John C. McManus, author of The Dead and Those About to Die and September Hope, reveals the terror and triumph that shared the fiery skies of World War II—from the first dogfights over Europe to the last Kamikaze attacks over the Pacific.
This insightful chronicle takes readers inside the experiences of America’s fighter pilots and bomber crews, an incredible assortment of men who, in nearly four years of warfare all over the globe, suffered over 120,000 casualties with over 40,000 killed.
Their stories span the earth into every corner of the combat theaters in both Europe and the Pacific. And the aircraft explored are as varied, tough, and legendary as the men who flew them—from the indomitable heavy-duty warhorse that was the B-17 Flying Fortress to the sleek, lethal P-51 Mustang fighter.
In Deadly Sky, master historian John C. McManus goes beyond the familiar tales of aerial heroism, capturing the sights and sounds, the toil and fear, the adrenaline and the pain of the American airmen who faced death with every mission. In this important, thoroughly-researched work, McManus uncovers the true nature of fighting—and dying—in the skies over World War II.
“From the training camps to the combat missions, this is war from the perspective of the young Americans who lived through it: the pilots, the bombardiers, the navigators, and the gunners of all the combat services in both Europe and in the Pacific. It is an engaging and vivid portrayal of war in the skies from 1941 to 1945.”—Craig L. Symonds, Author of The Battle of Midway and Neptune: The Allied Invasion of Europe and the D-Day Landings
“These extraordinary eyewitness accounts put a human face on the bombing campaign against Nazi Germany, and tell the story of its savagely contested battles with rare power and empathy. McManus is master of the art of oral history and one of the outstanding historians of World War II.”—Donald L. Miller, Author of Masters of the Air: America’s Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany
“Using their own words, a vivid, thematic report on the personalities, thoughts, and experiences of American airmen in combat during World War II. An important book and an exciting read.”—Gerald Astor, author of The Mighty Eighth
“[Deadly Sky] is one of the most compelling books about men at war that I have ever read. It combines superb analysis of the World War II air war around the world with riveting, often heartbreaking eyewitness testimony from the participants…A truly great read.”—Tom Fleming, author of The Great Divide
“Especially moving are the words of the men who struggled to make sense of the horrors of war. They were not simply extensions of the war effort but fiercely independent men who thought seriously about what they were doing.”—Smithsonian Air and Space
A white-knuckle account of the 1st Infantry Division’s harrowing D-Day assault on the eastern sector of Omaha Beach—acclaimed historian John C. McManus has written a gripping history that will stand as the last word on this titanic battle.
Nicknamed the Big Red One, 1st Division had fought from North Africa to Sicily, earning a reputation as stalwart warriors on the front lines and rabble-rousers in the rear. Yet on D-Day, these jaded combat veterans melded with fresh-faced replacements to accomplish one of the most challenging and deadly missions ever. As the men hit the beach, their equipment destroyed or washed away, soldiers cut down by the dozens, courageous heroes emerged: men such as Sergeant Raymond Strojny, who grabbed a bazooka and engaged in a death duel with a fortified German antitank gun; T/5 Joe Pinder, a former minor-league pitcher who braved enemy fire to save a vital radio; Lieutenant John Spalding, a former sportswriter, and Sergeant Phil Streczyk, a truck driver, who together demolished a German strongpoint overlooking Easy Red, where hundreds of Americans had landed.
Along the way, McManus explores the Gap Assault Team engineers who dealt with the extensive mines and obstacles, suffering nearly a fifty percent casualty rate; highlights officers such as Brigadier General Willard Wyman and Colonel George Taylor, who led the way to victory; and punctures scores of myths surrounding this long-misunderstood battle.
The Dead and Those About to Die draws on a rich array of new or recently unearthed sources, including interviews with veterans. The result is history at its finest, the unforgettable story of the Big Red One’s nineteen hours of hell—and their ultimate triumph—on June 6, 1944.
The praise is pouring in for this landmark new book on the Normandy invasion.
“Magnificent! I could not put this book down. John McManus has expanded our knowledge of D-Day history by a considerable factor. It is a great read and will appeal to both devoted students of World War II as well as those with a more casual interest. Don’t miss it!” —Joseph Balkoski, author of Omaha Beach and Utah Beach
“John McManus’ brilliant chronicle of the Big Red One’s experience on Bloody Omaha captures the grit, pathos, and valor of the battle like no other book that I have read. This is gripping history—beautifully and masterfully told by one of America’s premier historians.” —Patrick O’Donnell, national bestselling author of Dog Company
“At first I thought I would draw the reader’s attention to the simply magnificent narrative of one of the most famous and gripping events of modern military history, the nineteen hours epic of the First Division’s landing, purgatory, and then near-exhausted triumph at Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944. Then I thought I would draw the attention of my professional fellow-historians to the outstanding set of notes and oral histories, so neatly tucked away at the end, superb scholarship but worn so lightly. But finally I had to choose its ending, the chapter called “Meaning,’ on the thoughts, emotions, and later lives of this remarkable group of warriors. I closed this book with the deepest respect.” —Paul Kennedy, J. Richardson Dilworth Professor of History, Director of International Security Studies, Yale University
The Dead and Those About to Die is a gripping, first-hand account of the desperate battle of Omaha beach on D-Day by the legendary 1st Infantry Division, the Big Red One. One the 70th anniversary of that momentous event, John C. McManus’ tale of courage under fire is a vivid reminder that freedom isn’t free and that when the chips are down stalwart American soldiers will always answer the call of duty.” —Carlo D’Este, author of Patton: A Genius for War and Decision in Normandy
“With painstaking research, military historian John C. McManus delves behind the broader canvas of Omaha Beach to capture the courage, grit, and sacrifice of the 1st Division’s D-Day landing. This is as real as it gets without having been there.” —Walter Borneman, national bestselling author of The Admirals, winner of the Samuel Eliot Morison Award
“A skilled and highly talented author, John McManus has delivered another first-rate piece of scholarship. The Dead and Those About to Die is a tour de force of historical writing.” —Robert von Maier, Editor-in-Chief of Global War Studies
“In vivid and chilling detail, this brilliantly organized battle narrative immortalizes the 1st Division’s assault on Omaha Beach. Having unearthed eyewitness accounts of courage, carnage, fear and leadership never told before, McManus’s masterful work deserves a place alongside those of Cornelius Ryan, Stephen Ambrose and Rick Atkinson.” —David Roll, author of The Hopkins Touch: Harry Hopkins and the Forging of the Alliance to Defeat Hitler
“John McManus created a portrait with words as Spielberg did with images in Saving Private Ryan. Of course creating such a vivid picture with words is, for my money, far more difficult.” —Paul Reid, author of The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965