The Candy Bombers: The Untold Story of the Berlin Airlift and America's Finest Hour

( 5 )

Overview

On the sixtieth anniversary of the Berlin Airlift, Andrei Cherny tells a remarkable story with profound implications for our time. Bringing together newly unclassified documents, unpublished letters and diaries, and fresh primary interviews, he tells the story of the ill-assorted group of castoffs and second-stringers who not only saved millions of desperate people from a dire threat but also changed how the world viewed the United States - setting in motion the chain of events that would ultimately lead to the ...
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Overview

On the sixtieth anniversary of the Berlin Airlift, Andrei Cherny tells a remarkable story with profound implications for our time. Bringing together newly unclassified documents, unpublished letters and diaries, and fresh primary interviews, he tells the story of the ill-assorted group of castoffs and second-stringers who not only saved millions of desperate people from a dire threat but also changed how the world viewed the United States - setting in motion the chain of events that would ultimately lead to the dismantling of the Berlin Wall and America's victory in the Cold War.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In 1948, West Berliners were suffering and hungry, existing on food rations transported by trucks, trains and barges primarily by the occupying American forces. The Russians, trying to control the divided city, blockaded the transports on June 24, 1948, and American and British pilots risked their lives to airlift in 4.6 billion pounds of food and supplies until the blockade was lifted in May 1949. Pilot Hal Halvorsen won Berliners' hearts by secretly dropping his and his buddies' candy rations by parachute into the waiting hands of the city's children. In the process, says Cherny (The Next Deal), Berliners became devoted to democracy, and Washington foreign policy and military brass learned that the Cold War needed to be won not primarily with bullets but by appealing to hearts and minds. This book could have been cut by a third for better effect; Cherny's prose and his references to 9/11 are manipulative, and his subject, particularly the nuts and bolts of the airlift, will appeal primarily to WWII buffs, who should still find much to savor in this exhaustive, often absorbing and lucid account of America's successful standoff against the Soviets. 16 pages of b&w photos. (Apr. 17)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal

After World War II, as the Cold War began poisoning international relationships, the United States had to figure out what its postwar role would be. Its greatest army had largely disbanded, an unpopular President was still struggling to articulate a world policy, and a newly nuclear-armed foe, recently an ally, was occupying half of Europe. Cherny (The Next Deal), a former speechwriter for Al Gore, spends much of this book explaining how postwar Berlin became a crisis point and the reaction of the Western Allies to the Soviet threat and blockade of West Berlin. In immense, mind-deadening detail, he recounts the successes of the Berlin Airlift (June 1948-May 1949) in response to the Soviet blockade. He covers its management by Gen. William Tunner, who had run the great Chinese airlift in the final year of World War II, as well as the experiences and concerns of some of the pilots and the technical problems that arose. The political story is interwoven with the story of Secretary of Defense James Forrestal's mental and physical collapse, the disagreements between George Marshall and Truman, and the ambivalence of the American public. Recommended for subject collections, particularly where related resources are available.
—Edwin B. Burgess Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information

Kirkus Reviews
Writing with the flair of a novelist, Cherny (The Next Deal: The Future of Public Life in the Information Age, 2000) tells the story of the Berlin Airlift. The author sets the scene with the dramatic meeting of Russian and American troops at the banks of the Elbe on April 25, 1945. "The forces of liberation have joined hands," announced the BBC; only Berlin remained to be subdued to end the war in Europe. The Red Army was first into the bombed-out city, which it vengefully pillaged and raped. Within three years, the Soviet Union had methodically expanded its hegemony in Eastern Europe, and relations with America were dangerously strained. In Berlin, the Russians manipulated elections in their sector and rejected the Western currency. Closing entrances into the American, British and French sectors of the city on June 25, 1948, the Soviets hoped to push out the West for good, in the process consigning 2.5 million Berliners to starvation. The U.S. airlift of coal and food into Tempelhof was initially intended to buy time during the standoff, but over the course of 11 months Operation Vittles would employ an armada of Skymaster C-54s and deliver millions of tons of cargo. Cherny dramatically weaves together the conjoined fates of numerous characters: Gen. Lucius Clay, newly appointed head of military government of Germany; Secretary of Defense James Forrestal and his nemesis, Secretary of Commerce Henry Wallace, who ran against Truman in 1948; Col. Frank Howley, instrumental in managing the airlift; and pilots Curtis LeMay, Bill Tunner and Gail Halvorsen, the last-named celebrated for dropping little parachutes of candy for Berlin children. The author skillfully delineates the airlift's rolein dramatically improving Germans' and Americans' attitudes toward each other, with significant consequences for the Cold War. His account amplifies and vivifies material presented in a more bare-bones fashion by Jon Sutherland and Diane Canwell in Berlin Airlift: The Salvation of a City (2008). Lively, densely detailed and unabashedly enthusiastic. Agent: Raphael Sagalyn/The Sagalyn Agency
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780594039853
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/17/2008
  • Pages: 640
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 2.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Andrei Cherny is editor of the idea journal Democracy. A former White House speechwriter and Senior Fellow at Harvard's Kennedy School Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, he is the author of The Next Deal</>, and has written on history, politics, and culture for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. Cherny is an officer in the Navy Reserve.
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Table of Contents

Prologue September 2001

Introduction June 24, 1948 1

Pt. I The banks : spring 1945

1 The end 11

2 Tombstones 20

3 Visions 44

4 Flight 57

5 The descent 70

Pt. II The bend : spring 1948

6 Chasm 115

7 March 159

Pt. III The bridge : 1948-1949

8 June 225

9 July 262

10 August 324

11 September 362

12 October 408

13 November 451

14 December 483

15 Spring again 504

Afterword Coming home 535

Epilogue October 1990 549

Notes 551

Bibliography 595

Acknowledgments 605

Index 611

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 11 of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 31, 2011

    Highly Recommend

    Everyone should read this book in acknowledgement of all the men and women of our armed forces who so valiently defend our freedom. This gem of a book will inspire you and provide you with a renewed sense of pure American pride. A must read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 10, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Nice to see people helping others because it is the right thing to do

    I read mostly books on World War II. When I saw this book I thought technically it is not about World War II so maybe I will not take the time to read it. I am so glad I read it.
    At times I felt like maybe the book is too long for the story. But at some point late in the book I seemed to come around to the idea that the length of the story helped me develop a stronger empathy for the people of Berlin. It helped me understand the changes that took place in their attitudes toward Americans and of American's attitudes toward Berliners and how Berliner's outlook on the importance of freedom and survival changed.
    Where can you find a story where one day American flyers are dropping bombs on their enemy and months later they are giving 110% to keep those same people alive? Enemies have become friends and friends have become enemies.
    This story has a little of everything, a tremendous struggle against the odds with big historical significance, and of course the best children and candy story I have ever read. But bottom line it is about people helping people and enemies becoming friends.
    No movie yet? Come On! Candy on a plane beats snakes on a plane any day.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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