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Baa Baa Black Sheep: The True Story of the "Bad Boy" Hero of the Pacific Theatre and His Famous Black Sheep Squadron

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The true story of the "bad boy" of the Pacific theatre and his famous Black Sheep squadron. The American World War II fighter pilot tells of his daring combat missions, his experiences in Japanese prison camps, and his ten-year struggle against alcoholism. The true story of the "bad boy" of the Pacific theatre and his famous Black Sheep squadron. The American World War II fighter pilot tells of his daring combat missions, his experiences in Japanese prison camps, and his ten-year struggle against alcoholism.


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The true story of the "bad boy" of the Pacific theatre and his famous Black Sheep squadron. The American World War II fighter pilot tells of his daring combat missions, his experiences in Japanese prison camps, and his ten-year struggle against alcoholism. The true story of the "bad boy" of the Pacific theatre and his famous Black Sheep squadron. The American World War II fighter pilot tells of his daring combat missions, his experiences in Japanese prison camps, and his ten-year struggle against alcoholism.

30 review for Baa Baa Black Sheep: The True Story of the "Bad Boy" Hero of the Pacific Theatre and His Famous Black Sheep Squadron

  1. 5 out of 5

    bup

    I've been told the TV show Baa, Baa Black Sheep was not very good. I don't know. When it was on, I was too busy enjoying it to notice. I think that may be the case here - one thing I can say for sure is that the book was not ghost written. God bless him, but the man was not a gifted writer. He was a gifted flyer and fighter. The book is probably not "good," but I enjoyed it too much to notice. And if you want to round out your vision of the myth with some facts, this book will help you. Flyers wer I've been told the TV show Baa, Baa Black Sheep was not very good. I don't know. When it was on, I was too busy enjoying it to notice. I think that may be the case here - one thing I can say for sure is that the book was not ghost written. God bless him, but the man was not a gifted writer. He was a gifted flyer and fighter. The book is probably not "good," but I enjoyed it too much to notice. And if you want to round out your vision of the myth with some facts, this book will help you. Flyers were in combat zones for short periods - 6 or 12 weeks or something. He did most of his flying in one half (the second half) of 1943, was shot down in the first days of 1944, and spent the rest of the war in a secret Japanese prison camp where they kept 'special prisoners' that they didn't tell the Red Cross about. Boyington was missing in action, presumed killed, until two weeks after the war ended. He also struggled with booze, and it's clear Alcoholics Anonymous philosophies directed his approach to life at the time he wrote the book. If you love Corsairs, and enjoyed the TV show, and thought it was so cool that the show had actual combat from the wing cameras, this book is pretty much a must-read. If you have an autographed picture of "Pappy" with his squadron because your uncle was in the Marines and served in the Pacific in WW II and knew him, then you already enjoyed this book. I have to bug my wife to let me hang up that picture.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Eric Birk

    This book didn’t grab me because of the writing ability of Gregory Boyington, but I was hooked from page one. There is no phony about this man and it is no wonder that he was a born leader. He pulls no punches and tells everything the way that he sees it. His personal accounts of the war and his opinions of the people he encountered there were mesmerizing. I read it as a boy in 1977 and he was instantly one of my heroes. His front page quote has stuck with me to this day, “Just name any hero… an This book didn’t grab me because of the writing ability of Gregory Boyington, but I was hooked from page one. There is no phony about this man and it is no wonder that he was a born leader. He pulls no punches and tells everything the way that he sees it. His personal accounts of the war and his opinions of the people he encountered there were mesmerizing. I read it as a boy in 1977 and he was instantly one of my heroes. His front page quote has stuck with me to this day, “Just name any hero… and I’ll prove he’s a bum.” Boyington saw the world differently than anyone around him and even though he was in the military, he pulled no punches about doing things ‘his’ way and the world be damned. His accounts about fighting his own demons, such as alcohol, were unbelievably honest and stark. Even though he was obviously a drunken braggart at times, I have no doubt that there is some truth in every single story he told and that to his death he would have fought anyone to defend the honor of his words. I’d recommend this book to anyone with interest in WWII or as an autobiography or a real man and a real American hero.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Reece

