The Age of Airpower

The Age of Airpower

2.5 2
by Martin Van Creveld
     
 

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Airpower, more than any other factor, has shaped war in the twentieth century. In this fascinating narrative history, Martin van Creveld vividly portrays the rise of the plane as a tool of war and the evolution of both technology and strategy. He documents seminal battles and turning points, and relates stories of individual daring and collective mastery of the skies.

Overview

Airpower, more than any other factor, has shaped war in the twentieth century. In this fascinating narrative history, Martin van Creveld vividly portrays the rise of the plane as a tool of war and the evolution of both technology and strategy. He documents seminal battles and turning points, and relates stories of individual daring and collective mastery of the skies.

However, the end of airpower's glorious age is drawing near. The conventional wisdom to the contrary, modern precision guided munitions have not made fighter bombers more effective against many kinds of targets than their predecessors in World War II. U.S. ground troops calling for air support in Iraq in 2003 did not receive it any faster than Allied forces did in France in 1944. And from its origins on, airpower has never been very effective against terrorists, guerrillas, and insurgents. As the warfare waged by these kinds of people grow in importance, and as ballistic missiles, satellites, cruise missiles and drones increasingly take the place of quarter-billion-dollar manned combat aircraft and their multi-million-dollar pilots, airpower is losing utility almost day by day.

Editorial Reviews

Michael Beschloss
As Martin van Creveld shows in this brisk, original and authoritative history, since its zenith during World War II, when two United States B-29s ended the global struggle by dropping their payloads on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the value of air power has largely fizzled. McGeorge Bundy observed in 1988, after his own harsh experience as an architect of the Vietnam War, that the "surgical airstrike" deserved its name because surgery is bloody, messy and never final. Van Creveld would emphatically agree, and The Age of Airpower demonstrates the difficulty of winning a modern war from the skies.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Air power has been at the cutting edge of 20th-century war. Its story is most often told from a triumphalist perspective. Van Creveld, professor emeritus of history at Hebrew University, Jerusalem, acknowledges air power's past glory with his usual blend of perception and panache. He then tells the rest of the story—the part air power enthusiasts neglect. Even in its heyday, air power's achievements were limited: armies and navies did not disappear. For more than half a century, air power's operational effectiveness has been limited by thermonuclear weapons at one end of the spectrum and low-intensity conflict at the other. Air forces are whipsawed between the growing demand of publics and governments that war be waged with minimal casualties, and a limited number of targets. But as the cost and complexity of aircraft metastasize, they are no longer expendable assets. Yet the very cultures of air forces are eroding, as pilots become increasingly passive aboard their computer-directed, ground-controlled aircraft rather than flying them. Van Creveld's suggestion that helicopters and drones represent air power's future is extreme, but cannot be dismissed as a flight of fancy. (May)
From the Publisher

Kirkus, January 15, 2011

“A polished, readable narrative.”

New York Times Book Review, April 24, 2011

“As Martin van Creveld shows in this brisk, original and authoritative history, since it’s zenith during World War II, when two United States B-29s ended the global struggle by dropping their payloads on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the value of air power has largely fizzled…I hope that this spring, van Creveld’s timely book will remind NATO leaders supervising the bombing campaign in the Libyan civil war of how often in history we have watched air power lead unexpectedly to ground fighting on quicksand.”

 
Library Journal

“A brilliantly formulated, exhaustively researched, and engagingly written critique of America’s once vaunted military service, this is sure to arouse much controversy among interested parties.”
 
Foreign Affairs, May/June 2011

“A new book from Van Creveld is always something to be savored.  There have been many previous histories of airpower, but none so comprehensive and sensitive to context as this one.”
 
Cleveland Plain Dealer, May 17, 2011

“Martin van Creveld's new book is sure to enlighten….[It] comprehensively surveys the rise and evolution of aerial warfare from the dawn of the 20th century to our own day. No conflict or air-power variant seems to have escaped van Creveld's formidable attention. He covers naval aviation, helicopters, remotely piloted vehicles ("drones") and space. This volume, like the others produced by van Creveld, deserves a place on the bookshelf of any serious student of military affairs.”
 
New York Times, April 30, 2011

"Martin van Creveld’s work is always worth reading. 'The Age of Airpower' is equal parts historical survey, idiosyncratic editorializing, and bold prediction. Airpower advocates and critics alike need to engage with this book."

CHOICE, August 2011

“Morozov (contributing editor, Foreign Policy) takes on the "Google Doctrine," the enthusiastic belief in the liberating power of technology to promote democracy and improve human life. He rightly points out that technology is almost always a double-edged sword guided by the hopes and fears of users and regulators more than by the inherent characteristics of the technology itself. He provides numerous examples of how authoritarian regimes have used technology to track people, thwarting privacy and basic freedoms. By pointing out that social problems are seldom, if ever, "solved" by technology and that building public policy around technological fixes diverts attention from the root causes, the book is a good antidote to the optimistic technological determinists.”

Midwest Book Review, June 2011

“No military collection should be without this”
 
Survival: Global Politics and Strategy, August/September 2011
The latest opus by Martin van Creveld, one of the leading contemporary theorists of military affairs, is a massive (500 pages) and comprehensive compendium on air power. A work of history more than of theory, this fact rich book is written in an unadorned, plain style, punctuated by occasional bouts of the author’s trademark wit. The Age of Airpower succeeds… whatever one thinks of the author’s main thesis.”
 
Airforce Magazine

“Van Creveld does a creditable job surveying the broad and complex history of airpower in military operations.”

CHOICE, November 2011

“Valuable…highly recommended.”

Marine Corps Gazette, January 2011

“When Martin van Creveld speaks, people listen. His thoughtful works on military theory and history continually seek to challenge conventional wisdom. His insights and arguments are profound and substantial enough that even if one does not agree, they cannot be dismissed; they must be countered. Van Creveld’s latest book, The Age of Airpower, is another such work. [It] expertly and effectively continues Van Creveld’s work of championing transformation, challenging militaries to think about what they are designed to do vice what they are actually doing—the threats they prepare for versus the threats they are actually facing and/or are likely to face….A must-read.”

Library Journal
This landmark study chronicles both the technological and the strategic evolution of combat aircraft from the Italo-Turkish War (1911–12) to the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Van Creveld (history, emeritus, Hebrew Univ., Jerusalem) insists that airpower's golden years ended after 1945 owing to the growing costs of manned aircraft and personnel training. Other deterrents he points to were the dawning of the nuclear age and the displacement of piloted warplanes with ballistic missiles, earth-circling satellites, and drones. Yet such advances have known only moderate success in 21st-century engagements with insurgents and terrorists. In a final nostalgic lament the author decries the culture of social correctness imposed by Washington, the unsatisfying nature of asymmetrical warfare, and the passing of the combat pilot's sense of self-worth, as onboard technical advances have denied pilots personal mastery of their aircraft. VERDICT A brilliantly formulated, exhaustively researched, and engagingly written critique of America's once vaunted military service, this is sure to arouse much controversy among interested parties, so most libraries should have it on hand.—John Carver Edwards, Univ. of Georgia Libs., Cleveland

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781586489823
Publisher:
PublicAffairs
Publication date:
04/12/2011
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
512
File size:
3 MB

Meet the Author

Martin van Creveld is an internationally recognized authority on military history and strategy, and is professor emeritus of history at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. The author of eighteen books, translated into ten languages, he has lectured or taught at virtually every strategic institute, military or civilian, in the Western world, including the U.S. Naval War College.

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The Age of Airpower 2.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Book received in time, thanks
Anonymous More than 1 year ago