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When Heroes Flew
- Narrated by: Steve Rausch
- Length: 7 hrs and 49 mins
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An award-winning novel of extraordinary bravery, inspired by the true story of one of the most harrowing air raids ever flown. Fans of Beneath A Scarlet Sky, The Nightingale, and Unbroken will enjoy this unforgettable tale of duty, honor, and compassion.
"A bravura performance..." (Dwight Jon Zimmerman, New York Times best-selling author)
For B-24 bomber pilot Al Lycoming, the mission was history in the making. For Women’s Airforce Service Pilot Vivian Wright, it was a chance to put her skills to the ultimate test...and share in the burden of combat.
Dispatched to Benghazi on mysterious orders, Al Lycoming finds nearly 200 other B-24 bombers being assembled...and a top secret assignment that will catapult them all into seemingly impenetrable Nazi defenses.
Their mission: a daring low-level attack on Hitler’s extensive oil refineries.
But when his co-pilot falls ill at the last moment, Al secretly finds help from an unlikely source — Vivian.
Together, the two fly towards dark skies filled with enemy flak and fighters...and into the pages of history.
With perspectives from American and German pilots alike, When Heroes Flew masterfully weaves together one of the most dangerous and incredible aerial operations of World War Two with a riveting tale of bravery, suspense, and self-sacrifice.
Praise for H.W. “Buzz” Bernard’s When Heroes Flew:
"Highly recommended." (P.T. Deutermann, author of Pacific Glory)
“World War II angst and action brought to life." (Commander George Wallace, USN (Ret.), author of the Hunter Killer series)
“This book gripped me from the very first page...In real life, this WW2 mission resulted in the award of Five Medals of Honor. In my view, they all deserved one. Highly recommended.” (Rachel Wesson, author of The Orphan Train series)
"...feel the vibration, smell the exhaust, and sense the fear." (Tom Young, author of Silver Wings, Iron Cross)
"...chuckle and weep in tandem while forgetting everything around you but the story itself." (Kathleen M. Rodgers, author of The Flying Cutterbucks)
"[The pilot's]...amazing courage, and that of the entire group, is subtly drawn." (John J. Gobbell, author of the Todd Ingram series)
“Strap in! It’s one hell of a ride!” (Don Keith, author of Final Bearing)
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This is a well written novel filled with history and military honor. Even though it is a work of fiction, the feel of truth resonates within its historical foundation. The narrator did a fabulous job drawing out the characters.
1 person found this helpful
- Mary Shafer
Had to ration my reading!
I listened to this audiobook while performing chores during a summer job. It made the work go fast, because I hardly noticed what I was actually doing, since I was so absorbed in the story. The characters are so well-drawn and believable, that it wasn’t until the author’s note at the end that I understood they weren’t actual historical figures. For anyone who writes, you’ll understand what a compliment that is. Even after I would finish my day’s tasks, I wanted to keep listening because I was so engrossed in this story, but knowing I still had days’ worth of work ahead, didn’t want to finish it too quickly! I’m a WWII buff, and I knew somewhat of the Ploesti Raid, but this story really brought it to life and gave me context for its critical importance to the War. I read a LOT on this subject, and can wholeheartedly recommend this book as an incredible tale, masterfully told. Bravo, Mr. Bernard!
- B Taub
Parts were great and parts were kinda stupid
OK, I know a lot of effort went into this book and the author details his sources at the end but I was really torn by this one. Parts of it are really compelling and I couldn't stop listening. Other parts, frankly, were so far fetched as to be historically inaccurate and distracting to anyone with some grasp of the history. Because of this, I really disliked the parts of the book leading up to the Ploesti raid. Then, suddenly, it became really interesting.
Things to like...
1) The book actually provides a pretty understandable description of the first Ploesti raid from which it's easy to see how things got so screwed up. I think the Ploesti part (the core) of this book would provide a great introduction to people who are interested in the raid but know nothing about it.
2) The 'relationship' between opposing pilots was actually pretty touching. I have to admit that I teared up a few times near the end.
Things to, perhaps, not like...
1) The narrator was good but his vocal range wasn't up to covering the range of characters with which he was tasked. In hindsight, he would have been better off reading the female characters with his normal voice. His attempt to sound female felt almost like caricature.
2) Elements of the plot were, frankly, ludicrous. I can't go into them without giving away the story but, you should be able to get it when you listen to it.
3) The author was quite heavy handed in providing historical context by putting words into characters' mouths. For example, when German fighter pilots describe how they feel about the Nazi regime. Sometimes ideas like this are better just described or inferred over the arc of the story, rather than being put into the mouths of characters.
While I love reading aviation history nonfiction, historical fiction, with its ability to describe emotions and feelings can fill a role that nonfiction sometimes can't. For example, a piece of excellent historical fiction about a WW2 bomber mission is BOMBER by Len Deighton. Part of what it does well is get more technical about the aircraft involved and this gives it a higher level of realism.
For what it's worth, I couldn't help but feel that WHEN HEROES FLEW has the bones of a a classic. I know that it's a rewrite of an earlier short story but, if the author were interested, I'd recommend that he read BOMBER, and a few similar books, and then give this one a third shot, removing some of the more outlandish plot points.