The Icarus Syndrome: The Role of Air Power Theory in the Evolution and Fate of the U.S. Air Force

Hardcover (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $15.00
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 70%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (6) from $15.00   
  • New (4) from $68.07   
  • Used (2) from $15.00   
Sort by
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Note: Marketplace items are not eligible for any coupons and promotions
Seller since 2008

Feedback rating:



New — never opened or used in original packaging.

Like New — packaging may have been opened. A "Like New" item is suitable to give as a gift.

Very Good — may have minor signs of wear on packaging but item works perfectly and has no damage.

Good — item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Acceptable — item is in working order but may show signs of wear such as scratches or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Used — An item that has been opened and may show signs of wear. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Refurbished — A used item that has been renewed or updated and verified to be in proper working condition. Not necessarily completed by the original manufacturer.


Ships from: Chicago, IL

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
Seller since 2005

Feedback rating:


Condition: New
1994 Hard cover New in new dust jacket. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 299 p. Audience: General/trade.

Ships from: San Marino, CA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
Seller since 2015

Feedback rating:


Condition: New
Brand new.

Ships from: acton, MA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
Seller since 2015

Feedback rating:


Condition: New
Brand new.

Ships from: acton, MA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Sort by


At the end of the Reagan era, many in the U.S. Air Force began to express their concerns about the health of their institution. They questioned whether the Air Force had lost its sense of direction, its confidence, its values, even its future. For some, these concerns reflected nothing more than the maturation of the most youthful of America's military institutions. For others it was a crisis of spirit that threatened the hard-won independence of the Air Force.

Although the diagnoses for this malaise are as numerous as its symptoms, The Icarus Syndrome points a finger at the abandonment of air power theory sometime in the late 1950s to early 1960s as the single, taproot cause of the problems. That provocative diagnosis is followed by an equally provocative prescription the Air Force must follow to regain its institutional health.

Author Carl H. Builder begins with an overview of this crisis of values within the Air Force, along with a litany of concerns about what seems to have gone wrong within that institution. The history of the U.S. Air Force, along with the role played in it by air power theory, is explored and is used to support Builder's thesis. The remainder of the book is an analysis of what went wrong and when, how these wrongs might be corrected, and the challenges for Air Force leadership in the future. Now available in paperback, The Icarus Syndrome will be of great interest to U.S. Air Force professionals, military and aviation historians, and institutional psychologists.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Builder became involved in this study in connection with work he was doing at the RAND Corporation for the USAF Air War College… What is remarkable about The Icarus Syndrome is that the USAF has finally sponsored a self-analysis that is readable in style and provocative in nature. Upper-division undergraduates and above.” —R. Higham,Choice "The juxtaposition of theory and the operational principles is superbly managed in the framework of the strategic questions about the future of air power.... This book is strongly recommended for those who think or should think in terms of shaping air and space power for the future." —Harry H. Almond, Jr., The Friday Review of Defense Literature "The Icarus Syndrome is an intellectually engaging work and particularly timely.... The author's conclusions are skillfully developed and clearly articulated." —Jeffrey C. Prater, Military Review "The Icarus Syndrome is about a vision and a theory. . . . [His] prophesies . . . are extremely interesting and reflect a lot of thought." —Gen. Bruce K. Holloway, USAF (Ret.), Strategic Review "There is a sense in this book—captured in the title—of underlying Air Force insecurity about its role and its capabilities." —Foreign Affairs "An important book which ought to be understood and debated. . . . [P]rovocative and, for many, convincing." —James A. Mowbray, Parameters
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781560001416
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/28/1994
  • Series: Rand Studies Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 299

Meet the Author

Carl H. Builder was a senior staff member at RAND, and specialized in strategy formation and analysis. He is the author of The Masks of War: American Military Styles in Strategy and Analysis, and wrote extensively on nuclear issues, the military, institutional analysis, and technological and societal futures.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Pt. I Taking Bearings 1
1 A View of the Air Force Today 3
2 Is There a Problem? 17
3 The Icarus Syndrome 27
Pt. II Creation 39
4 The Precursors 41
5 The Prophets 49
6 The Theory 59
7 Prophesy 69
Pt. III Exploitation 81
8 The Apostles 83
9 Founding the Church 97
10 The Test of Fire 107
11 The Practitioners 123
12 Breaking Free 133
13 Realization 145
Pt. IV Erosion 153
14 The Technology Janus 155
15 New Dimensions 165
16 Slow Fall from Grace 179
Pt. V Failure Analysis 191
17 Picking Up the Pieces 193
18 Crash Analysis 203
Pt. VI The Weather Ahead 217
19 Making Painful Choices 219
20 A Changing World 233
21 The New Security Environment 247
Pt. VII Setting the Compass 259
22 Mission Desiderata 261
23 From Mission to Vision 269
24 A Theory to Fly By 281
Index 293
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)