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Introducing...The Sky Blazers: The Adventures of a Special Band of Troops That Entertained the Allied Forces During World War II
     

Introducing...The Sky Blazers: The Adventures of a Special Band of Troops That Entertained the Allied Forces During World War II

4.0 1
by Claire Gerus
 

In New York City in 1939, neither eighteen-year-old Jack “Jake” Jacobson nor his comrade Murray “Duke” Davison had any intention of joining the military. Their sights were set on playing club dates in what Duke called the “upholstered sewers” of Manhattan. Jake, a comic, and Duke, a jazz trumpet player, were amateur entertainers

Overview


In New York City in 1939, neither eighteen-year-old Jack “Jake” Jacobson nor his comrade Murray “Duke” Davison had any intention of joining the military. Their sights were set on playing club dates in what Duke called the “upholstered sewers” of Manhattan. Jake, a comic, and Duke, a jazz trumpet player, were amateur entertainers looking for their big break, not men in uniform readying themselves for war.

That all changed after Pearl Harbor. Newly inspired, Jake and Duke decided to act honorably and enlist in the U.S. Army Air Corps. En route to their first assignment in North Africa, Jake and Duke persuaded Gen. Lewis Brereton of the Ninth Air Force to allow them to perform for their fellow soldiers and boost morale. Spurred by Jake and Duke’s success, Brereton subsequently created the first Combat Special Services Entertainment Unit.

The eventual formation of this fifteen-piece troupe of comics, singers, and musicians—dubbed the “Sky Blazers”—lightened the spirits of combat troops across the Middle East, England, and France during the war. In their two and a half years overseas, they would have many close calls with the enemy as they struggled to put on their shows for the weary Allied forces. The Sky Blazers would also be privy to the glitz of the entertainment business, even performing for Egyptian royalty and at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Rife with glamorous highs and lifethreatening lows, Jacobson’s wartime story continues to entertain.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“An outstanding survey suitable for military and music collections alike.”

“A good book about a completely different side of the war—and a subject that would probably bring a smile to all those who remember watching the Sky Blazers perform.”

“General readers and fans of military history will enjoy the episodic account of this troupe’s shows throughout Europe and the Middle East as well as their frequent encounters with enemy forces.”

“…a key part of any serious military or music library.”

“Gives readers one of the most enjoyable, light-hearted memoirs of life during World War II that can be imagined. There are few books about war that can make the reader feel true happiness and Introducing . . . The Sky Blazers does just that.”

Introducing . . . the Sky Blazers adds an interesting chapter to the story of the war, told in a slapstick style that authentically reflects one tenor of the times. If you like the radio programs, comedy, and culture of the 1940s, you’ll savor this spirited memoir.”

"The most memorable time for all of us who lived it, brought back to vibrant presence by a born storyteller. Captures the music, laughter, and tears of a Hollywood classic of the forties—as well as the full horror and heroism of war. The brilliant final exit of a one-time Borscht Belt tummler become broadcasting legend, who never lost his penetrating eye or brimming heart.”

“Jack Jacobson writes (and reports) with passion and humor. To read Introducing . . . The Sky Blazers is to be taken back to what now seems a better, more selfless time. Kudos for helping us to remember the ubiquity of everyday American heroism and hope in a time of terrible challenge. For me, Introducing . . . The Sky Blazers is personal, particularly the prologue set in North Africa in 1943—where my father, Captain Frank B. Coffey, was flying missions in a Martin B-25. Thanks for the memories, Mr. Jacobson, and the laughs.”

“Jack Jacobson has written a thoroughly enjoyable, fast-paced, poignant, funny, and powerful account of an unlikely group of Ninth Air Force soldiers during World War II. Jacobson knows how to pace his story as he takes you from the Jewish streets of the Upper West Side via Dayton, Ohio, to the sands of North Africa, and, via England, to France a scant fifteen days after the Normandy invasion. Full of unexpected twists, Introducing . . . The Sky Blazers may be among the last of the war memoirs as a generation passes away.”

America in WWII

Introducing . . . the Sky Blazers adds an interesting chapter to the story of the war, told in a slapstick style that authentically reflects one tenor of the times. If you like the radio programs, comedy, and culture of the 1940s, you’ll savor this spirited memoir.”—America in WWII
Jerry Lewis

"The most memorable time for all of us who lived it, brought back to vibrant presence by a born storyteller. Captures the music, laughter, and tears of a Hollywood classic of the forties—as well as the full horror and heroism of war. The brilliant final exit of a one-time Borscht Belt tummler become broadcasting legend, who never lost his penetrating eye or brimming heart.”—Jerry Lewis, actor and comedian
Frank Coffey

“Jack Jacobson writes (and reports) with passion and humor. To read Introducing . . . The Sky Blazers is to be taken back to what now seems a better, more selfless time. Kudos for helping us to remember the ubiquity of everyday American heroism and hope in a time of terrible challenge. For me, Introducing . . . The Sky Blazers is personal, particularly the prologue set in North Africa in 1943—where my father, Captain Frank B. Coffey, was flying missions in a Martin B-25. Thanks for the memories, Mr. Jacobson, and the laughs.”—Frank Coffey, author of Always Home: 50 Years of the USO—The Official Photographic History
Deborah Dash Moore

“Jack Jacobson has written a thoroughly enjoyable, fast-paced, poignant, funny, and powerful account of an unlikely group of Ninth Air Force soldiers during World War II. Jacobson knows how to pace his story as he takes you from the Jewish streets of the Upper West Side via Dayton, Ohio, to the sands of North Africa, and, via England, to France a scant fifteen days after the Normandy invasion. Full of unexpected twists, Introducing . . . The Sky Blazers may be among the last of the war memoirs as a generation passes away.”—Deborah Dash Moore, author of GI Jews: How World War II Changed a Generation
World War II Forums

“Gives readers one of the most enjoyable, light-hearted memoirs of life during World War II that can be imagined. There are few books about war that can make the reader feel true happiness and Introducing . . . The Sky Blazers does just that.”—World War II Forums
California Bookwatch

"A key part of any serious military or music library."—California Bookwatch

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781597972857
Publisher:
Potomac Books
Publication date:
07/01/2009
Pages:
292
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Jack Jacobson began his broadcasting career in 1929 on WHAM radio at the age of eight in Rochester, New York. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal and the Jubilee of Freedom Medal from the French government. After World War II, he entered a fifty-four-year career in radio and television broadcasting, which included serving on ABC television network’s first Promotion Advisory Board, and was inducted into the Arizona Broadcasters’ Hall of Fame. He passed away in 2009.

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Introducing...The Sky Blazers: The Adventures of a Special Band of Troops That Entertained the Allied Forces During World War II 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It took a lot of different types of people to support an army of the size the United States had in World War II.  I guess that I knew that there had to be people providing entertainment.  After all, I've seen movies and news stories about entertainers performing before the troops.  But a couple of things surprised me about this book.  First was that a draftee could go propose to set up such a performance oriented organization and second that the brass would even be willing to accept that proposal.  Then, once it was set up, what would the group do?  How would they travel? Where would they go?  This book covers the activities of a group of men who were not at the front line, not driving tanks or flying airplanes, but in a job that the Army considered important enough to support.  It provides a story of a different kind than the normal Army story and I found it interesting and educational.