Books I Couldn’t Finish: Masters Of The Air by Donald Miller

masters-of-the-air-coverBook: Masters Of The Air by Donald Miller

Published October 2006 by Simon & Schuster|671 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: Adult Non-Fiction/History/World War 2/Military History

Blog Graphic-What It's About

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 people.

Fighting at 25,000 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 U.S. 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 U.S. Marine Corps.

The 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 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 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.

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

I really love history, and thought Masters Of The Air looked really interesting.  It’s a book I’ve been reading off and on for a while, but I had a hard time getting through it.

I only got about 100 pages in before deciding that this book isn’t for me.  It’s not that it’s uninteresting, because I did think it was a pretty informative book.  Before I picked this book up, I never thought about the Air Force not being its own entity.  For me, it’s always been separate branch of the U.S. military.  But it seems like there were different incarnations under the Army- at least from what I could tell.  There’s this guy, William Mitchell, and he fought hard for an independent Air Force.

Another interesting thing was that a lot of the pilots experienced some form of oxygen deprivation- very few died from it, but something 50 to 60% experienced it.  A lot of it was because of poor planning- there was such a focus on getting the planes (and men) into the air that they didn’t think about little things.  There was a bigger focus on bombing strategy and not a lot on preparing the crews to survive in the conditions necessary to actually executing that strategy.

So why didn’t I finish it?  I had a really hard time getting through it.  It’s very detailed, and just from the 100 pages or so I read, it was clear to me that Miller put a lot of research and time into this book.  Even randomly picking up the book and reading a chapter didn’t help- I felt like I was struggling to get through it.  Since it also focuses more on military history, it’s more technical than what I’m used to reading, and that was a contributing factor in my inability to get through it.   It’s not for lack of trying, and as much as I wanted to get through it, I knew it was time to put it down and walk away.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

DNF.  I don’t feel like it’s fair to give a star rating for something I didn’t get very far into before deciding to not finish it.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books For People Who Have Never Read About The Tudors

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely folks over at The Broke And The Bookish.  Every week, bloggers from all over share their own top ten list based on the topic of the week.  You can find all Top Ten Tuesdays here.

Top Ten Books For People Who Have Never Read About The Tudors

Tudor England is one of my favorite time periods ever!  I’ve been fascinated with the Tudors ever since I did a research project on Elizabeth 1 in high school, and since it’s the only era in history I’ve consistently read about, I knew it would be a great topic.  I went for a combination of non-fiction and fiction, and you can’t go wrong with any of the books I talk about.  All links will lead you to goodreads!

Non-Fiction:

  1. The Wives Of Henry VIII by Antonia Frasier.  There are a couple other biographies about the 6 women who were married to Henry VIII (that I know of) and I knew I had to include at least one of them.  I’d go with this one, since it gives the best overview of his wives.
  2. Henry VIII: The King And His Court by Alison Weir.  It’s a really good look at Henry VIII himself, and it’s a pretty long book with quite a few details, but it also give really good insight into Henry’s life and who he was.  (I will say, you can’t go wrong with Alison Weir, who is one of my favorite authors).
  3. Winter King: Henry VII And The Dawn Of Tudor England by Thomas Penn.  Initially, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to include it on this list, because I actually haven’t finished it…because I put it on hold months ago- like, last year months ago.  But even though I haven’t finished it, it’s still an interesting read, because it touches a bit on the Wars Of The Roses, which led to the Tudors sitting on the throne.
  4. Jane Boleyn: The True Story Of The Infamous Lady Rochford by Julia Fox.  It’s been ages since I’ve read it, but it’s a great biography of the sister-in-law of Anne Boleyn and a lady-in-waiting to three Tudor Queens.
  5. The First Queen Of England: The Myth Of “Bloody Mary” by Linda Porter.  I feel like this biography of Mary is good one to read, since it’s actually a really good introduction to who Mary Tudor was and what influenced her to be the person and Queen she was.

Historical Fiction:

  1. Witchstruck by Victoria Lamb.  It’s a great YA paranormal historical fiction about a witch living during the reign of Mary Tudor…and she just happens to be in service to the future Elizabeth I.  It’s a good look at what life was like during this time.
  2. Gilt by Katherine Longshore.  I was debating whether I wanted to include this one or Tarnish, but I went with Gilt because it’s about Katherine Howard, and she doesn’t pop up too often in books about this time period.  (Well, in books that I’ve read).
  3. Mary, Bloody Mary by Carolyn Meyer.  It’s a great middle grade book about Mary Tudor, and I think it would be a great way to introduce the time period to kids.
  4. The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory.  I thought about putting The Other Boleyn Girl on this list, as it’s a book a lot of people probably know.  But I actually like The Boleyn Inheritance better!  Partly because it focuses on Anne Of Cleves, Katherine Howard and Jane Rochford, but also because Gregory can tell a story that keeps you reading.  This one in particular has you invested in the characters.  (Side Note: You can’t go wrong with any of her Tudor Court books.  I haven’t read The Other Queen, but I highly recommend the rest of the series).
  5. The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir.  I tried really hard to include only one Alison Weir book, which was really hard since I’ve read so many books by her.  She’s made the jump from non-fiction to historical fiction sometime in the last few years, and so I felt like a 2nd appearance was warranted.  Overall, her historical fiction is super-accurate and authentic (for those who like that in historical fiction), which is the direct result of writing historical fiction set during the time periods that she researches for her non-fiction stuff.