Flying Tigers
revised and updated

THE WARBIRD'S FORUM

A general who led from the front

The Panzer Killers is one of the best campaign histories I have ever read, and certainly the best I've read about the U.S. Army in Europe during the Second World War. I reviewed it for the Wall Street Journal and you should click on the link and read that review in full. Mr Bolger is himself a three-star general who in retirement has become a masterly historian. Here he tells what the sub-title promises is "The Untold Story of a Fighting General and His Spearhead Tank Division's Charge into the Third Reich." Sub-titles these days are full of hype, but this one is amply supported by the book. The general is Maurice Rose, born a Jew and indeed the son of a rabbi (and grandson of another!) whose grave in Belgium is marked by a cross, so little did he make of his religion. And he was indeed a fighting general, whose command post was called Omaha Forward, often enough so Far Forward that he tread on the heels of German panzers. Once he killed one enemy soldier and captured 12 others with his pistol; the next time, however, it was the Germans who killed him. Mr Bolger also goes a long way toward redeeming the U.S. Sherman heavy tank, too often reviled by historians who weren't there to see how well 3rd Armored Division tank crews fared against the panzers they usually encountered. When I worked for The Overseas Weekly years ago, I often traveled with 3rd Armored in maneuvers, and I am glad to know how they got their fighting name as The Spearhead. Really, you should read this book. I wish it had maps of the terrain, but otherwise I can't recommend it too highly.

Other good reading for June

Louis Menand is a Harvard professor and a regular contributor to The New Yorker, so he combines rigorous scholarship with brilliant writing. In The Free World: Art and Thought in the Cold War he tells the story of the golden years in America from victory in WW2 to the fall of Saigon. This was the world in which I grew up, so for me those 20 years bulk larger than the 46 years that have elapsed since we abandoned South Vietnam to be conquered in a blitzkrieg from the North. Mr Menand does this in 18 wondrous essays about books, music, painting, philosophy, student rebels and, well, gosh -- everything. He captures a generation in a way I've never seen equaled. (For more, and a personal note, see the Warbird's Book Club).

Fallen Tigers is an odd and rather scattershot book. The blurbs are ecstatic and the reviews are favorable or fawning, but it fails in its promise to detail "The Fate of America's Missing Airmen in China during World War II." And it's not really about the American Volunteer Group pilots who joined the Chinese Air Force in the summer and fall of 1941, except a few who later turned up as part of the USAAF squadrons that went to China in 1942. For more, see the Annals of the Flying Tigers Blue skies! — Daniel Ford

Welcome to the forum!

Here are a thousand or so files on airplanes, pilots, and the wars of the past hundred years, grouped under these headings:

Annals of the Flying Tigers
Annals of the Brewster Buffalo
Annals of Poland: war and exile, 1939-1948
Japan at War, 1931-1945
Annals of the Chinese Air Force
Glen Edwards and the Flying Wing
Remembering Bluie West One
Annals of Vietnam
War in the Modern World

Plus these excellent places to look for more: