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Race of Aces: WWII's Elite Airmen and the Epic Battle to Become the Master of the Sky Kindle Edition
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In 1942, America's deadliest fighter pilot, or "ace of aces" -- the legendary Eddie Rickenbacker -- offered a bottle of bourbon to the first U.S. fighter pilot to break his record of twenty-six enemy planes shot down. Seizing on the challenge to motivate his men, General George Kenney promoted what they would come to call the "race of aces" as a way of boosting the spirits of his war-weary command.
What developed was a wild three-year sprint for fame and glory, and the chance to be called America's greatest fighter pilot. The story has never been told until now.
Based on new research and full of revelations, John Bruning's brilliant, original book tells the story of how five American pilots contended for personal glory in the Pacific while leading Kenney's resurgent air force against the most formidable enemy America ever faced.
The pilots -- Richard Bong, Tommy McGuire, Neel Kearby, Charles MacDonald and Gerald Johnson -- riveted the nation as they contended for Rickenbacker's crown. As their scores mounted, they transformed themselves from farm boys and aspiring dentists into artists of the modern dogfight.
But as the race reached its climax, some of the pilots began to see how the spotlight warped their sense of duty. They emerged as leaders, beloved by their men as they chose selfless devotion over national accolades.
Teeming with action all across the vast Pacific theater, Race of Aces is a fascinating exploration of the boundary between honorable duty, personal glory, and the complex landscape of the human heart.
"Brings you into the cockpit of the lethal, fast-paced world of fighter pilots . . . Fascinating." -- Sara Vladic"Extraordinary . . . a must-read." -- US Navy Captain Dan Pedersen"A heart-pounding narrative of the courage, sacrifice, and tragedy of America's elite fighter pilots." -- James M. Scott"Vivid and gripping . . . Confirms Bruning's status as the premier war historian of the air." -- Saul David
"Race of Aces fascinates because of its attention to detail and strong characterization of these remarkable men."
―The Wall Street Journal
"Race of Aces brings you into the cockpit of the lethal, fast-paced world of fighter pilots as they strive to achieve ace-level status...Bruning's unique and intimate look at the struggles of these men to balance honor, duty to country, and their pursuit to be the best makes this account even more fascinating. This is a book you can't put down, and a story you will reflect upon long after turning the last page."―Sara Vladic, New York Times bestselling coauthor of Indianapolis
"[Bruning] crafts vivid profiles of the Army Air Forces fight pilots... their struggles, both personal and military, are movingly told....Exquisitely polished prose alternately describes the dog-fighting above remote jungles and relationships with sweethearts back home. Prodigious digging into mission reports, old newspaper dispatches, diaries and correspondence plus extensive interviews of survivors and family members contribute to a sweeping narrative that is likely to be the definitive history of the Rickenbacker-inspired contest. Highly recommended."―Philip Handleman, Aviation History
"Race of Aces is a superb read, taking us through the high-stakes world of our great Aces and the WWII air war...Extraordinary. Wear your G suit and hang on -- this must-read will become a classic."―Dan Pedersen, Founder of the Topgun program and bestselling author of Topgun: An American Story
"The riveting and emotional story of five American fighter pilots caught up in a deadly competition to claim the title of our nation's Ace of Aces, this book is so powerfully written that you can almost smell the engine exhaust and feel the G-forces in those furious dogfights. Race of Aces is quite simply is one of the best books ever written on World War II and cements Bruning's place as one of our generation's best combat historians."―David Bellavia, Medal of Honor Recipient and author of House to House: A Soldier's Memoir
"In Race of Aces, John R. Bruning brilliantly recreates the excitement and terror of one of the greatest untold stories of World War II: the nerve-shredding three-year contest to become America's deadliest fighter pilot. Exhaustively researched and expertly written -- with dogfights as vivid and gripping as any I've read -- the book confirms Bruning's status as the premier war historian of the air."―Saul David, author of The Force and Operation Thunderbolt
"A heart-pounding narrative of the courage, sacrifice, and tragedy of America's elite fighter pilots during World War II. With a cockpit view of the fight, readers will hear the roar of the engines, feel the surge of adrenaline, and wrestle with the exhaustion that gripped these aviators in the marathon battle to become America's top fighter pilot."―James M. Scott, Pulitzer Prize finalist and bestselling author of Target Tokyo and Rampage
“Enthralling… Part five-sided biography, part adventure tale, part reflection on the price of fame, John Bruning’s story of the fighter jocks who chased glory is a fantastic read. Paced like a novel and filled with characters and exploits straight out of blockbuster movies, Race of Aces could be mistaken for the stuff of fiction. That its cast of Pacific theater Army Air Corps flyers—Bong, McGuire, Kearby, MacDonald, Johnson—may be relatively unknown to navalists more familiar with Vraciu and McCampbell adds to the air of the unbelievable. However, these men and their feats of derring-do were very real, and in Race of Aces they are brought to life by Bruning’s meticulous research and smooth prose….[F]ast-paced, well researched, exciting, engrossing, sobering….The book is a page-turner in the truest sense and captures the relentless pace of aerial combat in the Pacific, while contrasting it with the victors’ surreal return home and the toll of relentless war on the pilots who fought it.”―U.S. Naval Institute
"A fascinating book."―"Constant Wonder," BYURadio
"With deft, grit, and no shying away from the horrifying realities of war, Bruning...brings these heroes back to life, defining the struggles of morality, mortality, and glory that suffused their careers....[R]ich with historical information, Race of Aces reads like a novel and features interactions with figures such as Eddie Rickenbacker and Charles Lindbergh. Bruning's suspenseful storytelling utilizes personal interviews with U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) veterans, oral histories, archives, military history agencies, and letters/diaries written by the aces themselves....Eloquent and finely researched."―Library Journal (starred review)
"Satisfying...Combat aviation buffs will enjoy Bruning's explorations of a little-known history."―Kirkus Reviews --This text refers to the paperback edition.