    A fantastic tale from real person about war in the pacific--without the whitewash. Some embellishments maybe, who knows? I wasn't there but this book made me feel that i was. This book cannot be rated like other books, simply as a "good read" or whatever. More than that, this is one man's insight, raw and unedited, into the life of a true modern day hero. This book proves, like Pappy says and so admits about himself that all heroes are bums in some respect at least. Pappy was an alcoholic, who c A fantastic tale from real person about war in the pacific--without the whitewash. Some embellishments maybe, who knows? I wasn't there but this book made me feel that i was. This book cannot be rated like other books, simply as a "good read" or whatever. More than that, this is one man's insight, raw and unedited, into the life of a true modern day hero. This book proves, like Pappy says and so admits about himself that all heroes are bums in some respect at least. Pappy was an alcoholic, who cares? Pappy lived most of his life in squalor thanks to the military, made almost no money for his selfless (or some might say selfish) work. In spite of his personal failures and in the nadir of mental anguish, he reached a zenith as a combat pilot and leader of men. Except for being shot down once, he was a preternatural pilot and feared by his opponents. When most people would have given up after so many set backs (physical, mental, spiritual, and political) and denials from his superiors, political intrigue, etc., he manged to find a way to rise to the top, cut the red tape and in a material way help win a war. He pretends to nothing. You can't questions his belief in what he was doing you can't help but respect him as an American.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    My whole prior knowledge of "Pappy" Boyington was derived from the old TV show so I wanted to get the full story by reading the book that the show was based on. It was an ok read even though he is tough to follow at times since his narrative is much like a stream of semi-random thoughts and stories, especially early on. I learned a few things - he was a five-time combat ace, he was a hidden POW (what the Japanese termed a "captive" and therefore not subject to Geneva Convention rules concerning My whole prior knowledge of "Pappy" Boyington was derived from the old TV show so I wanted to get the full story by reading the book that the show was based on. It was an ok read even though he is tough to follow at times since his narrative is much like a stream of semi-random thoughts and stories, especially early on. I learned a few things - he was a five-time combat ace, he was a hidden POW (what the Japanese termed a "captive" and therefore not subject to Geneva Convention rules concerning treatment) for two years, and he was an alcoholic. The books gets more interesting after he is shot down until he returns home. The later part of a the book focuses on the alcoholism and his life after the war. As militry biographies go, all in all, the most value comes from the discussion of his life as a prisoner and how our guys were treated by the Japanese.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jenny T

    I'm not normally a major reader of war memoirs, but Greg "Pappy" Boyington's story of his experiences as a fighter pilot during WWII (including commanding the famous Black Sheep Squadron) and his time spent in a Japanese POW camp was a fascinating read. Blunt, honest, and witty, with self-deprecating humor and understated heroics aplenty, this autobio left me with stars in my eyes, muttering "What a guy" in amazement at both his nerve (the man was a self-confessed troublemaker) and his bravery. I'm not normally a major reader of war memoirs, but Greg "Pappy" Boyington's story of his experiences as a fighter pilot during WWII (including commanding the famous Black Sheep Squadron) and his time spent in a Japanese POW camp was a fascinating read. Blunt, honest, and witty, with self-deprecating humor and understated heroics aplenty, this autobio left me with stars in my eyes, muttering "What a guy" in amazement at both his nerve (the man was a self-confessed troublemaker) and his bravery.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Travis

