlanta, GA on August 12th, 2009

  • Book Rating: 5/5

I learned a lot about WW II and the courageous servicemen and women who fought in it. I recommend it to all who want to really know how hard the crews of B52's had it.

Wild Blue

Written by Steve Y on January 6th, 2009

  • Book Rating: 4/5

Stephen Ambrose certainly did a detailed account of this aspect of the war and this time in history. It was particularly personal with names, personalities, and hometowns actually putting faces to each individual. The detail brought the tragedy of war and the courage of those brave, selfless young men even more to heart. These were an amazing group of warriors who deserve the honor and respect of a grateful nation. The focus on George McGovern really shed light on what a true hero and a great American he is overshadowing whatever political opinions one might have formulated from the rest of McGovern's public service.

You can't go wrong with Mr. Ambrose

Written by Greg from Charles Town, WV on September 15th, 2007

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Stephen Ambrose had to be one if not the greatest American historian. Every book he has written is a treasure. This story of George McGovern and the B-24's of the 15th Air Force out of Italy brings to light an entire portion of WWII not covered in our history books. These men defined what America is and should be all about. Stephen Ambrose and the veterns of WWII will be missed and both were most definetely part of America's GREATEST GENERATION.

Concise Ambrose

Written by David Anthony from West Chester, PA on September 13th, 2007

  • Book Rating: 4/5

I have greatly enjoyed all of Stephen E. Ambrose's works over the last few years. If you already love his books, read this one as well. The heroism of the B-17 and B-24 pilots makes for a great read. However, for those who have hesitated to pick up one of Ambrose's longer studies, The Wild Blue is a perfect primer. Relatively short, but filled with the detail and personal stories which constitute the foundation of an Ambrose history, here's where you'll get hooked. 4 stars rather than 5 only because the reader is a bit flat.

wild blue

Written by center50 on May 24th, 2007

  • Book Rating: 3/5

Not that much new. Much about McGovern, but not all that interesting.

The Wild Blue

Written by Peter Andresen on April 8th, 2005

  • Book Rating: 4/5

I thought this book was an excellent listening experience. It's hard to believe that such boys could undertake such an extreme experience and triumph, but they did. Steven Ambrose has done a wonderful job capturing their personal experiences by focusing on the adventures of one aircrew. Definitely worth your time! My only complaint: the un-abridged version would probably be better!

It Is Like I Was There

Written by David Stricklin from Arlington, TX on February 15th, 2005

  • Book Rating: 2/5

I am a big fan of Steven Ambrose. I found myself looking for excuses to get into my car and drive; so that I could listen to The Wild Blue. As usual, Ambrose is the master of telling the story of historical events at the same time he tells the stories of the people involved in those events. This combination of the factual and the personal allowed me to imagine, vividly, that I was a participant of those events.

George McGovern

Written by Anonymous on January 4th, 2005

  • Book Rating: 3/5

The book held my interest but just barely. It felt like listening to a bunch of short stories rather than a book. I also found the book description somewhat misleading, as a large portion of the book is dedicated as a biography of George McGovern. I rated the book as average.

Author Details

Author Details

Ambrose, Stephen E.

"Dr. Stephen Ambrose was a renowned historian, biographer, and acclaimed author of more than 30 books. Among his New York Times best-sellers were: NOTHING LIKE IT IN THE WORLD, CITIZEN SOLDIERS, BAND OF BROTHERS, D-DAY - JUNE 6, 1944, UNDAUNTED COURAGE, and WILD BLUE. TO AMERICA: Personal Reflections of an Historian is his latest book; and coming out in the winter 2002 is MERIWETHER LEWIS, THOMAS JEFFERSON, AND THE OPENING OF THE AMERICAN WEST: The Climactic Battle of World War II.

He was not only a great author, but also a captivating speaker, with the unique ability to provide insight into the future by employing his profound knowledge of the past. His stories demonstrated how leaders use trust, friendship and shared experiences to work together and thrive during conflict and change. His philosophy about audience engagement was best put in his own words:

As I sit at my computer, or stand at the podium, I think of myself as sitting around the campfire after a day on the trail, telling stories that I hope will have the members of the audience, or the readers, leaning forward just a bit, wanting to know what happens next.

Dr. Ambrose was a retired Boyd Professor of History at the University of New Orleans. He was the Director Emeritus of the Eisenhower Center in New Orleans, and the founder of the National D-day Museum. He was also a contributing editor for the Quarterly Journal of Military History, a member of the board of directors for American Rivers, and a member of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Council Board.

His talents did not go unnoticed by the film industry. Dr. Ambrose was the historical consultant for Steven Spielberg's movie Saving Private Ryan. Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks also purchased the film rights to his books CITIZEN SOLDIERS and BAND OF BROTHERS, which resulted in a 13-hour HBO mini-series in 2001.

Ambrose also participated in numerous national television programs, including ones for the History Channel and National Geographic."