Angels in the Sky
Angels in the Sky is the exhilarating account of a ragtag band of volunteer airmen from around the world who fought for Israel during the war of independence. They arrived from America, Canada, Britain, France, and South Africa. Almost all were World War II combat veterans. Many, but not all, were Jewish, and many knowingly violated their nations’ embargoes on the shipment of arms and aircraft to Israel. They smuggled in Messerschmitt fighters from Czechoslovakia, painting over swastikas with Israeli stars. They flew British-built Spitfires and American Mustangs, risking their lives for a righteous cause. Surrounded by Egyptian, Jordanian, Iraqi, Syrian, and Lebanese forces, Israel would have been crushed without the air support provided by the “angels in the sky.” Briskly written and based on first-person interviews and extensive archival research, here is a modern-day David-and-Goliath tale and popular history at its best.

Angels in the Sky Details

TitleAngels in the Sky
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseOct 3rd, 2017
PublisherW. W. Norton & Company
ISBN-139780393254778
Rating
GenreHistory, Nonfiction, Aviation, Military, Military History, Cultural, Israel

Angels in the Sky Review

  • Jonny Ruddock
    January 1, 1970
    The story of how a disparate bunch of foreign volunteers created an air force for the embattled and embargoed embryonic state of Israel should have been an epic page turner.Sadly I thought this book squandered virtually every chance it was handed, with even the desperate efforts of the volunteers to spirit aircraft out from under the noses of the British and American governments and their assorted law enforcement agencies robbed of any tension. Even the aerial combat sequences are robbed of any The story of how a disparate bunch of foreign volunteers created an air force for the embattled and embargoed embryonic state of Israel should have been an epic page turner.Sadly I thought this book squandered virtually every chance it was handed, with even the desperate efforts of the volunteers to spirit aircraft out from under the noses of the British and American governments and their assorted law enforcement agencies robbed of any tension. Even the aerial combat sequences are robbed of any excitement, reduced to constant reference to pilots watching "parts and debris streaming from the Spitfire/Macchi/Dakota". Even the eventual and tragic losses are robbed of any real emotion.Possibly some first person input would have helped, along with more and better detailed maps, but what's really lacking is any feeling of context. We're constantly told that Israel is battling fire its existence but apart from bit parts as targets the Arab armies don't feature - it's often hard to even figure out where they are. On the whole I can't help feeling a little short changed. I'd mark it down for two and a half stars, but it has a marvellous print on the interior title page (I'm a sucker for aviation art) so I'll grit my teeth and up it to a three. Get yourself some idea of the '48/'49 war before you start, it might help.
    more
  • Devyn
    January 1, 1970
    I received this book from Goodreads. Angels in the Sky is a brilliant book about the desperate battle for the independence of Israel and the brave men who flew dangerous, hodgepodge, outdated WW2 surplus airplanes against multiple enemies with superior forces. It sheds light on the amazing history of a struggling country that I was nearly completely ignorant of. It is a defiant eyeopener against the prevalent modern misconceptions of Israel and its history.This book is intelligent, informative, I received this book from Goodreads. Angels in the Sky is a brilliant book about the desperate battle for the independence of Israel and the brave men who flew dangerous, hodgepodge, outdated WW2 surplus airplanes against multiple enemies with superior forces. It sheds light on the amazing history of a struggling country that I was nearly completely ignorant of. It is a defiant eyeopener against the prevalent modern misconceptions of Israel and its history.This book is intelligent, informative, entertaining, intense, and full of heart. It's a unbeatable story of war and peace, laughter and tears, young men and old, and the irresistible appeal of flight and war.It holds no punches, makes no apologies, and is a damn good read.I loved this book. It made my heart hurt, yes, but I still loved it. There is simply nothing more exhilarating, awe-inspiring, and funner than reading about intense airborne dog fights in the legendary WW2 aircraft. This book featured both my top favorite aircraft from that era, the B-17 Super Fortress (Sky Tanks), and the P-51 Mustangs(Whistling Death). Plus a bunch of World War 2 Aces.Angels in the Sky really let me get to know the volunteers (and everyone else) that braved the damaged, ill-equipped airplanes and fought for Israel and its people. I got so attached that when someone died, from old age or tragically otherwise, I had to take a moment to morn before I could continue reading. It took me over a week to pick the book up again after Modi Alon's death.Robert Gandt has a real talent of making the reader miss people they have never met in addition to telling a truly grand piece of history.
