Three 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 War III.

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.






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