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Retired Air Force colonel and military historian Boyne (Clash of the Titans, 1995, etc.) writes of the enormous changes in postwar US air power wrought by the chance of the Cold War turning hot. Boyne criticizes the rapid demobilization of our powerful armed forces after WW II and Truman's deep cuts in the defense budget. Boyne's hero is the WW II general Henry "Hap" Arnold, the visionary architect of air power and the advocate of constant technical research and development; he aggressively pushed for intense training, an action that made possible the air force of today. He credits our rapidly rebuilt air power with saving American and South Korean forces from defeat in the early days of the Korean War; argues that the Strategic Air Command was crucial in preventing nuclear war; and reminds us of the success of the Berlin airlift and other humanitarian efforts. Boyne's villain is former defense secretary Robert McNamara, whom he blames for losing the Vietnam War as a result of his arrogant disregard of military advice, but he is strangely uncritical of President Johnson, the commander-in-chief. He credits Nixon's bombing offensive with forcing North Vietnam to the peace table. Reagan's great increase in military budgets, and the subsequent growth of the air force, won the Cold War and the Gulf War, in his view. He sees today's air force as the best on the planet, reflecting "Hap" Arnold's vision and faith.
A comprehensive study of the development of the air force and a spirited argument for the necessity of long-term planning.