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[Read Kindle] î The Wrong Stuff: The Adventures and Misadventures of an 8th Air Force Aviator Î Between April and July , Truman Smith Flew thirty five bombing missions over France and Germany He was only twenty years old Although barely adults, Smith and his peers worried about cramming a lifetime s worth of experience into every free night, each knowing he probably would not survive the next bombing mission Written with blunt honesty, wry humor, and insight, The Wrong Stuff is Smith s gripping memoir of that time In a new preface, the author comments with equal honesty and humor on the impact this book has had on his life The Lost Boys: A Family Ripped Apart by War Truman Smith Flew thirty five bombing missions over France and Germany He was only twenty years old Although barely adults The Sizzling Spanish (Horrible History Magazines, Smith and his peers worried about cramming a lifetime s worth of experience into every free night Dog's Colorful Day: A Messy Story About Colors and Counting each knowing he probably would not survive the next bombing mission Written with blunt honesty Ya no quedan junglas adonde regresar wry humor Pure Genius : Dan Sullivan's Lifetime Focusing System for Total Self-mastery and insight 0range / Koji Morimoto / Scrapbook The Wrong Stuff is Smith s gripping memoir of that time In a new preface Play Dirty the author comments with equal honesty and humor on the impact this book has had on his life Good book,Hilarious at times and dead serious at others Really lets you see behind the polished appearance of the Mighty Eighth They were heroes but they were also Regular guys My motivations for reading memoirs are kind of shallow I m interested in military sci fi as a genre, and in being able to write it well So, you read the stories of real soldiers who faced real death and misery so that you can writeconvincing fantasies Maybe.First, I really am interested in the actual stories themselves It s why I also read non fiction like On Killing The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society There s this interesting paradox to being a devout Chris My motivations for reading memoirs are kind of shallow I m interested in military sci fi as a genre, and in being able to write it well So, you read the stories of real soldiers who faced real death and misery so that you can writeconvincing fantasies Maybe.First, I really am interested in the actual stories themselves It s why I also read non fiction like On Killing The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society There s this interesting paradox to being a devout Christian and probably a devout member of any religion I believe in fighting for what s right, and yet Christ s example at least of his life on Earth is one of total pacifism To what extent can war be noble This is a vital question, because the difference between outright warfare and other forms of violence and conflict, is all along a continuum And so you have to ask yourself what are the methods that are allowed and under what circumstances in fighting for what is right This is not an academic question It s not a practical question of violence It s a philosophical but still practical question what is the connection between means and ends That is actually the guiding question of quite a lot of military sci fi, even if it s not always tackled with a lot of clarity or insight, and is probably the reason that there is so much overlap between people who read and write military sci fi and people with real military experience On the one hand, there s no direct connection at all between space battles against aliens and a tour of duty in Afghanistan On the other hand, there may be only a tenuous connection between that same tour and the stories that we tell about it Stories are a way of making sense And the thing we wish to make sense of, or one of them, at any rate, is whether one can fight and still be right Truman Smith, a bomber pilot who flew daylight raids against Germany, is preoccupied with the question as well, and takes a very cynical perspective Early on, he writes that Any sane concept of right and wrong in warfare is flawed because war is insane, and the rules are quite different He then elaborates Good guys don t win wars Victory goes to the bad guys Even a domestic war against crime will never succeed unless criminals are made to sufferthan their victims The Japs, as they were called, who attacked Pearl Harbor and committed gross war crimes and the Nazis who kill their own citizens as well as the Soviets who killed even millionsof their own citizens were the bad guys in our own good guy viewpoint But as bad as they were, they were finally defeated by the good guys because we were better at being bad than they were No We re the only sons of bitches in the history of the world to have dropped atomic bombs on civilians And as bad as that was, we createddestruction and killed evenwomen, children, and elderly with the conventional bombing of Dresden, Hamburg, Berlin, and countless other targets When in doubt, aim for the church in the middle of town where most of them live Was it wrong or right Since we had convinced our enemies that we had the means and the will to be not only the bad guys but the worst in the history of the world, we avoided World War 3, so most would have to agree that doing the wrong stuff actually turned out to be right.At the end of the novel, he reiterates the theme Good guys don t win war because war is a business of badness There s a lot of ambiguity to go with these statements One thing that s very common among infantry is a hatred for the enemy This hatred is perhaps necessary to enable soldiers to overcome the natural reluctance to hurting other people and do their jobs Bombers never hurt anyone directly Their violence is done at a distance A different set of psychological factors are at play, which is why Smith immediately after the last quote could add, Be that as it may, I didn t hate anyone, not even my enemy Sure I hated going out to gamble my very life, but I sensed that my enemy felt the same way as I Now, I ve given you a very skewed impression of the book Smith s tone is actually quite light and the philosophy is kept to a minimum I ve quoted about all of it there is to quote because it sticks out to me Quite a lot of the book is spent on other matters, however, from the technical obstacles of keeping battered Flying Fortresses in the air to the misadventures of a 20 year old with no sexual experience trying to pick up ladies In one of my favorite scenes, his overconfidence