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Flying Tigers: Claire Chennault and His American Volunteers, 1941-1942 Paperback – June 24, 2016
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From Library Journal
Many books, articles, films, and TV productions have appeared on the legendary exploits of the Flying Tigers, General Chennault's small band of U.S. Army and Navy pilots recruited to fly for China in 1941. This is not another laudatory work. The author tries to strip away many of the legends surrounding the Group. There were never more than 100 pilots (not 200). Some of them enlisted for adventure and some for patriotic reasons. The majority were attracted by the salary--$500 per month plus a bonus for every enemy plane destroyed--much more than they could earn in the peacetime Army. Most served out their year's contract, collected that money, and went home. Contrary to popular opinion, they were not fighting the Japanese before America entered the war. They did not see action until December 7th. The Group destroyed 115 enemy planes and lost 22. Actually they had little influence on the outcome of World War II; but 50 years later the publicity rolls on. A worthwhile addition to aviation and World War II collections. P.S., John Wayne never served with the Flying Tigers. For a roundup of books on Pearl Harbor and the Pacific War, see "Day of Infamy in Print," LJ 9/1/91, p. 206-7.--Ed.
- Stanley Itkin, Hillside P.L., New Hyde Park, N.Y.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Having been a fan of the Flying Tigers since I saw the John Wayne movie as a kid, I picked up this updated version of their impressive combat history. One of the most interesting aspects of Ford's well-researched book is its in-depth coverage of 1st American Volunteer Group (AVG) personnel, an odd lot of rugged individualists. -- Col. Gordon Keiser, United States Naval Institute Proceedings
"A first-rate history." -- Boston Globe
"A major contribution to the history of the air war in the Pacific." -- Don Lopez, US Army 23rd Fighter Group Flying Tigers
"Admirable--a readable book based on sound sources. Expect a few surprises." -- Air Power Historian
"Meticulously researched, carefully documented." -- Washington Times
"Totally engrossing--just like reliving those days fifty years ago." -- Robert Neale, AVG 1st Squadron
"War history as it should be written." -- The Hook
"Without question, the most readable and complete account of the AVG yet written." -- Air & Space / Smithsonian
"In this vivid and fact-filled historical account of aerial combat, Daniel Ford completely updates and revises his 1991 work describing the extraordinary accomplishments of the pilots and support crews of the 1st American Volunteer Group (AVG) in the earliest days of World War II.... Ford closes his book with these words: "More than sixty years ago, in their incandescent youth, they were heroes to a nation that needed heroes. . . . All honor to them." Indeed, and acclaim to Daniel Ford for his thorough telling of an eventful war in the air, one that should be remembered." -- William Calhoun
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This is fantastic history, painstakingly researched by author Daniel Ford, from a composite of both western and eastern sources that is sweeping in scope and balanced in perspective. At the same time, this is far from a stodgy historical tome; the dogfights are pulse-poundingly recreated from the hammer of the machine guns to whine of straining engines and propellers. Ford evokes all the nail-biting chaos and split-second maneuvering of aerial combat, drawing directly from the logs, diaries, and records of the combatants. I know (only because Ford clues us in the preface) that there is considerable controversy regarding the number of “kills” accredited to the Tigers, but whatever the actual number is, it does little to diminish the bravery or gumption of the pilots. (And to be fair, by the close of the book, Ford often a pretty good case when it comes to the final tally of downed aircraft).
This is also not a novel penned through rose-colored glasses. Ford acknowledges that while patriotism played a role, money was also a motivator. There’s certainly a sense of a proto-military-industrialism among some of the backers of the AVG operation, and the Tigers themselves tend toward the Hand Solo-side of things rather than the more altruistic Luke Skywalker-type. Throw in femme fatales like green-eyed Olga Greenlaw and the mysterious Madame Chiang Kai-Shek and the mythology fairly writes itself. To his credit, Ford doesn’t give in to this lure and sticks to the facts, but the characters, locale, time period, and subject matter are simply irresistible and fairly beg for pulpy fictionalization.
Bottom line ... Ford delivers a solid historical narrative that never skimps on the details, but reads like an adventure novel. Bravo! And, to echo the author, all honor to the men and women of the Flying Tigers.
First off, the AVG is an excellent topic for a research paper. World War II was such a big war, you can take an entire college-level class on the conflict and never hear the AVG mentioned (as I did), and professors tend to like it when their students choose a topic that was not covered extensively in class (said my professor: "I'm telling you right now, I do not want ANOTHER paper on D-Day").
Obviously, anyone writing a paper will want more than one source, but Ford has written an easily-comprehended and almost totally comprehensive book. I used roughly six sources for my 13-page paper, and of the 75+ citations I made Ford's book was in all but two of them.
Ford covers two areas primarily: the career of Claire Chennault up until the AVG disbanded, and the actions of the Flying Tigers while they were still the AVG. If your paper would need detailed information of the Sino-Japanese conflict leading up to 1941, or to cover anything after the AVG disbanded (note that the US Army force that moved in to replace the AVG also called themselves the "Flying Tigers, so don't be confused), you would need to read something else in addition to this book (such as Into the Teeth of the Tiger, which is a autobiography that documents a good chunk of the post-AVG conflict with cameos from major characters from Ford's book).
And, of infinite value to someone writing a paper, Ford's book features an extensive index and appendices for quick reference.
As far as sources go, Ford's book is hard to beat. If you are in a modern or military history class and are hunting for a topic, consider the AVG. Ford's book will make your life much easier.
To think of the chances they took and what they achieved it could make you feel a bit inadequate! they deserve a fitting tribute and i believe that this book delivers it.