    more
  • Lois R. Gross
    January 1, 1970
    Next year marks the 70th anniversary of the State of Israel. This is the story of how the small band of mostly Jewish people came to become a nation with the help of a motley crew of former World War II flying aces who needed a last hurrah and found it in the greatly outnumbered people who needed a refuge from the anti-Semitic Jews. drawing volunteers from the US, Canada, Britain, and South Africa among others, these pilots participated in an illegal (in the US) operation of smuggling both arms Next year marks the 70th anniversary of the State of Israel. This is the story of how the small band of mostly Jewish people came to become a nation with the help of a motley crew of former World War II flying aces who needed a last hurrah and found it in the greatly outnumbered people who needed a refuge from the anti-Semitic Jews. drawing volunteers from the US, Canada, Britain, and South Africa among others, these pilots participated in an illegal (in the US) operation of smuggling both arms and airplanes to the surrounded country in the midst of Arab enemies. Ironically, most of the planes the pilots flew were former Nazi planes manufactured and sold on the black market by the Czechs. Even more ironically, almost all of those planes blew up in combat, frequently taking the pilots with them. Yes, some of the pilots had a commitment to building a safe state for Jewish refugees having liberated the concentration camps of Europe. However, mostly these were hotshots who really needed the adrenaline rush of a good fight. In Israel, they got it. People with familiarity of Israeli history will note that many of the military leaders of the 1948 war went on the glorious careers as leaders of the newborn nation. This is an important history lesson and a tribute to honor among men and the derring do of both patriots and mercenaries with one great cause.
    more
  • Jim Cabaj
    January 1, 1970
    First, I want to say "Thank you to Good Reads" for advance copy of Angels in the Sky!2nd, I want to say "Wow", Robert Gandt, has collected so many first person stories of the airmen who composed the Israel Air Force. Each chapter has something intriguing that always keeps you at the edge of your seat till the end of the book.Robert Gandt knows how to capture these real men. He exposes how they became airmen and why they want to fight for Israel. Each of these airmen get into the cockpit and face First, I want to say "Thank you to Good Reads" for advance copy of Angels in the Sky!2nd, I want to say "Wow", Robert Gandt, has collected so many first person stories of the airmen who composed the Israel Air Force. Each chapter has something intriguing that always keeps you at the edge of your seat till the end of the book.Robert Gandt knows how to capture these real men. He exposes how they became airmen and why they want to fight for Israel. Each of these airmen get into the cockpit and face death even before the plane starts up. I enjoyed all the espionage that was involved to create the Israel Air Force. How they recruited former WWII pilots around the world. You meet the agents behind the scenes trying to buy surplus planes. One of my favorite books is "The Right Stuff" by Tom Wolfe, Angels in the Sky is just like that capturing the brotherhood that surrounds these pilots. Both books had me at the edge of my seat wanting more and I would get more. In both books you felt pain and loss. You felt fear being faced dead on. Angels in the Sky is at the top of my list of Best New Books of the year. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
    more
  • Margaret Heller
    January 1, 1970
    Read for Library Journal. Not for me, but some people will definitely enjoy this one, which is reflected in my review.
  • Randall Harrison
    January 1, 1970
    This book is a mostly-anectdotal telling of the history of the creation of the Israeli Air Force at independence. Gandt spins an interesting tale of the flyers, mostly WWII vets, who relished the thrill and excitement of war but couldn't find it in peacetime. Most of the flyers were Jewish who had religious, familial or cultural ties to Palestine, and independent Israel. Gandt provides some detail as to the various motivations of the airmen and what led them to the IAF. However, the focus isn't This book is a mostly-anectdotal telling of the history of the creation of the Israeli Air Force at independence. Gandt spins an interesting tale of the flyers, mostly WWII vets, who relished the thrill and excitement of war but couldn't find it in peacetime. Most of the flyers were Jewish who had religious, familial or cultural ties to Palestine, and independent Israel. Gandt provides some detail as to the various motivations of the airmen and what led them to the IAF. However, the focus isn't as much on the motivations as on the personalities of the men. Regardless of their motivations, they all migrated to Israel in 1947-1948 and volunteered to assist in the struggle for independence, the creation and survival of the Jewish state. Some of the flyers were non-Jews, adventure seekers like the rest without the ties of religion, culture and kinship. Regardless, the group bonded over their missions and helped save the new nation during the war immediately after independence.I enjoyed the epilogue which gave brief descriptions of what became of the main characters after the war. I recommend this book as an easy-to-read, well-told story of an key element in the birth and survival of the Israeli state. Overall, this was an informative, interesting and well-written story of the airmen and mechanics that created the new nation's air force from scratch and served it loyally and proudly during the early years of the new Israeli state.