About the Author
- ASIN : B07RGJPJXY
- Publisher : Hachette Books; Illustrated edition (January 14, 2020)
- Publication date : January 14, 2020
- Language : English
- File size : 33364 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 554 pages
- Page numbers source ISBN : 0316508632
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #172,638 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in the United States on February 12, 2020
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John Bruning has written a fantastic book about these five men (albeit with a bit more emphasis on Bong and Johnson) and how the competition to first surpass Eddie Rickenbacker's World War I victory total of 26, and then be the highest scoring American of World War II, consumed some of them and became a major story in newspapers across the United States. Most of the previous books I'd read about these pilots focused more on the facts about their numbers of victories and had virtually nothing about the more human sides of all of them. Bruning looks at each one in detail, with Bong and Johnson being a bit more detailed, and gives background on their upbringing, personalities, families, training and how they ended up competing against one another in the skies over New Guinea and the Philippines. For Bong and Johnson there is much detail about their early flight training and their love of the special women waiting back home for them in the U.S.
From the early days of flying P-39 and P-40 fighters to the later days of P-47 and P-38 supremacy, this book focuses mainly on a few fighter groups and squadrons, and is a bit of a love letter to the P-38 Lightning. Since the P-38 was the plane which four of the five pilots profiled flew the majority of the time, it's story is an integral part of their stories as well. The P-38 was my father's favorite plane from World War II and this made the book a bit more special to me.
Unfortunately, this book doesn't have a happy ending for four of the five pilots, something which they all deserved and which they fought so hard to achieve. Bruning's book is a wonderful tribute to these five heroes (and several others) and belongs in the library of anyone interested in the 5th Air Force, American aces and/or the war in the Southwest Pacific. Truly an excellent read.
Richard Bong (40)
The author provides great detail in the individual motivation and approach by the individual ace himself, the promotional behavior of Army Air Force commanders, living conditions, aircraft detail and much, much more. Further, the activity and thoughts of Charles Lindberg who wangled his way into the theater as a technical representative for an aircraft company. What I found to be particularly impressive is the author appeared to make a no-holds-barred attempt not to sugar-coat the behavior of the individual. For example, I have read in the past how the acerbic personality of McGuire alienated those around him but was surprised to see the "real " Lindberg as a petty, vindictive character that condemned the behavior of most (it appeared) pilots. I am keeping this book to read again in the future.
General George Kenney was given command of the Army Air Forces in the South Pacific in 1942. It was his job to jump start the pilots and systematically eliminate Japanese air power in the theater. With the arrival of the P-38 Lightning fighter, the Americans finally possessed a plane that could out-duel the Japanese. For the next two-plus years, men such as Dick Bong, Tommy McGuire, Neel Kearby, Charles MacDonald, Gerald Johnson, and Tom Lynch ran up impressive scores of enemy planes destroyed. People back home became riveted to the "Ace Race".
But this race came with a cost, as some pilots soon began worrying about their own scores rather than safety. Some were killed. In the end, several pilots passed Rickenbacker's score, with Bong the all-time leader with 40 kills. McGuire finished a close second with 38.
I greatly enjoyed this great book. Thoroughly researched, Bruning brings the aerial action in the South Pacific to life. The reader really gets to know each of the American pilots, including McGuire, who had few friends but was a demon in the air to Bong, who finished with 40 kills but also lacked friends on the ground. Fans of World War II aerial battles won't want to miss this one. Highly, highly recommended.