Race of Aces: WWII’s Elite Airmen and the Epic Battle To Become the Masters of the Sky

Hachette. Jan. 2020. 544p. ISBN 9780316508629. $30. HIST
Covering the rise of the Fifth Army Air Force, from low morale and unserviceable planes in New Guinea to the invasion of the Philippines and beyond, the race to become the greatest flying ace since World War I shows how every day, small-town Americans were molded into some of the greatest leaders and fighter pilots of the war. With deft, grit, and no shying away from the horrifying realities of war, Bruning (Indestructible) brings these heroes back to life, defining the struggles of morality, mortality, and glory that suffused their careers. On par with James Bradley’s Flyboys, and rich 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 to flesh out life in the Southwest Pacific and the fever pitch to both survive in theatre and become the best of the best.
VERDICT Eloquent and finely researched, this book will appeal to amateur historians or anyone interested in the USAAF and World War II maneuvers in the South Pacific.
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