years after the end of World War II, the American
occupation of Germany was failing. The Germans were
becoming less – not more – attracted to democracy.
Communism was on the march, overthrowing one government
after another. Faith in America was at a low ebb.
Then, on June 24, 1948, intent on furthering its
domination of Europe, the Soviet Union cut off all land
and sea access to West Berlin, prepared to starve one of
the largest cities in the world into submission unless
the Americans abandoned it. Soviet forces hugely
outnumbered the Allies’. The choices before the western
allies were seemingly to abandon the city to the
Russians, allow the Berliners to starve, or start World
Most of America’s 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 during
the war; 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 backwaters of
a global war – together these unlikely men improvised
and stumbled their way into a uniquely American
combination of military and moral force unprecedented in
its time. In the course of a single year, these men
undertook the most successful humanitarian action of all
time, won the hearts of America’s defeated enemies,
inspired people around the world to believe in America’s
fundamental goodness, avoided World War III, and won the
greatest battle of the Cold War without firing a shot.
THE CANDY BOMBERS is their story.