Into the Fire: Ploesti, The Most Fateful Mission of World War II

Duane Schultz, Author . Westholme $26 (320p) ISBN 978-1-59416-051-6

Schultz (The Most Glorious Fourth ) combines a historian's meticulous research and a novelist's hypnotic prose to produce this memorable popular history of the World War II aerial attack on Hitler's oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania. British PM Winston Churchill called Ploesti “the taproot of German might,” and at the Casablanca Conference in January 1943, he—along with U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt—approved a massive aerial attack against the facilities. The attack was optimistically projected to “shorten the war against Germany by at least six months,” but in reality planners relied on “misleading” and “inadequate” intelligence and unconventional—and untested—low-level bombing. Col. John “Killer” Kane, commander of one of the bombardment groups tasked with the raid, deemed the operation “idiotic.” Nevertheless, on August 1, 1943, an armada of 177 B-24 Liberators took off from Benghazi, Libya, for Ploesti, where they encountered “one of the most heavily defended targets in the world.” One-third of the bombers and their crews were lost. Despite the heroism of the air crews—five Medals of Honor were awarded for the mission—the raid was a “monumental foul-up.” Three refineries escaped any damage, and most of those that were hit were quickly repaired. Schultz's intimate account of this controversial episode is a timely reminder of the horrors of war and a moving tribute to Ploesti's heroes. 24 illus. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 08/27/2007
Release date: 00/00/0000
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-1-59416-077-6
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