    I love this book, but not for all the same reasons I love many other WWII memoirs. It has its fair share of history, of course, and in this case it helps that Boyington's experience includes his time with the Flying Tigers in Burma as well as his contributions to the Pacific island-hopping campaigns. But what makes this book really unique is Boyington's voice. He paints a very vivid and highly personal picture of life at war--both with the Japanese and with some of his own incompetent military l I love this book, but not for all the same reasons I love many other WWII memoirs. It has its fair share of history, of course, and in this case it helps that Boyington's experience includes his time with the Flying Tigers in Burma as well as his contributions to the Pacific island-hopping campaigns. But what makes this book really unique is Boyington's voice. He paints a very vivid and highly personal picture of life at war--both with the Japanese and with some of his own incompetent military leaders (though he certainly doesn't gloss over his own faults). And his accounts of the Japanese prison camps are equally riveting, and they add interesting depth to one's appreciation of other POW experiences like that of Zamperini in "Unbroken" (whose path crossed with Boyington's). In places, "Black Sheep" reads more like a diary than a war memoir--highly personal, filled with asides and reflections, and lots of Boyington's own opinions. But it is all fascinating and engaging. I wish he had described his battles in more detail. And I would have loved to hear more about his experiences flying the Corsair, in particular. But those caveats aside, this is a great book. This is perhaps the third time I've read it, but still enjoyed it immensely.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    Surprisingly good. Despite Boyingtons reputation for padding the truth a little, my initial hesitations were won over by the honest and down to earth tone of his writing. The number of times he makes fun of himself outnumber the times he brags. I enjoyed taking a look back in time into the minds of the fighting citizen soldiers at that time, learning about air warfare in the Pacific, and seeing the strange contradictions of life as a prisoner under the Japanese.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Darren

    "Show me a hero, and I'll prove he's a bum." -Greg Boyington This book's is about the author's experiences as a WWII pilot in the Pacific. It is mostly a linear rant, but nonetheless very interesting. He meets many colorful characters and sees many strange things in China and the Solomon islands. He has some interesting insights into war and the human condition. He also talks a fair amount about the planes and missions he flew, but never deteriorates into geek-speak. As commander of the Black She "Show me a hero, and I'll prove he's a bum." -Greg Boyington This book's is about the author's experiences as a WWII pilot in the Pacific. It is mostly a linear rant, but nonetheless very interesting. He meets many colorful characters and sees many strange things in China and the Solomon islands. He has some interesting insights into war and the human condition. He also talks a fair amount about the planes and missions he flew, but never deteriorates into geek-speak. As commander of the Black Sheep Squadron, Major Greg "Pappy" Boyington was the first American to shoot down 26 enemy planes, surpassing the record set in WWI. He was also a total drunk, and there are a few stories of his drunken escapes through the book. It follows his experiences at the beginning of the war with the Flying Tigers, through the end of the war, and for a few years after when he was paraded around as a "war hero". Thus he has some interesting insights into the whole military propaganda machine as well. In short, an interesting book, with lots of stories told in a very matter-of-fact manner. It was nice to see WWII through the eyes of someone who was actually there, and not through the Hollywood lens. Worth reading if you are interested in WWII or military aviation.

  9. 5 out of 5

    John

    This was an impulse buy. I saw the new Medal of Honor memorial at UW, which includes Boyington, and on my way past Magus Books saw the book in their window (along with several others that I bought). I watched the TV show "Baa Baa Black Sheep" as a kid and went through a phase where I read a lot about military aircraft. At age 9, I probably could rattle off the technical details of every WWII military plane, or close to it - American, Japanese, British, German, Italian. My favorite was the Vought This was an impulse buy. I saw the new Medal of Honor memorial at UW, which includes Boyington, and on my way past Magus Books saw the book in their window (along with several others that I bought). I watched the TV show "Baa Baa Black Sheep" as a kid and went through a phase where I read a lot about military aircraft. At age 9, I probably could rattle off the technical details of every WWII military plane, or close to it - American, Japanese, British, German, Italian. My favorite was the Vought F4 Corsair, featured in the book and the show. The gull-winged Corsair still is a favorite, with the P-38 and P-45 close behind. Boyington is more interesting in autobiography than he was on the television show. He comes across as a very flawed person who is aware of his flaws, and also someone who is aware of his strengths. I learned a number of new things about him, that weren't mentioned in the television show. The book is rough and vulgar and tough and determined and to the point, much like its author and subject, whose subject always has been himself. But he offers a little hope at the end, that he is, finally, changing for the better.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Bill