    more
  • Vera
    January 1, 1970
    I found it fascinating. First of all, the story was completely new to me. We take too many things for granted. How the air force is actually created when the country is just born and there are no planes and there is international embargo against Israel, though Egypt is getting their fighter planes from UK and Italy, and US is maintaining "neutrality" because they need access to oil. To get past all the obstacles, it takes people who drive it, who push it, who fight for it, imaginative people and I found it fascinating. First of all, the story was completely new to me. We take too many things for granted. How the air force is actually created when the country is just born and there are no planes and there is international embargo against Israel, though Egypt is getting their fighter planes from UK and Italy, and US is maintaining "neutrality" because they need access to oil. To get past all the obstacles, it takes people who drive it, who push it, who fight for it, imaginative people and brave people. First and foremost the pilots themselves. Most of them were English speaking volunteers who fought in World War II. This book demystified this profession to me and filled me with awe on what they were able to handle under most harrowing circumstances. But I also learned more about famous people like Ezer Weizman and Itzhak Rabin, who in 1948 were still young people fighting for the Jewish homeland.
    more
  • Brenda Schneider
    January 1, 1970
    An amazing true story that reads like a thriller. Really enjoyed this book. I won this book through Goodreads.
  • Liz
    January 1, 1970
    I received this book from the first reads giveaway program in exchange for an honest review.4.5 starsI liked the book a lot. It gives an honest recounting of the vital part foreign aviators played in the Israeli victory in 1949. Most of them weren't there for moral reasons they were there because they were adrenaline junkies and that was the available war. I deducted half a star because there were parts that were a little bit narrative.
    more
  • Juliewheatcox.Net
    January 1, 1970
    This was a true & well researched account of how a rag-tag air force saved Israel.It was a little dry for me, but I enjoyed it anyway. I'm sure that guys would give it five stars.This is a story you won't ever forget.
  • Leo
    January 1, 1970
    Well written and greatly narrated book (except pronouncement of Hebrew words :)). New the history of Israel but now got the other perspective. In my view - time well spent reading this book.
  • Peter Goodman
    January 1, 1970
    “Angels in the Sky: how a band of volunteer airmen saved the new state of Israel,” by Robert Gandt (Norton, 2017). The postwar world of the late 1940s was full of lost boys---in this case, fliers who missed the challenge and thrill of aerial combat. The nascent state of Israel needed all the help it could get, and especially from the air. Israeli agents scoured the western world for airplanes---fighters, transports, bombers, anything they could put in the sky to keep the Arabs from destroying th “Angels in the Sky: how a band of volunteer airmen saved the new state of Israel,” by Robert Gandt (Norton, 2017). The postwar world of the late 1940s was full of lost boys---in this case, fliers who missed the challenge and thrill of aerial combat. The nascent state of Israel needed all the help it could get, and especially from the air. Israeli agents scoured the western world for airplanes---fighters, transports, bombers, anything they could put in the sky to keep the Arabs from destroying their cities, and in turn to strafe, bomb and demoralize the invading armies. Meanwhile, most of the world was against them. Although the US had voted for the creation of the state of Israel, it wasn’t going to do anything to help the Jews survive. Neither were the Brits, the Greeks, the Soviets. So Israeli agents bought, bribed, stole, conned, finagled to find anything flyable. No problem finding pilots: there were plenty of Jewish veterans with experience in Spitfires, P-51s, B-17s, the gamut---not to mention the volunteers who either for righteousness or a job signed up. Slowly, an Israeli air arm was created: Czech versions of the ME 109, lousy, cramped, unreliable; C-46s for heavy transport; a Constellation, eventually a few Spitfires, a couple of P-51s, even a trio of B-17s---all of which had to be smuggled out of wherever they were. Pilots and agents were arrested time and again, were bought out of prison. When the fighting started: in the very first battle there were just four Messerschmitts, and two of them were lost almost immediately. But the strafing and bombing they were able to do stopped a heavy Egyptian invasion force just a few miles south of Tel Aviv. Pilots crashed, or disappeared; they were never shot down, but the planes were in such bad shape it was a miracle they worked at all. The pilots were rowdy, hard drinkers, insubordinate, but determined. They overcame all the flaws of their airplanes and drubbed whoever went against them. In the largest battle of all, a group of Israeli and volunteer fliers shot down a lot of RAF Spitfires which shouldn’t have been flying in Israeli airspace to begin with.. Gandt is very good about the actual flying, the maneuvers, the problems of the planes: the MEs were using huge propellors meant for other airplanes, and they kept shooting themselves down by shooting the props to bits. A very quick, bright read.http://www.gandt.com/
    more
  • Anne Slater
    January 1, 1970
    This is definitely NOT my normal kind of reading, but it was recommended to me by someone in my American Short Story class after I mentioned a recent read covering the Holocaust and a child survivor's return to life in Israel...The airman whose amazing and dedicated exploits carried Israel through the opening days of its statehood were pilots and business men (and sometimes both) of all stripes who had made their names and reputations in World War II. American, British, Canadian, Israeli--they w This is definitely NOT my normal kind of reading, but it was recommended to me by someone in my American Short Story class after I mentioned a recent read covering the Holocaust and a child survivor's return to life in Israel...The airman whose amazing and dedicated exploits carried Israel through the opening days of its statehood were pilots and business men (and sometimes both) of all stripes who had made their names and reputations in World War II. American, British, Canadian, Israeli--they were fighting for the establishment of a homeland, even though some of them didn't remain in Israel, and some of them were not even Jewish. Just "doing the right thing." The telling is actually a day-by-day, battle (literal and political) by battle account, fortunately with maps in the book and a nice one that someone left in the book. The many pilots are brought to life, and their activities so carefully drawn that this non-military exploits reader was kept at it as the all-volunteer air force grew and as men were lost.The tactics and the politics of war, truce, and peace actually absorbed me, and I spent fro 11:30 to midnight reading the afterword which contained individual "here's how his life turned out" on each of the daring and devoted pilots. The depiction of their lives during these tense days was vivid and heart-wrenching.
    more
  • Aaron Kendal
    January 1, 1970
    An excellent gripping and engrossing read about the birth of the Israeli Air Force. Telling the true tale of how volunteer pilots, both Jewish and non-Jewish came to fight for the survival of the new nation in the War of Independence it tells of adventures and antics that must be read to be believed, including their miraculous first mission that stopped the Egyptian Army cold and saved the nation from being destroyed before it could even be born. The book recounts how all the necessary materials An excellent gripping and engrossing read about the birth of the Israeli Air Force. Telling the true tale of how volunteer pilots, both Jewish and non-Jewish came to fight for the survival of the new nation in the War of Independence it tells of adventures and antics that must be read to be believed, including their miraculous first mission that stopped the Egyptian Army cold and saved the nation from being destroyed before it could even be born. The book recounts how all the necessary materials for an air force - fighters, bombers, transports, and parts from around the world secretly were brought to Israel to defeat the one-sided arms embargo.The stories of air-to-air combat and bombing missions are very well told and the stories from the pilots who were there are expertly woven into the narrative. It is a can't-put-down riveting tale very well told indeed and well worth reading for any aviation or history enthusiast.
    more
  • Hasadda
    January 1, 1970
    This inspirational book documents the volunteers and renegade paid pilots who helped form the Israeli Air Force between 1048 and 1949. Most were Jewish and some were not, but they all believed in the cause, saving Israel from the grips of the Arabs. Not too many soldiers in this day and age would make the same sacrifices that they did, from stealing airplane parts to negotiating for old-style airplanes with falsified passports to flying for the thrills of destroying the enemies' weapons, they we This inspirational book documents the volunteers and renegade paid pilots who helped form the Israeli Air Force between 1048 and 1949. Most were Jewish and some were not, but they all believed in the cause, saving Israel from the grips of the Arabs. Not too many soldiers in this day and age would make the same sacrifices that they did, from stealing airplane parts to negotiating for old-style airplanes with falsified passports to flying for the thrills of destroying the enemies' weapons, they went the gamut to build the Jewish nation's first air defenses.It was them against the world who felt the tiny Jewish homeland did not deserve to exist. Many willingly lost their lives and Gandt humanizes their dedication with humor and camaraderie. If you like reading about the history of Israel and buying and building warplaines airplanes from another generation.
