16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Interesting read on little-known influencer of art of war,
This review is from: Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War (Hardcover)
I first heard of Boyd the fighter pilot when I operated out of Boyd Hall at Nellis AFB and saw the blurb about him in the entryway. When the book came out, I was eager to find out more, especially since I have flown F-16s for many years, and was interested in more of its background, since the book promised revealing Boyd's influence in the development of the modern fighter.
I did find the book interesting, but I think not in the way the author intended. As a fighter pilot, Boyd seems to have been exceptional, but that aspect was only worth a few chapters (which is about how much it took). I thought the author spent entirely too much time on Boyd's childhood, trying to lay the groundwork for explaining his eccentric behavior. As a person, I found Boyd anything but admirable. He was a lousy officer, a lousy husband, and a lousy father (based on the facts laid out in the book). And by the author's own accounts, Boyd was somewhat less than fully truthful in some of his recounts of past exploits. One thing I got from the book was that if Boyd had been able to improve his interpersonal relationship skills even a little, he could have had a much greater, positive affect on all the things he is known to have influenced and probably many he is not known for. But I strongly agree with what Boyd said about "doing something" or "being someone" (careerists) in the Air Force (trust me, after 18 years I understand - I chose to do and consequently got burned).
This brings me to the three things I thought made the book a worthwhile read. I loved the nitty gritty that surrounded Boyd as the fighter pilot. I thought it interesting to compare the then and now, to read about some of the first jet fighters from a fighter pilot's perspective. But what I found even more interesting was the story surrounding Boyd's lengthy time at the pentagon and the influences and swirling controversy Boyd affected on the developments of the fighters of my era, the F-111, F15, A-10 and F-16. The third was Boyd's direct influence on the change in much of the doctrinal thinking across the services in his later years.
So, as a vehicle to bring the reader through these interesting eras, Boyd was worthy of a book. I only wish the author hadn't spent so much effort trying to make Boyd out as a super-human who just wasn't understood, instead of what he was, an eccentric fighter pilot with some great ideas and the convictions to see them through.