Bombing Hitler's Hometown: The Untold Story of the Last Mass Bomber Raid of World War II in Europe (Hardcover)

Bombing Hitler's Hometown: The Untold Story of the Last Mass Bomber Raid of World War II in Europe By Mike Croissant Cover Image

Bombing Hitler's Hometown: The Untold Story of the Last Mass Bomber Raid of World War II in Europe (Hardcover)

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One of WWII’s final untold stories, this visceral account of the white-knuckled bombing mission American airmen carried out on Hitler’s hometown of Linz, Austria is now told for the first time through the eyes of the men on the airplanes as well as the innocent Austrians under the bombs.

Fans of Masters of the Air and Unbroken will be riveted by this groundbreaking true story of the aerial bombing and its aftermath from retired CIA officer Mike Croissant.

Foreword by Richard Overy, author of The Bombers and the Bombed


In April 1945, Linz was one of Nazi Germany’s most vital assets. It was a crucial transportation hub and communications center, with railyards brimming with war materiel destined for the front lines. Linz was also the town Hitler claimed as home and had long intended to remake as the cultural capital of Europe, filling its planned Führermuseum with world-famous art stolen from his conquered territories.

Inevitably, Linz was also one of the most heavily defended targets remaining in Europe. The airmen of the Fifteenth Air Force were a mix of seasoned veterans and newcomers. As their mission was unveiled in the predawn hours of April 25, audible groans and muffled expletives passed many lips. The reality of that mission would prove more brutal than any imagined.

In the unheated, unpressurized B‑24 Liberator and B‑17 Flying Fortress heavy bombers, young men battled elements as dangerous as anything the Germans could throw at them. When batteries of German anti‑aircraft guns opened fire, the men flew into a man‑made hell of exploding shrapnel. Aircraft and men fell from the sky as Austrian civilians on the ground also struggled to survive beneath the bombs during the deadly climax of Hitler’s war.

Drawing on interviews with dozens of America’s last surviving World War II veterans, as well as previously unpublished sources, Mike Croissant compellingly relates one of the war’s last truly untold stories—a gripping chronicle of warfare, the death of Nazi Germany, and the beginning of the Cold War. It is also a timeless tale of courage and terror, loss and redemption, humanity and savagery.
Mike Croissant is an intelligence and foreign affairs expert, author, and retired CIA officer. His career in the CIA spanned more than two decades as an analyst and counterterrorism targeting officer in locations ranging from Washington, DC, to the Middle East and Central and South Asia. He holds degrees in political science and history from the University of Illinois (B.A.), Central Eurasian Studies from Indiana University (M.A.), and Defense & Strategic Studies from Missouri State University (M.S.).  He lives with his family near Houston, TX and can be found online at MikeCroissant.com.
Product Details ISBN: 9780806543024
ISBN-10: 0806543027
Publisher: Citadel
Publication Date: March 26th, 2024
Pages: 352
Language: English
PRAISE FROM THE EXPERTS

“An exceptionally fine book examining the bloody mission against the Austrian city of Linz in the waning days of the European war. Combining dogged archival research with survivor interviews, Croissant offers a kaleidoscope of perspectives, not to mention hair-raising scenes of aerial combat, exploding bombers, and sheer terror at the edge of the earth’s atmosphere." —James M. Scott, Pulitzer Prize finalist and author of Black Snow and Rampage

“With Bombing Hitler’s Hometown, Mike Croissant has raised the bar for military aviation history. His truly gripping narrative adds a dimension not seen in many popular history books. After an enthralling depiction of the battle itself, Croissant dives into the emotional struggles of these veterans as they navigated postwar life. The men featured in this book are a true testament to the Greatest Generation.” Mike Guardia, author of The Combat Diaries and Tomcat Fury

“An extraordinary story of the incredible bomber crews who flew the last mass aerial raid in the European theater of WWII – and a page-turning thriller, as well!”  —General David Petraeus, US Army (Ret.)

“With vivid details and stories that showcase the very human reactions of young men thrust into the jaws of combat, Mike Croissant brings a well-researched story that is immensely readable.” —Gregory A. Freeman, author of The Forgotten 500 and The Last Mission of the Wham Bam Boys

“Mike Croissant combines you-are-there immediacy of a Fifteenth Air Force bomber crew with an overview of Hitler’s connection to Linz, Austria, in a way that is educational and entertaining.” —Barrett Tillman, author of Forgotten Fifteenth: The Daring Airmen Who Crippled Hitler’s War Machine

“A remarkable story that needed to be told – action packed military history at its very best.” —Anthony Tucker-Jones, author of Hitler’s Winter: The German Battle of the Bulge

“The most impressive collection of first-person accounts that I have ever seen. . . The air battle and the fates of the men who had to abandon crippled bombers make for a gripping ‘I-was-there’ story.” —Harry Yeide, author of The Longest Battle and Fighting Patton

“Croissant puts us in the cockpit of the bomber, rides us down with the bombs, and makes us feel the impact of the explosions as they destroy the target. One cannot read this book without experiencing the full range of emotions.” —Vincent Speranza, author of Nuts! A 101st Airborne Division Machine Gunner at Bastogne

“Tapping an extensive array of never-before-used primary sources, Croissant delivers a tribute worthy of the valiant heroes who made such an extraordinary contribution to the US and Allied war effort against Nazi Germany.” —Daniel Hoffman, former CIA Station Chief and cable news commentator

"Recounted with verve, Bombing Hitler’s Hometown is an exhaustive examination of this little-known, late-war raid. Balanced, rigorously detailed, and thoughtful, this book is essential reading for anyone interested in the American air war over Europe.” —Randall Hansen, author of Fire and Fury: The Allied Bombing of Germany and Japan

"Bombing Hitler’s Hometown puts you in the air, on the ground, and in the hearts and minds of those surviving against all odds, and snaps to life a never-before-told story. Croissant’s thorough research and his very sharp eye for detail brings this story home in a way that’s intensely personal yet universal. You know these people. This dramatic and magnificently written book belongs in every library.” Doug Stanton, #1 New York Times bestselling author of In Harm’s Way and Horse Soldiers

“An outstanding read that should not be overlooked.  …. In Bombing Hitler’s Hometown, the author does a superlative job of conveying the entire experience of an airman of the United States Army Air Forces during World War II—from initial training and selection for duty in bomber aircraft of the day, to assignment in the Fifteenth Air Force as combat-ready crews. Refreshingly, the author does not concentrate only on the pilots who flew these great aircraft; he also delves into the other crew positions, including the gunners, bombardier/toggliers, radio operators, navigators and flight engineers. He covers (in detail) the B‑24 aircraft, as well as the Fifteenth Air Force in the Mediterranean theater, neither of which have garnered the attention that the B‑17 and her crews from the Eighth Army Air Force in England have enjoyed throughout the years. But the author does not stop there; he gives an in-depth review of Linz and the plans that Hitler had for his city. He also cites, in detail, the plight of the people who lived and worked in Linz and what it was like for them to be victims of the Allied bombing campaign. The reader is right there beside the ball-turret gunner who is desperately trying to escape from his stricken bomber and survive the descent, by parachute, back to earth—only then, minutes later, to find himself dodging pitchfork thrusts by angry Austrian townspeople. I suggest you cinch your harness tight and know where your parachute is—you are sure to need it!” —The Cipher Brief