The men of the 57th Bomb Wing flew out of Corsica during World War II and bombed vital bridges throughout Italy to sabotage German supply routes. Their missions were dangerous and never-ending. One bombardier in the wing was a young New Yorker named Joseph Heller, who would later turn his experience into the classic 1961 war novel Catch-22. Now aviation historian Thomas McKelvey Cleaver takes a closer look at the real-life men of the 57th, whose camaraderie in the face of death inspired the raucous cast of heroes and antiheros in Catch-22.
|Product dimensions:||9.10(w) x 6.10(h) x 1.20(d)|
About the Author
Thomas McKelvey Cleaver, screenwriter and military historian, is a contributing editor of Flight Journal and the author of Aces of the 78th Fighter Group, Air Combat Annals, and Fabled Fifteen: The Pacific War Saga of Carrier Air Group 15. He served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The exploits and achievements of the 57th Bomb Wing in the Mediterranean Theater are not well known especially considering the number of unique firsts and superlatives they amassed during the fighting there from February 1943 until the end of the war in May of 1945. After the war Herman Göring stated to Army interrogators: “The disruption of our [transportation] lines has done more harm to us than the destruction of our factories.” This was the job at which the Bridgebusters excelled. The lack of general knowledge about the Wing is even more puzzling when you consider that the greatest novel to come out of WWII, Joseph Heller's Catch-22, was woven from the very fabric of his personal experiences as a bombardier in the 57th Bomb Wing. The Wing could not have found a better historian than Tom Cleaver to bring their story to the attention of WWII historians and enthusiasts everywhere. Cleaver uses his encyclopedic knowledge of operations in the MTO to recount the action on the ground as well as in the air in order to establish the context of the sacrifices made by the men of the 57th. Mr. Cleaver is the first author to have total access to the complete archives of the 57th Bomb Wing Association, and was able to do personal interviews with the crewmen who braved the dreaded German 88's over Italy and France. Cleaver's text was fact-checked by Wing historians and veterans of the 57th assuring the reader of the most accurate and comprehensive account of the Wing's history ever published in English. His crisp, fast-moving descriptions of the action inside stricken B-25 bombers will have you on the edge of your seat, as well as the accounts of the fliers evading capture after bailing out over enemy territory. And then there is Catch-22. Cleaver looks at some of Heller's toughest missions and shows how they were incorporated into his work of 'fiction' almost detail for detail. Cleaver also incorporates some never before seen resources that cast new light on Heller and the origins of Catch-22. The Bridgebusters is an absolute 'must' anyone who wants to have a full understanding of the war in the MTO.