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Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War
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on June 11, 2014
My Air Force career paralleled Col. Boyds and I am amazed to find that I never heard of him or his exploits. I believe he was a true genius in his field of Aeronautics and Engineering. Every fighter he talks about and examines I have seen in action. The A-10 is still the most awesome aircraft in action that I have ever had the pleasure to see.
I started my AF career as a gunner in the B-29 in Korea. The MIG 15 was by far the best in the sky until the F-86s came on scene and roughed up the MIGs. Although the P-51 held its ground it could not keep up with the jet age fighters. I went on to spend over 20 years as a Flight Engineer, transitioning from prop aircraft (C-124) to jets (C-141) with over 15,000 hours in all types. I was able to understand most of the aeronautical engineering concepts Col. Boyd advocated and they all made sense to me.
Robert Stackhouse , MSGT, USAF Flight Engineer Retired (1974)
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on November 5, 2014
An amazing story of a fighter pilot who changed the way modern military thinks - especially the U.S. Marines. He was behind the "fighter Mafia" who forced the introduction of the F16 into the U.S. Air Force when everyone was pushing for "bigger, faster, heavier, more expensive aircraft." Norman Swartzkopf used his teachings in planning the "Left Hook" through the desert in the first Gulf War. The Marines were the only arm of service that embraced his ideas - and greatly benefited from the fresh ideas, while the Air Force continued their resistance to change and kept going for non-functional aircraft, merely because they were good for careers and promotion!
An extremely good book - from Korea to Vietnam and on to the fights regarding the purchase of the useless F111 and Boyds influence in the F15 and F16. A modern day San Tsu / von Clauswitz.
Highly recommended!
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on November 24, 2012
I liked the story but it could be a lot shorter without so much emphasis on local color and family history. It seemed the author could not decide how to treat Boyd's family life in regard to Boyd's separation of personal and professional duties and responsibilities. It took forever to get the the one of the main events the F16 this could have been crisper and more direct.

It still is worth the read, especially if you are outside of what was once called the Military Industrial Complex. The insight on how Defense Acqustions were made and is some cases still are made is good background to todays's issues on Defense Spending, bottom line - throwing alot of money at a problem is not always the best answer. Decisions in the Defense Department take decades and usually the systems procurred are outdated or the strategy behind them is OBE before they get into the field.
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on May 20, 2015
Why I didn't know of Colonel Boyd before now is a mystery. He was an intellectual giant and extraordinary fighter pilot with skills no one else possessed. He revolutionized the way warfare was carried out and for the better. He fought Pentagon procurement boondoggles with no regard to his promotions so unusual in the career advancement tract. He formed a coterie of intellectual giants who were "disciples" of his revolutionary theories on energy, mass, thrust and design. After retirement his ideas became incorporated in the business world and embraced by powerful forces like Dick Cheney prior to the Gulf War. He is portrayed as the greatest military theorist since Sun Tzu. A fascinating study into a genius whose most obvious flaw was his personal life and parenting failures which occurred because of his 24/7 dedication to his calling.
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on June 10, 2013
John Boyd remarked that the Pentagon is a building filled with people who would willingly give their life for their country, but not a single one would willingly sacrifice their career for the nation. Col. Boyd spend a career challenging conventional wisdom, starting as one of the finest fighter pilots in the U.S. Air Force, then becoming a cutting-edge aircraft designer and finally a military strategist whose theories have been embraces by the Marines, but ignored by his home service of the USAF. Along the way Boyd recklessly stepped on all of the wrong toes in the military. But it is around Boyd's ideas that much of modern military thinking is today crafted. The U.S. military today needs to find a better way to encourage and listen to military thinkers like John Boyd.
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on September 6, 2013
An excellent book on the man who changed the ways of combat fighter flying. Colonel Boyd was a visionary in analyzing air to air combat and developing the energy–maneuverability theory for air combat. The aircraft produced for the USAF using his ideas are the best in the world. One of his ideas was to produce light weight low cost fighters. This led to a YF-16/ YF-17 fly off. This competition did indeed produce excellent fighter aircraft, the F-16 Fighting Falcon for the Air Force, and the F-18 Hornet(derived from the F-17). Unfortunately while these are excellent aircraft by the time the Pentagon was finished with them the aircraft while are superior fighters, they are neither light weight or low cost. Again an excellent book.
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on December 12, 2013
Great account of a real life Warrior poet... John Boyd is a legend in the Fighter community. Unknown to most people he fought the military system and through fearless determination changed the USAF and influenced how all the services view modern warfare. Col Boyd can be safely called "The father of the F15 and F16 having shaped the development and influenced the "go" decision to produce them as frontline fighters. Having spent most of my adult life strapped in the cockpit of one (the F16) I greatly enjoyed it. It is a third person account looking back at his life and shows in great detail how those who dare and win and achieve great things do so at great personal sacrifice. Highly recommended!
RR
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on November 22, 2010
If you've never heard of Boyd, this is a great introduction, and as other reviewers have suggested, I hope there will be more. Not more about his personal life because that was a failure and well documented in this book. But more about his brilliance as an analyst of combat tactics and his mathematical theories of warfare. Did his theories change the world? Apparently not. Look where the U.S. is now in the Middle East. But for at time, yes, Boyd the flawed man made a difference. And that's what this book is all about--how Boyd made a difference in his time and against all odds. If you're not already angry at the way Congress and the Pentagon do business, this will certainly light your fire.
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I have not read many biographies, but when I pick one up its usually because I know of the person being written about. This book was recommended to me by a couple of friends repeatedly, so I finally picked it up - despite having virtually no knowledge of the military or interest in the Air Force.

That said, I am very glad I did. This book offers a great look at the the man John Boyd and what he accomplished. The breadth of what he was able to accomplish is astonishing, and its a book that just about anyone will enjoy. I can't recommend it highly enough, one of the best books I've read about one of the most interesting, influential people of the last 100 years.
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on February 8, 2014
Being as this is the first biography I've ever ever read, I truly think the only value of my review ewe as a general reader lies in the following: though this is the first biography I've ever read, this is by no means the first biography I've ever started. I'm a fiction reader through and through, yet this held my attention with consistency. Though extremely favorable, with the biographer's only negative comments being the all too easy comments on "a great man" usually demonstrating poor commitment to his family, it was still informative, educating, and enjoyable. As an Air Force officer only briefly familiarized with Boyd, this was well worth all investments.
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