'Many books claim to tell an "unknown" story of the Second World War. Few of them actually do. Forgotten Bastards is a rare exception . . . This is gripping history' Duncan Weldon, Prospect
A riveting story of World War II from the author of Chernobyl, winner of the Baillie Gifford Prize for non-fiction
In November 1943, with the outcome of the Second World War hanging in the balance, the Allies needed a new plan. The Americans' audacious suggestion to the Soviets was to open a second air front, with the US Air Force establishing bases in Soviet-controlled territory. Despite Stalin's obvious reservations about the presence of foreign troops in Russia, he was persuaded. Operation Baseball and then Frantic were initiated in early 1944 as B-17 Superfortresses were flown from bases in Italy to the Poltova region in today's Ukraine.
Award-winning historian Serhii Plokhy tells the gripping, little-known story of this encounter between American and Soviet soldiers and how their collaboration quickly fell apart, mirroring the transition from the Grand Alliance to the Cold War. Soviet secret policemen watched over the Americans, shadowing their every move. A catastrophic air raid by the Germans revealed the limitations of Soviet air defences. As their initial enthusiasm turned into disappointment, the American soldiers started calling themselves the Forgotten Bastards of Ukraine. Ultimately, no common purpose could overcome their cultural and political differences.
Drawing on newly opened Russian archives as well as CIA records, Forgotten Bastards of the Eastern Front offers a riveting bottom-up history of one of the Second World War's most unlikely alliances.
Plokhy is an expert guide, marshalling the archival and memoir material skilfully and telling his story with flair
Many books claim to tell an "unknown" story of the Second World War. Few of them actually do. Forgotten Bastards of the Eastern Front is a rare exception. . . Plokhy is at his best when he turns to the human level, the culture clash experienced by US servicemen finding themselves inside Stalin's USSR under constant surveillance from the secret police
Five stars. . . brilliantly researched