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Posted October 10, 2009
Excellent rework of an outstanding original.
The first edition was the definitive history of the American Volunteer Group, and with further research the second edition is even better. When first published, this work stirred bitter controversy among former AVG members due to it's assertions (backed up by research) that the AVG overclaimed victories (like every other combat air force in every other conflict) and that the AVG never faced the Mitsubishi "Zero" fighter (they didn't; there were no Zeroes or any other Navy planes in their area of operation. Like everyone else in those days, they misidentified the Army's very similar Ki.43 as Zeroes.)
Further research using original sources has refined the new edition's position on the AVG's kill claims. Interestingly, presumably as a result of contacts with former AVG personnel, Ford backs off from a couple things he maintained in the first edition. In the first edition Ford wrote that the term "Flying Tigers" was a media creation, unknown to the men of the AVG (who, he wrote, referred to themselves simply as "AVGs") until they returned to the US. In the new edition he mentions how Walt Disney's company developed the Flying Tiger logo for the AVG and he presents photos of AVG planes wearing the decal markings provided by Disney. He also mentions that some AVG personnel were quite miffed when the U.S. Army's 23rd Fighter Group adopted the Flying Tigers name, clearly indicating that the AVG men were familiar with the term while they were still in Asia, and claimed it as their own.
In the first edition Ford wrote that one of the AVG's squadron was slow to begin scoring against the Japanese because its commander "didn't want to fight." Nothing like this appears in the new edition.
I strongly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in the American Volunteer Group or air combat in the early months of the Pacific War. Because of the expanded and updated material, this book is worthwhile even for readers who have the original edition.
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what's with that sample chapter?
The B&N store attaches a sample chapter for 'Flying Tigers' that seems to come out of a bad contemporary novel. This book actually begins as follows:
'The man behind the Flying Tigers was born in Commerce, Texas, on September 6, 1893-or was he? Commerce is right, though there's no documentary proof of Claire Lee Chennault's birth there or anywhere else. As the story is told, his father left Louisiana after a horse trader tried to sell him an unbroken mustang as good farm stock. Mr. Chennault shot a hole through the man's hat, and a sojourn in Texas was thought advisable while the matter cooled.'
Blue skies! -- Dan Ford
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Posted November 4, 2011
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