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Hap Arnold and the Evolution of American Airpower (Smithsonian History of Aviation Series) Paperback – June 17, 2001


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Product Details

  • Series: Smithsonian History of Aviation Series
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Smithsonian Books (June 17, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560989491
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560989493
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,319,204 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Winner of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics History Manuscript Award
“[U]ntil now [Hap Arnold] hasn’t been blessed with a serious biography. Dik Daso, one of a handful of fighter pilots to earn a Ph.D. in history, fills the gap, and in the process uses Arnold’s life as a metaphor for the development of US air power in the first half of the twentieth-century. . . . [Arnold] was a consummate politician . . . [and a] strategist, one who almost single-handedly built up the US Army Air Forces and gave it a distinct mission.”—Air & Space

About the Author

Dik Alan Daso is a US Air Force pilot and the author of Architects of American Air Supremacy: General Hap Arnold and Dr. Theodore von Kármán.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 22, 2001
Dik Alan Daso's "Hap Arnold and the Evolution of American Air Power" of the Smithsonian History of Aviation Series is an incomplete, if interesting and well-written volume about a unique and visionary man.
Daso's book is an intimate look at General of the Army Henry Arnold from birth up until about 1939. At that point the work becomes distinctly sketchy and leaves out a number of incidents documented in other works, or treats them very lightly. These include several controversies that involved Arnold.
It may be that Daso considered the story delineated in his sub-title did not require treatment of these topics, or that he is too close to his subject. A review by Overy describes the volume as a "sympathetic biography" and one is led to wonder if, out of admiration, Daso tread a little bit lightly around a few issues.
With respect to his treatment of Arnold outside the years of 1939-1945, Daso's is an excellent and readable biography that provides such human detail as to make Hap Arnold live again for the reader. Through Daso's writing Arnold becomes someone you might know and sympathize with, and admire. There is little to criticize in this portion of the effort.
Unfortunately, the gross lack of detail during the period of World War II greatly diminishes the value of this volume as anything more than a personal biography. Daso's failure to treat this period in detail leaves gaping voids for any to evaluate where Hap Arnold really stood on a number of the great controversies surrounding the air war. Other than a few sentences here and there which seem to treat these matters as foregone conclusions worthy of little or no attention, they go unremarked upon.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas E. Sarantakes on July 8, 2007
General of the Air Force Henry "Hap" Arnold is probably the least known of the great World War II leaders. Very few people outside of the U.S. Air Force have probably every heard of him. This lack of recognition is sad, because Arnold made important contributions to the outcome of the war as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

There are only two biographies of Arnold: this book and another by Thomas M. Coffey. Both are good, but Dik Alan Daso has written the better book. Daso, as a former USAF officer, has a better understanding of how the military works and offers a portrait that really develops the personality of the man. Arnold was an air pioneer--he was the second trained pilot in the U.S. Army, having learned to fly from the Wright brothers themselves--and he made enormous contributions to the outcome of the war in developing strategy and procuring supplies. This material is often less than sexy but it is of critical importance to the outcome of a conflict. Daso shows that Arnold poured himself into his job, putting in 12, 14, and 16 hour days. It is no surprise that he suffered four heart attacks during the war years and nearly destroyed his marriage.

Coffey's book is thicker and fuller of more stories, but he seems primarily interested in telling a good story. Daso gives his readers a full account of his subject's life and shows how this rather simple man ended up leading, managing, and administering the millions that made up the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Barrett Tillman on December 26, 2007
This biography of a major military figure earns high marks for describing Arnold's personality but falls short in other aspects. One example will suffice: Arnold put his professional reputation on the line with the B-29, the largest weapon program of the war, costing even more than the Manhattan Project. But it's only discussed on one page with a few other incidental references.

Considering how much personal attention Arnold devoted to the 29 program, there is surprisingly little coverage of how the Superfortress was developed and deployed. Arnold pushed the program beyond its limits, committing it to combat in Asia (at the end of the world's longest supply line, with primitive bases) before either the aircraft or the crews were ready. The name of Kenneth B. Wolfe does not appear in the book: he took the 29 from Kansas to India and China but Arnold fired him after XX Bomber Command flew two missions!

The author does not address another contention worth covering: Arnold's main contribution to WW II was made between 1938 and 1942. Thereafter, his hands-on management style simply could not keep up with events, and he nearly killed himself trying to do so.

For a detailed look at Hap Arnold the man, this is a strong offering. But the definitive biography awaits publication.
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The Army Air Forces that met the Axis powers in the Second World War, 2.4 million airmen strong, was more than 50 times larger than it had been at the beginning of 1940. The lion's share of the credit for this staggering expansion belongs to General Henry Harley Arnold. This is a formal biography of "Hap" by Air Force pilot and Smithsonian Verville Fellow Dik Alan Daso.

In 1907, the West Point cadet from Ohio was commissioned in the infantry, but he became one of the first Army aviators, trained to fly at the Wright Brothers' school. Daso tracks Arnold's assignments and shows how unit, school, and staff experiences; missions such as flying the air mail and organizing the deployment of B-10 bombers to Alaska in 1934; and association with scientists and industrialists gave Arnold a comprehensive vision of air power.

Daso calls it a complex magasystem. To put well trained airmen in capable aircraft in the air against our enemies needed a "balanced" air program. This meant the parallel development of aircraft, aircrews, units, maintenance, munitions, bases, schools, supply, replacements, the aviation industry, technology, and experimental science. All these necessary elements of air power were already linked in Arnold's mind well before the war. They only needed rapid implementation on a large scale, and Arnold's drive and overwork to create the air arm in a few short years during the war surely shortened his life.

The small size and limited reach of the pre-war Air Service and Air Corps allowed Daso to narrate all of this in detail through the 1930s.
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