leads him to pick up not one but two ladies and take them back to his hotel room He is so intimidated by them, however, that in a panic he basically sneaks out and abandons his own hotel room for the night after paying their bill It s lovably believable.So, as I said, the book is written in a tone best described as wry and it s even laugh out loud funny at parts And yet behind it all is the fact that it s written by a survivor of the 8th Air Force which had the highest casualty rate of all US forces who learned early on that it was best not to get to know anyone too well because strangers die easier and came home to a country that, while grateful, wasinterested in propping up romantic fantasies of World War 2 than listening to what the war was really like For most of the fact, Smith just tells it like it was, but at the outset he first lays the groundwork by calibrating the readers cynicism levels thusly Vietnam was fought nobly by American troops, but disgraced by presidents and congressmen with their wrong stuff Vietnam, hard to believe that it happened so long ago Korea, even longer And World War 2, now that was a glamorous and romantic war Well, that s what I ve been told by those who weren t there Back then, we did it right We did it right Well, we didn t have the disgrace of the MIAs because all of those missing in action, back then, were accounted for Well, let s try to set the record straight Over 20,000 American servicemen captured by the Germans and recaptured by the Soviets during World War 2 were and are still missing Not 2,000, but over 20,000 Americans captured in Europe have never been accounted for There was also a like number in the Pacific, where the Japanese preferred killing them rather than taking prisoners President former General Eisenhower was forced to abandon them and their plight when it became necessary to stop the communists in Korea Such a decision had to have broken his heart So, what was wrong and what was right So much for the romantic ideal of the Good War War, in Smith s view, is utterly terrible and always evil But also, it appears, sometimes necessary What sand what s most perverse is that sometimes the folks who are best at the worst not only win wars but may even prevent them He sardonically notes that in the inter war years, Having forgotten the primary purpose of a federal government is national defense, we proved that a small military force is an invitation for attack So here is someone who decries the bloodshed that was done to civilians during daylight bombing raids and also piloted those airplanes Who wrote the entire book in the hopes that, to some small extent, he could make the next war less likely and yet who also understands that a small military force is an invitation for attack These are the contradictions of warfare and, perhaps, of all conflict of any kind It is evil It is necessary The trick is how to be good enough at it to preserve something beautiful without becoming a part of the evil yourself, I suppose Which is a question that applies to every human life, albeit through metaphor, and not just to literal warfare and combat.Which is part of the reason I read military sci fi And also military memoirs.And this was a good example of the latter Well worth reading, for the humor, the idealism, and the cynicism that all came bundled together in one human s view A pretty interesting memoir of an Oklahoman flying B 17 bombers in WWII out of England He provides a pretty unvarnished account of the things that went on Not only of the combat with it s fear and death, but also of the recreational time with some less than virtuous behavior from his fellow Americans and himself His style is easily approachable and he includes some humorous anecdotes along with the serious business they were engaged in People who look back at being involved in this conflict A pretty interesting memoir of an Oklahoman flying B 17 bombers in WWII out of England He provides a pretty unvarnished account of the things that went on Not only of the combat with it s fear and death, but also of the recreational time with some less than virtuous behavior from his fellow Americans and himself His style is easily approachable and he includes some humorous anecdotes along with the serious business they were engaged in People who look back at being involved in this conflict frequently frame it philosophically in the way they remember it Usually a simple we were the good guys and the Germans Japanese were the bad guys and this was a war that had to be fought Here, the author explains that he thought what he had to do was terrible but that we could only beat the bad guys by being badder than they were He did not justify the allied bombing campaign other than that the ends justified the means though the means were not honorable He points back to the American civil war as the point when western civilization began to engage in total war and the American bombing campaign was just natural evolution from that point That probably to simple of a view and doesn t take the work of air theorists who wrote about proper use of Air power during and after WWI which included destruction of economic targets of enemy nations as part of future wars However, there really didn t seem to be much of a robust professional philosophical development of pilots Probably because they appropriately busy with the nitty gritty details of actual mission execution with very high casualty rates.I don t know what the definitive memoirs are for the bombing part of the European WWII Air War This would be one of the contenders for the top 5 or 10 IMHO Written in good humor The Wrong Stuff sets out to demystify WWII glory.Written decades after the fact this is not your most accurate of histories, but with it s humor it lours you in and makes it fun to read about the ravages of the air war over Europe In between the light hearted self criticism, the reader learns that WWII despite all the hype wasn t a golden age when we did things right.The book could have done with some better editing as there are some heavy repetitions of the same maxims ov Written in good humor The Wrong Stuff sets out to demystify WWII glory.Written decades after the fact this is not your most accurate of histories, but with it s humor it lours you in and makes it fun to read about the ravages of the air war over Europe In between the light hearted self criticism, the reader learns that WWII despite all the hype wasn t a golden age when we did things right.The book could have done with some better editing as there are some heavy repetitions of the same maxims over and over again