The general in charge of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Curtis Emerson LeMay witnessed the beginning of the age of nuclear weaponry. As commander of the Strategic Air Command during the Cold War, he saw its consequences in the escalating tension with Russia and his campaigns in North and South Korea. Tillman (author of 40 books including Warriors) calls LeMay one of "the chilliest of cold war Republicans," having made the dubious choice to become the 1968 running mate of segregationist George Wallace. Though LeMay claimed to have joined the campaign out of concern for opponent Richard Nixon's foreign policy, the move permanently damaged his reputation. "It is not recorded that anyone ever accused Curtis LeMay of charisma," observes Tillman, adding, "Perhaps no other American military leader of the 20th century was so successful without possessing a charismatic personality." That may help explain why the book includes significantly more discussion of B-29s and B-52s than it does anecdotes or direct quotes that illustrate LeMay's character or personal life. Well informed and clear, this somewhat dry account will interest air force enthusiasts, though LeMay's charmlessness is unlikely to win over many casual readers. (Feb.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
“Mr. Tillman finds much to admire in LeMay, a general who led his own bomber missions and was more familiar with flying equipment than his own men.” Carl Rollyson, The New York Sun
“[Tillman] retrieves some of the enduring lessons of leadership that can be learned from one of America's greatest airmen...[and] skillfully blends elements from LeMay's personal and professional lives with the historical, providing a remarkably nuanced appreciation for this greatest of bomber generals.” Naval War College Review
“A good start for anyone unfamiliar with this most influential airman of World War II.” Clayton Chun, WWII
“He was the nation's top bomber hero. Yet Curtis E. LeMay is often portrayed as one-dimensional--a gruff, cigar-chomping brute. The man who defined combat leadership in the European war, wielded the B-29 Superfortress against Japan, and shaped the postwar Strategic Air Command, was far more complex than his detractors claim. Barrett Tillman, one of America's top history writers, gives us an authentic feel for LeMay and for the way LeMay left his mark on the twentieth century.” Robert F. Dorr, author of Air Combat and columnist for the Air Force Times
“A brilliant book! Barrett Tillman describes the true magnitude of LeMay's achievements, while rendering the first posthumous biography of a complex, controversial figure. Objective and beautifully written, this portrait of history's greatest air commander is an absolute must for every aviation or military historian and for anyone interested in leadership.” Walter J. Boyne, author of Roaring Thunder and former Director, National Air & Space Museum
“Thorough, balanced, and insightful, Barrett Tillman's masterful biography of Curtis LeMay is a long-overdue and thought-provoking study, one certain to become a standard reference on the life and work of America's most famous and controversial combat bomber commander.” Dr. Richard P. Hallion, Aviation Historian, author of Taking Flight: Inventing the Aerial Age from Antiquity Through the First World War