Customer Reviews for

Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2004

    Exciting, informative and inspiring

    For anyone interested in military aviation and specifically, how a fighter pilot conducts himself in the heat of battle, this book is full of excitement and facts not to be found elsewhere. John Boyd's intellectual sense of how he most expertly interacted with the physics of fighter combat is startling. Rarely does a man skilled in the craft also delve so deeply into the intellectual and theoretical core of it. Although this book is the story of the development of a scientific thought, it has a pace of action and adventure that kept me flipping pages. Perhaps it was the adversity Boyd encountered and his willingness to risk everything for the not only the pursuit of truth, which can be a private matter, but the victory of truth which invariably pits man against man. Anyone who has engaged in a fight for the truth will be inspired by Boyd¿s example. The telling of Boyd¿s personal side, objectively and with some sensitivity, is refreshing and honest. If you have known a driven man of outstanding accomplishments, you understand that such men are often driven by some personal demons, and not always pleasant to friends and family (I have). They require a measure of perspective to be appreciated. It appears that John Boyd was such a man. In the telling of that part of his story, Coram quite possibly has provided a key to understanding for those of us who are fortunate enough to both be inspired and be stung occasionally, by such men. Regarding Kurt Plummer¿s review here, Barnes and Noble should simply remove it. The review is a collection of unsupported slander and bears no relationship to the quality or the accuracy of the telling of the story of John Boyd. Finally, in this time of world conflict, where every American is acutely aware of our military, the story of John Boyd is inspiring. Here was a man who devoted himself to making the United States of America militarily superior to all others. He did it not for money, nor did he receive professional reward or thanks in equal measure to his contributions. He simply did what was best no matter what the cost. In the story of John Boyd we get a rare insight into the mind and heart of a man with whom we can imagine standing shoulder to shoulder, with never a fear of desertion no matter the odds.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2012

    A must read

    For anyone interested in truly thinking "outside the box" & the ramifications of trailblazing

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  • Posted July 5, 2009

    Great Read

    Having spent 14 years in the Air Force, I can relate to all the B.S.that goes on in the book. Once I started reading this book I could not put it down! If you really want to know about what goes on in the Pentagon and what contributions John Boyd made, and not just to aviation, and what this unsung hero and his acolytes did to make sure the military got the best equipment, then this book is a must read! You wont be disappointed!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2002

    Key book for "warriors" and "maneuverists"

    Robert Coram has written an important book in ¿Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War¿ ¿ but, as in Colonel Boyd himself, a book showing both brilliance and limitations. As a member of the U.S. Army¿s reserve components since 1983, a former Pentagon political appointee from 1986 to 88, and a defense consultant since 1991, I¿ve had the opportunity see or participate in much of Colonel Boyd impacted. I bought Coram¿s book because I vividly remember spending a couple of days getting the ¿full brief¿ from Colonel Boyd back in 1987 in a dilapidated brick building in Washington, not far from Union Station. My Pentagon boss sent me to the briefing which was delivered by Col. Boyd and at least one of his ¿Acolytes.¿ About ten people attended. At the time, I had no idea of Boyd¿s significance ¿ the briefing did, however, make a lasting impression on me. Its two most salient concepts were the now-famous O-O-D-A Loop and Boyd¿s ¿To be or to do¿ speech (a heavy concept for a 24-year-old political idealist). The book has three main thrusts: Boyd¿s theories (mostly on conflict); Boyd¿s battles against the Pentagon¿s acquisition system; and Boyd¿s personal life. That Colonel Boyd had an unusually keen insight into the nature of human conflict should not be in dispute. His foremost contribution to art of war is a time-based view of warfare ¿ the Observe Orient Decide Act (OODA) Loop. This book provides the context for how the author of the OODA Loop created it and worked tirelessly to get it into the hands of those who would apply it ¿ it does not (nor should it) go in to detail as to how to apply it in combat. The book discusses Boyd¿s other theories and how they came to be as well. Boyd¿s first breakthrough was ¿Energy-Maneuverability¿ or E-M Theory ¿ a theory that changed fighter aircraft design (and which has an interesting tangential relationship to the OODA Loop). His most purely intellectual theory was ¿Destruction and Creation,¿ a theory that purports to explain the way individuals and groups think and process reality in order to ¿improve their capacity for independent action.¿ This theory ambitiously attempts to tie together human behavior with the Second Law of Thermodynamics, Godel, Heisenberg, and Planck ¿ heady stuff for a fighter pilot from Erie. Colonel Boyd¿s battles against the Pentagon¿s acquisition system ¿ especially the U.S. Air Force and its F-15, F-16, F-111, and B-1 programs are a little more problematic. It is here that Mr. Coram might have used a bit more perspective and a little more skepticism in questioning the motives of some of the ¿Military Reform Caucus¿ members (most of whom simply wanted to spend less money on the Pentagon because they did not see the Soviet Union as a threat worth defeating). U.S. weapons systems are indeed complex and very expensive. We Americans have the luxury of trading capital for blood and we (and the parents of soldiers, sailors, pilots and Marines) are all too happy to spend heavily on the one to save on the other. True, weapons systems are typically designed by committees, take too long to field, and often cost more than advertised ¿ but can anyone dispute the technical supremacy of American arms the world over? Many of the acquisition problems cited in the book were caused by the Pentagon¿s early adaptation of computer technology before such technology became commercialized, reliable, and cheap. Even so, can anyone dispute that one B-2 bomber dropping one 2,000-lb smart bomb to destroy one bridge is superior to using 100 B-52s in a raid dropping thousands of dumb bombs to accomplish the same military effect (while killing half of the adjacent city¿s population in the process)? In addition, Mr. Corum uses manipulates statistics to back up his claims. At one point he cites the cost of the B-1 bomber when cancelled by President Carter as $167 million a copy, then growing to $287 million when President Reagan restarted the p

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2003

    Totally agree

    I recently received this book and have read it almost non stop until I finished it. Most interesting book. John Boyd was an instructor when I attended the Fighter Weapons School at Nellis in the F100 in 1959. In the pictures I am in the back row two heads right of the FWS logo on the wall. Great man even in those days before he went to Georgia Tech for his advanced degree. Was a priviledge to have known him and to have flown with him. Mel Elliott, Lt Col USAF Retired.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2003

    Great Storyteller with a knack for making history enjoyable!

    Coram relays the story of John Boyd's life with energy and respect. He is truly a wonderfull story teller and leaves very little out of this in depth look at the accomplishments and challenges he faced throughout his life. His military carrer was frustrating for him at times, and Coram lets the reader know about all of Boyd's personal and social achievments as well as his personal flaws. From his personal life and childhood through his military carrer and his following years, John Boyd led a life unlike any other. While Robert Coram has portrayed a fantastic revival of Boyd's life he can be repeatative at times and presents certain aspects of Boyd's life in a "golden unflawless" light, ignoring the hidden issues surrounding Boyd throughout many parts of his life All things considered, this work is a MUST READ for any aviation or military enthusiast. Poviding a new and insightful glance at one of the Airforce's largest contributor to new ideas and information regarding military strategy, and fighter aircraft design and development!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2002

    A Fascinating Portrayal of John Boyd

    "BOYD: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War" is an extremely well written book that was a real pleasure to read. This book details the life and work of John Boyd, the leading defense reformer and a man that made a diference. It is apparent from reading this book that John Boyd was a true patriot, a man with personal integrity and a selfless interest in serving his country. Although I never met John Boyd, I feel that I now know him very well after reading this vivid portrayal. Robert Coram obviously spent a tremendous amount of time in performing the research for and writing this book. The extensive list of personal sources cited in the book certainly indicate that the author captured Boyd's essence, warts and all.

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