    Great story of the Flying Tigers & VMF-214, flying the great Chance-Vought Corsair. Plus a spiritual journey through a difficult life.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jared Handwerg

    Very Gud

  12. 4 out of 5

    Paul Moore

    Fascinating story of courageous and troubled man. Pappy Boyington tells a great story about his flying in the Flying Tigers in China and Marine Corps in the Solomon Islands. Because of his alcoholism he is a humble and broken man. Not what you expect from the leader of "the black sheep" and the most successful marine pilot in the history of the Corps (in terms of aerial kills). He provides a very honest assessment of his flying days in combat, his 20 months in a brutal Japanese POW camp and his s Fascinating story of courageous and troubled man. Pappy Boyington tells a great story about his flying in the Flying Tigers in China and Marine Corps in the Solomon Islands. Because of his alcoholism he is a humble and broken man. Not what you expect from the leader of "the black sheep" and the most successful marine pilot in the history of the Corps (in terms of aerial kills). He provides a very honest assessment of his flying days in combat, his 20 months in a brutal Japanese POW camp and his struggles with alcohol after the war. Just a real humble and broken man. As a Naval Aviator during desert storm, his description of squadron life and dealing with non combatant senior officers is very authentic. He provides great descriptions and detail of many of his combat experiences. Highly recommended for military history enthusiasts. I would also have a loved one who is beginning to struggle with substance abuse read this book. Alcohol destroyed his career, his marriages, and his life.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Todd Buegler

    I feel a little embarrassed saying this, but I really enjoyed this book. For a couple of reasons: 1. I enjoyed watching the TV show when I was growing up. It was not any Emmy award winner...not by a long shot. But it was a lot of fun for someone who was probably a pre-adolescent at the time. So this book is a bit of a flashback for me. 2. I enjoy the history. I knew very little about the "Flying Tigers" era. So though it wasn't exactly comprehensive, I appreciated the opportunity to read more abo I feel a little embarrassed saying this, but I really enjoyed this book. For a couple of reasons: 1. I enjoyed watching the TV show when I was growing up. It was not any Emmy award winner...not by a long shot. But it was a lot of fun for someone who was probably a pre-adolescent at the time. So this book is a bit of a flashback for me. 2. I enjoy the history. I knew very little about the "Flying Tigers" era. So though it wasn't exactly comprehensive, I appreciated the opportunity to read more about it. 3. I enjoyed Greg Boyington's "take" on the history. His perspective was micro rather than macro. And that was interesting. His experience especially as a POW was really interesting, especially when contrasted to the experience of Louis Zamperini, who wrote "Unbroken." This book isn't going to win any awards, (it isn't that well-written) but especially for someone like me, who grew up watching the show, and interested in the history, I enjoyed reading it.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Anthony Di Bona

    I found this an enjoyable enough read. It seemed to leave out details or, more accurately, assumed that the reader could figure out what went on in some of the flying passages. He had a more or less honest tone about his past and actions especially when it came to his alcoholism and the problems it produced. The time spent in the prison camps held my attention the best. It was surprising to learn about the way they were treated by the guards and civilians. On the whole, worth a read if you want I found this an enjoyable enough read. It seemed to leave out details or, more accurately, assumed that the reader could figure out what went on in some of the flying passages. He had a more or less honest tone about his past and actions especially when it came to his alcoholism and the problems it produced. The time spent in the prison camps held my attention the best. It was surprising to learn about the way they were treated by the guards and civilians. On the whole, worth a read if you want to get to know about the man. Not so much if you wanted nitty gritty details about flight operations and warfare. Also, I grew up watching Baa Baa Black Sheep on TV and never knew about any of the things mentioned in this book. Like a lot of TV it was all fiction. The book, pretty real when it comes to finding out about Pappy.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Chad Manske

