The Millionaires' Unit

  • by Marc Wortman
  • Narrated by Patrick Lawlor
  • 13 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The Millionaires' Unit: The Aristocratic Flyboys Who Fought the Great War and Invented American Air Power is the story of a gilded generation of young men from the zenith of privilege: a Rockerfeller; the son of the head of the Union Pacific Railroad; several who counted friends and relatives among presidents and statesmen of the day. They had it all and, remarkably by modern standards, they were prepared to risk it all to fight a distant war in France. Driven by the belief that their membership in the American elite required certain sacrifice, schooled in heroism and the nature of leadership, they determined to be first into the conflict, leading the way ahead of America's declaration that it would join the war. At the heart of the group was the Yale flying club, six of whom are the heroes of this book. They would share rivalries over girlfriends, jealousies over membership in Skull and Bones, and fierce ambition to be the most daring young man over the battlefields of France, where the casualties among flyers were chillingly high.
One of the six would go on to become the principal architect of the American Air Force's first strategic bomber force. Others would bring home decorations and tales of high life experiences in Paris. Some would not return, having made the greatest sacrifice of all in perhaps the last noble war. For fans of Flyboys, The Greatest Generation, or Flags of Our Fathers, this patriotic, romantic, absorbing book is narrative military history of the best kind.

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What the Critics Say

"Wortman has researched thoroughly and written clearly, thereby enhancing our knowledge of aviation history, Yale, and World War I." (Booklist)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Hard story to get into.

I bought the book with the idea that I was going to hear the exploits of ww1 pilots. Well after 10 chapters I learned about the ways the families got rich. Then there was a little aviation mixed with Yale politics and Frat houses. Finally we get into a little more Aviation from the standpoint of the Yale Frat-boys trying to start the air arm of the US Navy. Really rather boring compared to the active units of American volunteers the French British and German accounts in other books. In the end I was far from inspired. Unless you are into he lives of the elite, and or and college politics, I'd pass on this one.
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- Craig Walker

Origins of American Airpower - a Yale Frat Club

This story is so amazing. I had no idea about this element of American history - how a group of privileged young boys found the bureaucracy of the American government not only to represent the US proudly in Europe during WWI, but also to lay the groundwork for the air power that would later prove so critical in WWII, the Korean War, Vietnam and repeatedly in the Middle East.
Hats off to those brave and stalwart teens, some of whom never came home, giving the ultimate sacrifice in a war that wasn't even theirs.
This story is bold, sad and moving. I loved it.
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- Charlotte A. Hu

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-01-2006
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio