Gregory A. Freeman The Forgotten 500: The Untold Story of the Men Who Risked All for the Greatest Rescue Mission of World War II

Last updated: July 8, 2019

Gregory A. Freeman The Forgotten 500: The Untold Story of the Men Who Risked All for the Greatest Rescue Mission of World War II

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We looked at the top Non-Fiction Books and dug through the reviews from some of the most popular review sites. Through this analysis, we've determined the best Non-Fiction Book you should buy.

Overall Take

In our analysis of 42 expert reviews, the Gregory A. Freeman The Forgotten 500 placed 6th when we looked at the top 6 products in the category. For the full ranking, see below.

From The Manufacturer

Bombing of the Ploiesti, Romania, oil refineries, a key German resource, started in 1942. Allied pilots sustaining damage frequently bailed out over Serbia in German-occupied Yugoslavia, where the resistance and others hid them. By 1944, more than 500 were stranded and slowly starving. The OSS concocted the daring Operation Halyard to airlift them, but they had to construct a landing strip without tools and without alerting the Germans or endangering local villagers, and then the rescuers had to avoid being shot down themselves. The operation’s story is an exciting tale, but it was kept from general knowledge for decades; the resistance leader most responsible was a rival to Tito. Nazi-baited by a Stalinist mole in British intelligence, he was executed in 1946 with the consent of Britain and America, which thereafter refused to acknowledge having been snookered (the State Department kept many details classified more than 50 years). Evoking the rescuees’ successive desperation, wild hope, and joy, and their gratitude to the Serbians who risked their lives to help, Freeman produces a breathtaking popular account. Murray, Frieda

Expert Reviews

Expert Summarized Score

5 expert reviews

User Summarized Score

1,445 user reviews

What experts liked

The intense pressures of wartime also inspired great creativity and courage that ultimately saved the lives of hundreds of Allied pilots, who had all but lost hope that they would see home again. I highly recommend the book.
- Research Teacher
February 26, 2015 | Full review
The best part of the book was getting to know some of the personalities involved, and learning about the incredible rescue that took place against unbelievable odds.
- The Deliberate Reader
May 5, 2015 | Full review
This daring operation remained largely unknown for six decades afterward, due to government red tape, political machinations, and lack of public interest. It was stored mainly in top-secret files and the minds of the men who experienced it. Now, drawing on recently declassified documents in the United States, Britain, and former Yugoslavia, The Forgotten 500 brings Halyard into the revealing light of day.
- History Net
April 26, 2018 | Full review
The Forgotten 500 successfully achieved its goal of telling the story of a large rescue operation that was unjustifiably unknown and the gallantry of anonymous Serbs who played small but nevertheless important parts in the ultimate defeat of Germany.
- World War II Database
November 1, 2013 | Full review

What experts didn't like

The storytelling was repetitive and occasionally clunky, and reviews seem to indicate that he gets some of the easily verifiable historical facts incorrect (things related to military aspects which I have zero interest in, and no desire to dig deeper into it to see if the criticisms are valid or not.)
- The Deliberate Reader
May 5, 2015 | Full review


  • Before breaking into the world of non-fiction novels, decide what sub-genre you are most interested in reading about. This will help narrow down your search in this broad genre.
  • Talk to a librarian about any new authors that are getting great reviews. They will have first-hand feedback from readers of those novels.
  • Use the resources at your fingertips, such as the internet, to research. There are plenty of websites that offer book reviews. So utilize them and find a great non-fiction novel to get started reading today.
  • If you are taking a college course and want supporting documentation on a topic you are learning about, the non-fiction novels will definitely add some dimension to your education.

Buying Advice

There’s nothing better than a great book. Some prefer an imaginative story or fiction book while others thrive on non-fiction, factual storylines that tell us of real events. The non-fiction genres offer readers an incredible glimpse into the lifestyles and characters of actual people but often written with a dramatic flair. Truman Capote, the author of “In Cold Blood,” was said to have started this genre in 1965 when the novel was published (although, this is often not believed since there are several other non-fiction novels published previous to this date). There are countless sub-genres within the non-fiction novel genre, so be sure to check them all out before making your purchase.

There are quite a few ways that authors have approached non-fiction novels. Although the characters are real people and most of the facts are actual, there can be some imaginative writing in between, especially in conversations and such. The other approach is packed with all facts and strictly to the point, so the reader doesn’t have to guess what is factual versus imaginative. Both are interesting reads; however, you’ll have to decide for yourself which is most captivating.

Perhaps one of the most well-known sub-genres of non-fiction novels is a memoir or autobiography. Most have read a memoir in part, if not in entirety, during their school years. Memoirs are perhaps the most accurate works you will find in the genre since they are narrated by the individual themselves. In the autobiography, “Educated: A Memoir” by Tara Westover, readers will get an entire picture of a woman overcoming her lack of primary education and isolation when she enters the intimidating realm of college. Another incredible memoir is “Etched in Sand” by Regina Calcaterra. She relives her abusive childhood in this autobiography to show readers that you can not only survive but overcome trials and tribulations that befall you at a young age. The autobiography sub-genre offers people the chance to walk in someone else’s shoes and relive the experiences that shaped them. If you are a fact seeker, autobiographies will give you the most accurate account of a person’s life.

Within the sub-genre of autobiography, readers will find many narratives of famous people. If you are interested in pop culture and would like to learn more about how people rise to fame, this category is right up your alley. The book, “Walk to Beautiful” by musician Jimmy Wayne is one of the best non-fiction novels out there. He discusses the difficulties of being poor and the disorganization of the broken foster care system, based on his personal life experiences. A perfect combination of reality and fame come together in this category.

For a thriller-type read, the true crime sub-genre is where you’ll want to look for a book. This category is typically packed with mystery, violence, law and forensics — all based on actual events. The novels are usually embellished with creative writing here and there, but the main storyline is factual and true to the real events. In the book, “Killers of the Flower Moon” by David Grann, you will find the retelling of the murders of several people in the wealthy community of Osage Nation in Oklahoma. You will find all the thrills in this non-fiction novel along with an accurate depiction of events around the murders. True crime non-fiction books are just the thing if you want to learn more about a specific historical crime.

There are countless other categories in the non-fiction novel genre. They have so much to offer from education to insight and instructions. Non-fiction educational options typically involve history books, science stories, psychology novels and literary novels. Whenever you want to travel, you will surely pick up a travel novel, and same with self-help. If you want to learn about sports, you’ll find facts stick with you when you read a non-fiction novel based on that sport. Technology, house and garden and social science are even more categories you’ll discover when you delve into non-fiction novels, and you won’t find a better way to learn and get inspired than through the books within this genre.

No matter what your walk of life is, non-fiction novels will give you the tools you need to constantly be improving yourself, increasing your knowledge and learning with a multi-faceted approach. Non-fiction novels of all categories should be a staple in every home.