Synopses & Reviews
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 In the tradition of the best narrative storytellers, he brings together newly unclassified documents, unpublished letters and diaries, and fresh primary interviews to tell the story of the ill-assorted group of castoffs and second-stringers who not only saved millions of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 Americas 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 Americas 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 wartogether 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 powera masterful and exciting work of historical narrative, and one with strong resonance for our time.
"In 1948, West Berliners were suffering and hungry, existing on food rations transported by trucks, trains and barges primarily by the occupying American forces. The Russians, trying to control the divided city, blockaded the transports on June 24, 1948, and American and British pilots risked their lives to airlift in 4.6 billion pounds of food and supplies until the blockade was lifted in May 1949. Pilot Hal Halvorsen won Berliners' hearts by secretly dropping his and his buddies' candy rations by parachute into the waiting hands of the city's children. In the process, says Cherny (The Next Deal), Berliners became devoted to democracy, and Washington foreign policy and military brass learned that the Cold War needed to be won not primarily with bullets but by appealing to hearts and minds. This book could have been cut by a third for better effect; Cherny's prose and his references to 9/11 are manipulative, and his subject, particularly the nuts and bolts of the airlift, will appeal primarily to WWII buffs, who should still find much to savor in this exhaustive, often absorbing and lucid account of America's successful standoff against the Soviets. 16 pages of b&w photos. (Apr. 17)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
What an exciting, inspiring, and wonderfully-written book this is! The dramatic tale of Americas response to the Berlin blockade involves a colorful cast of characters, great and flawed, who defined the way a great nation could act as a benevolent world power. Each page has lessons for today, and it is also a thrilling narrative to read. Cherny has produced a book that lives up to this glorious American moment in history.
-Walter Isaacson, Author of Benjamin Franklin: Am American Life and Einstein: His Life and Universe
Andrei Chernys The Candy Bombers is a gripping, suspenseful narrative history about the U.S. Cold War era pilots determined to help the freedom-strangled citizens of West Berlin survive Soviet tyranny. Written with incredible verve and vivid detail, Cherny succeeds in making those harrowing days of Berlin circa 1948-49 come alive. As a historian, he reminds me of Stephen Ambrose at his best.
-Douglas Brinkley Professor of History; Fellow, Baker Institute, Rice University; Author, The Great Deluge and Tour of DutyEditor, The Reagan Diaries
The early Cold War era was as tense as the days after 9/11. Andrei Cherny captures, in vivid detail, the excitement and drama of the U.S. response to the Soviet blockade of Berlin. You will have a hard time not cheering or feeling moved when America rescues its former enemy in the name of freedom. -Evan Thomas, Author, Sea of Thunder
"A successful work of popular history...an enjoyable, timely narrative."
-Dallas Morning News
"Andrei Cherny tells this story vividly, placing it on the broader canvas of the incipient Cold War."
-Michael Barone, U.S. News and World Report
"A gripping, suspenseful narrative history... Reminds me of Stephen Ambrose at his best."
"A fine eye for character and detail."
"An exciting, inspiring, and wonderfully written book."
-Walter Isaacson, author of Benjamin Franklin: An American Life
Cherny presents a 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.
The Candy Bombers
is the true tale of the ill- assorted group of castoffs and second-stringers who saved millions of desperate people from a dire threat. By feeding and supplying West Berlin by air for nearly a year, these brave men won the hearts of America's defeated enemies, and inspired people around the world to believe in America's fundamental goodness. Their valor and kind acts helped the country avoid World War III, and won the greatest battle of the Cold War-without firing a shot.
About the Author
Andrei Cherny is editor of the idea journal Democracy. A former White House speechwriter and Senior Fellow at Harvards Kennedy School Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, he is the author of The Next Deal, and has written on history, politics, and culture for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. Cherny is an officer in the Navy Reserve.