The Candy Bombers
By Andrei Cherny
(Putnam Adult, Hardcover, 9780399154966, 640pp.)
Publication Date: April 17, 2008
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The masterfully told story of the unlikely men who came together to make the Berlin Airlift one of the great military and humanitarian successes of American history.
On the sixtieth anniversary of the Berlin Airlift, Andrei Cherny tells a remarkable story with profound implications for the world today. In the tradition of the best narrative storytellers, he brings together newly unclassified documents, unpublished letters and diaries, and fresh primary interviews to tell the story of the ill-assorted group of castoffs and second-stringers who not only saved millions of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 changed how the world viewed the United States, and set in motion the chain of events that would ultimately lead to the dismantling of the Berlin Wall and to America's victory in the Cold War.
On June 24, 1948, intent on furthering its domination of Europe, the Soviet Union cut off all access to West Berlin, prepared to starve the city into submission unless the Americans abandoned it. Soviet forces hugely outnumbered the Allies', and most of America's top officials considered the situation hopeless. But not all of them.
Harry Truman, an accidental president, derided by his own party; Lucius Clay, a frustrated general, denied a combat command and relegated to the home front; Bill Tunner, a logistics expert downsized to a desk job in a corner of the Pentagon; James Forrestal, a secretary of defense beginning to mentally unravel; Hal Halvorsen, a lovesick pilot who had served far from the conflict, flying transport missions in the backwater of a global war--together these unlikely men improvised and stumbled their way into a uniquely American combination of military and moral force unprecedented in its time.
This is the forgotten foundation tale of America in the modern world, the story of when Americans learned, for the first time, how to act at the summit of world power--a masterful and exciting work of historical narrative, and one with strong resonance for our time.