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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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He has done an excellent job of placing them in the context of their times. He interviewed a number of surviving Tigers, including the lesser lights of the Group, and told the truth with at best only a little varnish. He provides the specifications of the aircraft used by both sides over China and Burma, and precisely details who was stationed where, when and with how many aircraft of what types, on both sides.
He gives a good look at the interactions between Chennault, Chiang, Madame Chiang, Stilwell and Bissell; and their patrons and enemies back in Washington. How the assorted feuds amongst the principals and their patrons affected the war in the air and on the ground has never been analyzed in quite this way before. One thing I like was that Ford presents the facts as he unearthed them, and leaves it to the reader to draw conclusions as to how things went wrong and what could have been done differently, and who could have done them differently.
Ford brings the myths crashing down in flames. But he then erects a new monument to a group of heroes, some of them reluctant and all with feet of clay, who did the impossible for the ungrateful with almost nothing at all. The reader will, I think, take away an even greater respect for the men (and women) of the American Volunteer Group than he brought to the book before reading.
This one belongs on the bookshelf of all who study World War II and how it brought about the world we live in today.
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.
I quit reading g at about 3/4 through. A half century later, we need to know these patriotic flyers were not quite as good, not quite as skillful, not quite as deserving of our thanks, are not at all as great as the Legend of the Flying Tigers has always been? Why? Why? A "look at me" book? Everybody has it wrong except Daniel Ford. Too bad I have to award even 1 star to such a collection of answers to unasked questions.
Oh, I don't recommend this thing. There are several good histories out there which celebrate these patriotic heroes.