This was the first book to cover all of Cold War air combat in the words of the men who waged it. In I Always Wanted to Fly, retired United States Air Force Colonel Wolfgang W. E. Samuel has gathered first-person memories from heroes of the cockpits and airstrips.
Battling in dogfights when jets were novelties, saving lives in grueling airlifts, or flying covert and dangerous reconnaissance missions deep into Soviet and Chinese airspace, these flyers waged America's longest and most secretively conducted air war.
Many of the pilots Samuel interviewed invoke the same sentiment when asked why they risked their lives in the air-"I always wanted to fly." While young, they were inspired by barnstormers, by World War I fighter legends, by the legendary Charles Lindbergh, and often just by seeing airplanes flying overhead. With the advent of World War II, many of these dreamers found themselves in cockpits soon after high school. Of those who survived World War II, many chose to continue following their dream, flying the Berlin Airlift, stopping the North Korean army during the "forgotten war" in Korea, and fighting in the Vietnam War.
Told in personal narratives and reminiscences, I Always Wanted to Fly renders views from pilots' seats and flight decks during every air combat flashpoint from 1945 to 1968. Drawn from long exposure to the immense stress of warfare, the stories these warriors share are both heroic and historic. The author, a veteran of many secret reconnaissance missions, evokes individuals and scenes with authority and grace. He provides clear, concise historical context for each airman's memories. In I Always Wanted to Fly, he has produced both a thrilling and inspirational acknowledgment of personal heroism and a valuable addition to our documentation of the Cold War.
Such a consideration of the Cold War–as a military event with sociopolitical and economic overtones–is the crux of this stellar collection of twenty-six essays compiled and edited by Robert Cowley, the longtime editor of MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History. Befitting such a complex and far-ranging period, the volume’s contributing writers cover myriad angles. John Prados, in “The War Scare of 1983,” shows just how close we were to escalating a war of words into a nuclear holocaust. Victor Davis Hanson offers “The Right Man,” his pungent reassessment of the bellicose air-power zealot Curtis LeMay as a man whose words were judged more critically than his actions.
The secret war also gets its due in George Feiffer’s “The Berlin Tunnel,” which details the charismatic C.I.A. operative “Big Bill” Harvey’s effort to tunnel under East Berlin and tap Soviet phone lines–and the Soviets’ equally audacious reaction to the plan; while “The Truth About Overflights,” by R. Cargill Hall, sheds light on some of the Cold War’s best-kept secrets.
The often overlooked human cost of fighting the Cold War finds a clear voice in “MIA” by Marilyn Elkins, the widow of a Navy airman, who details the struggle to learn the truth about her husband, Lt. Frank C. Elkins, whose A-4 Skyhawk disappeared over Vietnam in 1966. In addition there are profiles of the war’s “front lines”–Dien Bien Phu, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Bay of Pigs–as well as of prominent military and civil leaders from both sides, including Harry S. Truman, Nikita Khrushchev, Dean Acheson, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Richard M. Nixon, Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap, and others.
Encompassing so many perspectives and events, The Cold War succeeds at an impossible task: illuminating and explaining the history of an undeclared shadow war that threatened the very existence of humankind.
From the Hardcover edition.
Dwight D. Eisenhower achieved prominence as a military leader during World War II and as a statesman following the conflict, but less is known about his ambitions and preparation between the wars that served as the foundation for his later success. The first modern analysis of Eisenhower's career before his rise to fame, this study examines Ike's intellectual ideas concerning politics, military strategy, and history in the decades between the wars. Holland details Eisenhower's quest to make himself the best officer in the U.S. Army and to prepare for the next war--which he firmly believed was coming.
Based upon the voluminous collection at the Eisenhower Library, this book includes discussion of Eisenhower's intellectual development, family life, military education, the roles of mentors and friends, as well as his political and international experiences. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Ike labored thanklessly in an army marked by budget cuts and incompetence. Despite this atmosphere, he persevered to become a pioneer in mechanized and aerial warfare, the author of an official history of World War I, the creator of the first industrial mobilization plan in American history, a one man public relations section for the War Department, and the organizer of the Philippine army. Through it all, Ike remained a man with a big heart, a man equally able to work with presidents or privates without losing his common touch.
Plotting a True Course: Reflections on USAF Strategic Attack Theory and Doctrine : the Post-World War II Experience
Examining wars from the allied victory in World War II to the conflict in Viet Nam, and finally to the operations in the Gulf and Kosovo, this book presents a comprehensive look at the evolution of strategic air attack theory and doctrine over the years.
An examination of Holland Smith's career in the Marine Corps follows its evolution from an insular constabulary at the turn of the 20th century to a juggernaut, landing American troops island by island in vital amphibious engagements up to 1945. Serving in important assignments from the Philippines to China to Latin America, Smith became deeply involved in the development of amphibious strategy and tactics, as well as in the creation of proper landing craft by the early 1930s. After Pearl Harbor, the Marines would turn to him to plan and lead operations in the Gilberts, the Marianas, and the Volcano Islands, culminating in the epic operation at Iwo Jima. Venzon details the life of this quiet, modest man who, she contends, deliberately cultivated the persona of an irascible, unreasonable perfectionist, in an effort to do everything possible to protect the Marines under his command.
Smith braved malaria and dengue fever in the Philippines, sailed through the backwaters of post-Manchu China, and fought in the earliest banana wars in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. After World War I, he was the first Marine to attend the General Staff College at Langres, and from then on became am important member of 4th Marine Brigade Staff, and later on the staff of the army's I Corps. Here, he learned that war in the new century would be as much about planning, logistics, communications, and intelligence as it was about brute force. Upon his return to the United States, he attended both the Naval War College and the Marine Corps Command and Staff College. By 1940, he commanded the First Marine Division. His deliberately explosive behavior, however, would ultimately push him out of the circle of legendary World War II leaders.