By Bill Yenne
The subtitle is a basic summation of the contents of the book: The Heroic Saga of the Two Top-Scoring American Aces of World War II.
This book engagingly tells the story of Major Tommy McGuire and Major Dick Bong and their "Ace Race". But more than that, the author gives the reader insight into the lives and personalities of these two young men.
The story is broke into three sections, "Boys", "Warriors", and "Rememberance". The first section brings McGuire and Bong to the brink of war. The second section takes them through the war. Each chapter in this section is headed by a 'score card'--noting how many confirmed enemy planes they had shot down. The third section is post war, a remembering of these two top-aces.
When I started the book, I was thrilled to discover that these two young men flew my second favorite fighter plane; a P-38! I learned a lot about the planes themselves. In fact, before reading this book, I did not really know that P-38's were fighters, much less their amazing speed and mobility.
Stationed in the Pacific, America's two top aces were friends as well as 'rivals'. They were in different squadons and fighter groups at different times, though both served all their time in the Fifth Air Force. At times they flew together, at other times they were grounded. McGuire went through at least five planes--each one named Pudgy after his wife. (That was her nickname--her real name was Marilynn.)
Both had different methods of attack, but both were outstanding fighter pilots...
The author likens fighter pilot to the knights of old, the planes to the war horses. It is an interesting comparison, but actually rather fitting, as both knights and pilots are encased in steel, under them a powerful means of transporation.
There is hardly anything objectionable in this book. The only language is direct quotations from the men's letter's home.
I really enjoyed the book. It was both informative and engaging. I learned more about the structure of the USAAF from this book than I ever had any inkling of before.
I would recommend this book to those interested in WWII, the Pacific Theater, and old war birds.
A Reformed Presbyterian girl who enjoys a good movie or a good book any ol'
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