    First published in 1958, this story is simply amazing! As a career-long USAF pilot I’d heard ‘Pappy’ (a call sign he received because he was older (~30) than the much younger pilots around him) Boyington’s name all the time. This autobiography—many have criticized it for being written poorly but you’ll be drawn in from the beginning—is funny and truthful and will have readers smiling the entire book through! Pappy shot down 28 Japanese fighters, won the Congressional Medal of Honor, Navy Cross a First published in 1958, this story is simply amazing! As a career-long USAF pilot I’d heard ‘Pappy’ (a call sign he received because he was older (~30) than the much younger pilots around him) Boyington’s name all the time. This autobiography—many have criticized it for being written poorly but you’ll be drawn in from the beginning—is funny and truthful and will have readers smiling the entire book through! Pappy shot down 28 Japanese fighters, won the Congressional Medal of Honor, Navy Cross and was shot down and spent time as a POW. The exploits and stories will be relatable to other military people. Pappy and his Black Sheep squadron were misfits, but loyal to one another—there’s nothing they wouldn’t do for mutual support. Pappy courageously addresses his lifelong struggle with alcohol which makes his story even more human.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Nishi Giefer

    The autobiography of the creator of the Black Sheep Squadron as told by the only man in the Pacific Theater who could round up renegade pilots who had been kicked out of other squads and band them together into a deadly and cohesive lot. After flying with Chennault's Flying Tigers and then becoming the most successful fighter pilot in US history, "Pappy" was shot down and spent time in the same prison camp as Louis Zamperini. Underlying his life story was his battle with the bottle. Unfortunatel The autobiography of the creator of the Black Sheep Squadron as told by the only man in the Pacific Theater who could round up renegade pilots who had been kicked out of other squads and band them together into a deadly and cohesive lot. After flying with Chennault's Flying Tigers and then becoming the most successful fighter pilot in US history, "Pappy" was shot down and spent time in the same prison camp as Louis Zamperini. Underlying his life story was his battle with the bottle. Unfortunately, the story was written in the 1950s and doesn't cover the latter parts of his life. Great read for military historians and aviation buffs.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Robert M. Roth MD

    Interesting This is an autobiography about the author’s time flying with the Flying Tigers and later with a Marine squadron in the South Pacific, where he is shot down and subsequently becomes a POW held in captivity. Mr. Boyington addresses his underlying alcoholism towards the last quarter of the book in a straight forward manner. I found his story to be interesting but a bit disjointed in several places and I couldn’t understand the point he was making. All in all it was definitely an interes Interesting This is an autobiography about the author’s time flying with the Flying Tigers and later with a Marine squadron in the South Pacific, where he is shot down and subsequently becomes a POW held in captivity. Mr. Boyington addresses his underlying alcoholism towards the last quarter of the book in a straight forward manner. I found his story to be interesting but a bit disjointed in several places and I couldn’t understand the point he was making. All in all it was definitely an interesting and worthwhile read.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Dawn

    I grew up watching the show and discovered by accident that there was a book. If you choose to read this for the writing, you’ll be disappointed. As he was ranked at the time in combat, Major Greg “Pappy” Boyington tells his story like he sees it, no more, no less. He admits his faults, praises those who deserve it, but he makes one thing very clear in this book: he’s a Marine, not a writer. And in this case, that’s just fine, because it’s all about the history. This country could actually use I grew up watching the show and discovered by accident that there was a book. If you choose to read this for the writing, you’ll be disappointed. As he was ranked at the time in combat, Major Greg “Pappy” Boyington tells his story like he sees it, no more, no less. He admits his faults, praises those who deserve it, but he makes one thing very clear in this book: he’s a Marine, not a writer. And in this case, that’s just fine, because it’s all about the history. This country could actually use leaders like him.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lu