    more
  • Chris
    January 1, 1970
    What a fascinating story, I never really knew anything about the Israeli War of Independence let alone the foundation of the Israeli Air Force.I can't imagine the guts it must've taken to abandon everything back home to go fight in a war that could very well be lost. I suppose I can wrap my head around the Jews who came to fight for a homeland and I get the mercenaries but the people who came because it was just the right thing to do? Can't even imagine.Reading about the aerial battles was defin What a fascinating story, I never really knew anything about the Israeli War of Independence let alone the foundation of the Israeli Air Force.I can't imagine the guts it must've taken to abandon everything back home to go fight in a war that could very well be lost. I suppose I can wrap my head around the Jews who came to fight for a homeland and I get the mercenaries but the people who came because it was just the right thing to do? Can't even imagine.Reading about the aerial battles was definitely interesting and how they smuggled aircraft from Britain and the US to Israel was suspenseful. Though, now I'm really interested in a more high level view of the war, this book focuses on the air war and the Egyptian front but now I'm really wondering about the war on the ground and the fronts against the other 4 Arab states.
    more
  • R. Leib
    January 1, 1970
    This is a detailed history of how a small, disparate group of aviators gave everything they had to save from annihilation a country that for most was not even their own. It is told in engrossing vignettes that weave the incredible story of the birth of a nation and one of the most feared and respected air forces in the world. Easily readable, Mr. Gandt accomplishes a very rare feat, a cohesive history with a lot of moving parts that does not leave the reader lost in the minutia. Stupidity, brill This is a detailed history of how a small, disparate group of aviators gave everything they had to save from annihilation a country that for most was not even their own. It is told in engrossing vignettes that weave the incredible story of the birth of a nation and one of the most feared and respected air forces in the world. Easily readable, Mr. Gandt accomplishes a very rare feat, a cohesive history with a lot of moving parts that does not leave the reader lost in the minutia. Stupidity, brilliance, triumph, and tragedy all receive the same clinically precise treatment. In the end, "Angels of the Sky" engenders the feeling for the reader of personally witnessing it all.
    more
  • William
    January 1, 1970
    Angels in the Sky: How a Band of Volunteer Airmen Saved the New State of Israel is a great book I would recommend. If you love history, love Israel and marvel at the miracle of the Jewish nation’s rebirth and successful fight for survival, this book is for you. It is an especially appropriate read as we near the 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence. Check out the rest of my review: http://beacon2light.blogspot.com/2018...
    more
  • Uncle Dave Avis
    January 1, 1970
    What a fascinating book on Israel's independence air force. I really enjoyed reading this fine book. I am amazed that the United States and Brittan actively opposed the fight for a Jewish Nation. I was intrigued about the devious ways the Israelis got their fighters and bombers. It was quite a thrilling story. I highly recommend this book.
    more
  • Becky Gouvier
    January 1, 1970
    A peek at part of the process of Israel's restoration to the land. Readable for even non-military types. If you like to cheer for underdogs, this account of puny, newborn Israel against 5 established Arab nations will have you applauding. ...the days are coming, declares the Lord, when ... I will restore them to the land I gave their forefathers. -Jeremiah 16:14-15
    more
  • Lisa A. Manley
    January 1, 1970
    Use of God’s name in vainMy rating reflects my dislike for the use of God’s name in vain. There are several instances of God’s name with a curse word. I did enjoy learning about what happened during this time of Israel’s history however I did not finish the book because of the language.
    more
  • Carol Dimitriou
    January 1, 1970
    The exciting and inspiring story of Israel's 1948 War of Independence. With a small fleet of cobbled together planes, and a group of Jewish and non-Jewish volunteer flyers from all over the world, they prevailed against overwhelming odds to win.
  • Gary Detrick
    January 1, 1970
    Well written, enjoyable, easily read and interesting story of a relatively unknown event, to me, regarding the state of Israel. A very diverse group of airmen fighting for a just cause, overcoming the endless politics of war. Some things never end!
  • Steve
    January 1, 1970
    This book does not disappoint -- it does indeed read like a work of suspense. Gandt has done an excellent job of telling the story of, well, how a band of volunteer airmen saved the new state of Israel! This is aerial combat writing at its best.
  • Becky
    January 1, 1970
    Prophecy playing out at the personal level. Genesis 17:8.
  • Darlis
    January 1, 1970
    Very interesting stories. Lots of obstacles to overcome.
  • Alex Luce
    January 1, 1970
    Excellent read. Filled with action. I had no idea "Slick," the test pilot who flew the X-1 who almost broke the sound barrier, went off to become an Israeli Volunteer Pilot.
  • Anandasubramanian
    January 1, 1970
    Struggle of Israel at its birth.
Write a review