Daring Young Men by Richard Reeves
The Heroism and Triumph of The Berlin Airlift-June 1948-May 1949

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In the early hours of June 26, 1948, phones began ringing across America, waking up the airmen of World War II—pilots, navigators, and mechanics—who were finally beginning normal lives with new houses, new jobs, new wives, and new babies. Some were given just forty-eight hours to report to local military bases. The president, Harry S. Truman, was recalling them to active duty to try to save the desperate people of the western sectors of Berlin, the enemy capital many of them had bombed to rubble only three years before.

Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin had ordered a blockade of the city, isolating the people of West Berlin, using hundreds of thousands of Red Army soldiers to close off all land and water access to the city. He was gambling that he could drive out the small detachments of American, British, and French occupation troops, because their only option was to stay and watch Berliners starve—or retaliate by starting World War III. The situation was impossible, Truman was told by his national security advisers, including the Joint Chiefs of Staff. His answer: "We stay in Berlin. Period." That was when the phones started ringing and local police began banging on doors to deliver telegrams to the vets.

Drawing on service records and hundreds of interviews in the United States, Germany, and Great Britain, Reeves tells the stories of these civilian airmen, the successors to Stephen Ambrose’s "Citizen Soldiers," ordinary Americans again called to extraordinary tasks. They did the impossible, living in barns and muddy tents, flying over Soviet-occupied territory day and night, trying to stay awake, making it up as they went along and ignoring Russian fighters and occasional anti-aircraft fire trying to drive them to hostile ground.

The Berlin Airlift changed the world. It ended when Stalin backed down and lifted the blockade, but only after the bravery and sense of duty of those young heroes had bought the Allies enough time to create a new West Germany and sign the mutual defense agreement that created NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

And then they went home again. Some of them forgot where they had parked their cars after they got the call.

About Richard Reeves

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Richard Reeves is the author of presidential bestsellers, including President Nixon and President Kennedy, acclaimed as the best nonfiction book of the year by Time magazine. A syndicated columnist and winner of the American Political Science Association's Carey McWilliams Award, he lives in New York and Los Angeles.
Published March 30, 2010 by Simon & Schuster. 336 pages
Genres: History, Travel, War. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Despite the cold and fog of the brutal winter, occasional crashes, pilferage, Soviet anti-Western propaganda and general exhaustion, all of which Reeves ably depicts, the airlift was a huge success and a public-relations coup for President Truman.

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Publishers Weekly

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Re-evaluating what has been called the first battle of the cold war, noted presidential biographer and syndicated columnist Reeves (President Kennedy ) takes a closer look at the courageous young American and British pilots who, in order to bring food, fuel, and medicine to a Berlin blockaded by ...

Nov 16 2009 | Read Full Review of Daring Young Men: The Heroism...

The Wall Street Journal

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That move put the U.S. on the horns of a dilemma: risk war by ramming a convoy through to Berlin or make a humiliating retreat from the island city, leaving West Berliners to become part of the Soviet bloc.

Jan 08 2010 | Read Full Review of Daring Young Men: The Heroism...

The Washington Post

When Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin tried in 1948 to drive the Western powers out of Berlin by imposing a ground blockade to halt supplies going into the devastated German capital, military and diplomatic advisors urged President Harry Truman to retreat rather than risk another war.

Jan 24 2010 | Read Full Review of Daring Young Men: The Heroism...

Christian Science Monitor

Richard Reeves chronicles the courage and resolve that drove the Berlin Airlift.

Jan 25 2010 | Read Full Review of Daring Young Men: The Heroism...

Review (Barnes & Noble)

The Cold War's opening moves were simultaneous with the Allied checkmate of the Nazis in the Spring of 1945, with the Soviet army pushing westward into Berlin while the armies of the United States, Great Britain, and France raced eastward to occupy Nazi Germany.

Jan 06 2010 | Read Full Review of Daring Young Men: The Heroism...

Tampa Bay Times

Fading into history is one of the most audacious actions of the Cold War, the Berlin Airlift.

Jan 30 2010 | Read Full Review of Daring Young Men: The Heroism...


From June of 1948 through May of 1949, Allied planes and pilots managed to deliver enough food, coal and machinery to keep the entire city of West Berlin alive, while the Russians blocked all ground routes of entry into the city.

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Bookmarks Magazine

Presidential historian and journalist Richard Reeves has published more than 15 books, including biographies of Bill Clinton, JFK, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan.

Jan 24 2010 | Read Full Review of Daring Young Men: The Heroism...

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