    An honest tale of a mans journey....... I have been a fan of the TV show "Baa Baa Black Sheep" since it first appeared back in 1976, I believe. I found this book more than riveting, opening up the man, Greg "Pappy" Boyington, in a way the show that I loved never did. Every twist & turn his life took made him the man he was. He gives an insight into many situations that I doubt I would have otherwise gleaned. I am so happy I decided to read this, I recommend it highly. An honest tale of a mans journey....... I have been a fan of the TV show "Baa Baa Black Sheep" since it first appeared back in 1976, I believe. I found this book more than riveting, opening up the man, Greg "Pappy" Boyington, in a way the show that I loved never did. Every twist & turn his life took made him the man he was. He gives an insight into many situations that I doubt I would have otherwise gleaned. I am so happy I decided to read this, I recommend it highly.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    I was a fan of the TV show back in the 70's (early 80's?). This book describes some of the times captured in the 2-season series, but coverers much more. Boyington spent 1-1/2 years as a POW from Jan 3, 1944, through the end of the war. This along with his (in my mind) enlightened view of the Japanese people are fascinating to witness in this book. Likewise, Boyington's own descriptions of his emotional immaturity and alcoholism are similarly refreshing in the frank way he describes them. I was a fan of the TV show back in the 70's (early 80's?). This book describes some of the times captured in the 2-season series, but coverers much more. Boyington spent 1-1/2 years as a POW from Jan 3, 1944, through the end of the war. This along with his (in my mind) enlightened view of the Japanese people are fascinating to witness in this book. Likewise, Boyington's own descriptions of his emotional immaturity and alcoholism are similarly refreshing in the frank way he describes them.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tim Ganotis

    This was great. A very matter-of-fact autobiography from a WWII ace. The narrative gets a bit off track with various tangents and unrelated stories, but very interesting and easy to read. Certainly not as preachy as other similar books have been (in fact the author was in the same Japanese prison camp as another author that I found to be particularly preachy).

  22. 5 out of 5

    Charles Huss

    I thought it was a very interesting read. The only thing I didn't like is that he spent too much time talking about his alcohol related problems. It is great that he is honest about it and I think it is important that he talks about it in the book but personally, I was more interested in reading about his war stories. I thought it was a very interesting read. The only thing I didn't like is that he spent too much time talking about his alcohol related problems. It is great that he is honest about it and I think it is important that he talks about it in the book but personally, I was more interested in reading about his war stories.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ian Holmqvist

    Really good book! I think the only thing that I didn't really like was that Pappy didn't really know that much about writing books, but it was such a good book that doesn't matter. I was really sad when I finished it. Would recommend this book to almost anyone! Really good book! I think the only thing that I didn't really like was that Pappy didn't really know that much about writing books, but it was such a good book that doesn't matter. I was really sad when I finished it. Would recommend this book to almost anyone!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Betty Briggs

    Very good read I loved watching the show Baa Baa BLACK Sheep and wanted to read Pappy's book. I'm happy I did. I am happy Greg wad able to overcome his drinking problem and hee found peace in his life at last¡ Very good read I loved watching the show Baa Baa BLACK Sheep and wanted to read Pappy's book. I'm happy I did. I am happy Greg wad able to overcome his drinking problem and hee found peace in his life at last¡

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Nelson

    Excellent Exciting and often hilarious aviation/WW2 adventure story, followed by Boyington's gradual redemption in his personal life, which was surprisingly insightful. Highly recommended. Excellent Exciting and often hilarious aviation/WW2 adventure story, followed by Boyington's gradual redemption in his personal life, which was surprisingly insightful. Highly recommended.

  26. 4 out of 5

    bonnie kirchner

    Bas Bas Black Sheep I really wanted to read this book because I always want h the show Black Sheep Squadron. I wanted to see if the show followed the book. It did a little . The book was very interesting. I would recommend this book.

  27. 5 out of 5

    John P Gildernew

    Excellent Reads like a conversation with Pappy, with all the thoughts and digressions that come and go during it. Readable, really enjoyable.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Scott Umphrey

    Very good book. Signed by the author.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sebastien Vitoux

    A man with his devils I have in my memory the picture of Robert Conrad from the serie. In fact Boyington was more than a tv hero. Very interesting please read it

  30. 5 out of 5

    Tamara

    Picked this up out of curiosity. Interesting

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