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Winged Victory: The Army Air Forces in World War II Paperback – August 10, 1993

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 549 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st edition (August 10, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679404643
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679404644
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.7 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,877,042 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With verve and elan, Perret ( There's a War to Be Won ) presents the epic narrative of American air power in the Second World War. On one level, he chronicles the work of energetic, single-minded military men--Henry "Hap" Arnold, Carl Spaatz, George Kenney and Curtis LeMay--with powerful civilians such as Robert Lovett (clarifying his role in linking the aviation industry with the Army Air Corps) and industrialist Donald Douglas, manufacturer of some of the warplanes that made up the great U.S. air armada. The book also covers wartime research & development: the evolution of engines, armament, armor plating, fuel tanks, gun sights, bomb sights and, above all, the testing and operational deployment of American warplanes. These planes included the P-38, P-39, P-40, P-47 and P-51 fighters and the B-17, B-24, B-25 and B-29 bombers. Each plane was distinctive in capability and characteristics, and Perret defines the differences in detail. Finally, his book offers vivid personal accounts by former pilots, bombadiers and turret gunners that convey the exhilaration and terror of aerial combat. Photos.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

Perret's There's a War to be Won, to be Won (1991) examined the role of US Army ground troops in WW II. Here, the author focuses on the part played by the Army Air Forces in the same conflict, and also covers how WW I's fledgling Army Signal Corps air service evolved into the world's mightiest air force. But despite its exultant title, Perret's chronicle is one not only of a hard-won triumph but also of errors and terrors; of political battles for turf between and within the military services; of leaders with heads in the clouds and feet of clay; of American aircraft often inferior than that flown by our enemies; and of the heroism of--and sometimes horrifying price paid by--the bomber and fighter crews who had to fly through hell and back in order to attack their targets. Both a valuable military history, then, as well as a notable contribution to the long-running debate over the ability of air power alone to achieve national objectives. (Sixteen pages of b&w photos--not seen) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

Very entertaining and very informative.
Patrick Watson
He has admited in interviews that he is not really an historian, but is rather a writer with research assistants and relies mostly on secondary sources.
Wine guy who reads
This being said, this book is not without its flaws.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By KnightCross on February 9, 2012
Format: Paperback
After reading some of the reviews of this book, I would have assumed it wasn't really that good. However, I have read it from cover-to-cover, and very familiar with the air battles of WWII, and have NOT read any of his other books.

First of all, I'll deal with the last item. I have not read any of the author's previous works. I don't know what subjects he covered with those books, but for the topic at hand, the behind-the-scenes look at the USAAC/USAAF before and during WWII, he does a brilliant job. More on that in a minute.

If you are looking for a book that covers the details of every major air combat in WWII, this is not your book. If you want a book that gives the details of each mission and how it was fought...not your book. If you want a book that ties the details of how the generals fought the war, what they decided to do, how it impacted the overall battles and conflict...this is your book. This book ties together all the details that you never hear when you read the other books...why was Ploesti bombed multiple times at a heavy cost, and what did it really gain us? Why did none of our fighters have the range of our bombers at the start of the war (they could have)? Why did we change from daylight "precision" bombing in Europe to night-time mass attack in Japan (which we disagreed with in Europe)? Why did the Navy control the bombs that the USAAF dropped?

This book covers all that, and does it very well. Given that it doesn't talk about the battles so much as the reasons behind them, it is still very engrossing. Understanding why we did what we did was very enlightening to be able to tie with the knowledge of the specific air battles we fought.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Harry Eagar VINE VOICE on March 16, 2009
Format: Paperback
It's an ambitious project to tell the history of the Army Air Forces in World War II in one volume, but Geoffrey Perret goes beyond that, and he`s up to it.

He begins with a capsule history of Army aviation from the start. If you're looking for shoot-'em-up whoop-de-do, go elsewhere. Perret is primarily an institutional historian and nearly half the book is done before a shot is fired.

Something has to give, and it's logistics. Within the compass of fewer than 500 pages, Perret does a fine job on leaders, tactics, planes (but not other types of equipment, such as weapons, communications and navigation); and a reasonable job on politics (home and foreign), recruitment and training. Strategy is another matter, which I'll get to later. I would not have thought you could write a history of the AAF without mentioning Takoradi, but Perret has done it.

To a great but not overwhelming degree, this is the story of Hap Arnold's Army Air Forces. Arnold had many flaws, such as limiting his pool of commanders to a few, sometimes not very good mates from his younger days, but overall Perret is an admirer.

He says he cannot imagine anyone else commanding the air force, no one else standing up to George Marshall of the ground forces or Ernest King of the navy. Well, as the French say, the graveyards are full of indispensable men. But Perret is probably right that Tooey Spaatz, the most likely replacement, would not have done well. Spaatz had a good deal of the idiot in him, claiming as late as 1943 that by maintaining 36 sorties per day by heavy bombers he could control enemy shipping in the Mediterranean.

(Perret acknowledges that some people at the time thought Frank Andrews would have excelled Arnold, but Andrews was killed in a crash.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Fred Waltman on December 9, 1999
Format: Paperback
I've just finished re-reading Winged Victory. I enjoyed it, but I would have liked it better if had more focus. It had some technology, (not enough for me -- I'm a gadget person) but probably too much for people who aren't looking for that. As for the people side, I didn't really feel I came away knowing the players (as I have with Perrett's other books). Some coverage of the politcal goings on, but I wanted more. At times the book seemed to drag with recitations of 'so many sorties, so many shot down one day, more sorties, more planes lost the next.'
But I don't mean to be so negative -- I did enjoy the book (and am re-reading it) and can recommend the paperback version to anybody with an interest in the subject. Mr Perrett does write very well.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 10, 1998
Format: Paperback
Geoffery Perret has given us some near classical one volume histories on US military history in the past {War to be won...A Country made by War}. Yet here he stumbles, not fatally but certainly critically. His previous works have shown a novelists smooth touch with the unsparing eye of a serious evidence driven historian. But here, the tale of the nurturing, birth and colossal growth of the USAAF in WW2 fails to evolve on his canvas as crisply as his previous works. The overriding obsession with Hap Arnold shown here should have left me with a clearer idea of who the man was and what made him tick. Yet I am still largely in the dark about the man, and in spite of his passion, I am still not quite sure how to frame his herculean efforts on the part of the AAF. Also, the brisk but detailed style of "There's a war to be won" is missing here. In that book we were able to effortlessly leap between the development of equipment, doctrines and training programs to the battlefields where all the above were tested by blood and fire, and often had to be improvised over. In "Winged Victory" however, I found myself bogged down in top heavy dissertations on personality conflicts and technical aero-babble that ill suits a one volume history. All in all, the book has some chapters useful for quick referencing and tidy summations, but as a one volume history, falls well short of what Perret has given us in the past.
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