Air Power History Best Book Award for the Year 2008

Article excerpt

A three-member panel of judges chose as Best Air Power History Book for 2008 Donald Caldwell's and Richard Muller's The Luftwaffe Over Germany. The award is given annually after carefully considering and rating all of the books reviewed in the Foundation's journal, Air Power History, during the year. Criteria for selection call for the book to be of high quality, contribute to an understanding of air power, and for the author or authors to have had a connection to the U.S. Air Force or be a member of the Air Force Historical Foundation. Both of the authors are accomplished air power historians, and both of them have extensive experience in assessing the performance of the German Air Force during World War II. This year's competition was especially demanding, as several of the books nominated could have won, and all of them presented unique aspects of air power operations.

The Luftwaffe Over Germany describes how the German Air Force developed its capabilities through the course of World War II in the longest air defense battle ever fought. The Luftwaffe command charged with defending the German homeland included not only the air defense fighter arm, but also the network of ground based antiaircraft guns as well as the radar warning sites and the command network. This combination had to protect German industries, Germany's cities and their populations, and military installations from attacks by the bombers of the Royal Air Force and the United States Army Air Forces, and it nearly defeated the Americans in the late summer and fall of 1943.

The judges included Douglas Wright of San Jose, California, and Alfred Hurley and Lawrence Spinetta of the Air Force Historical Foundation. These three had a particularly difficult job, as several of the books considered scored highly. The runner-up in the judging was Steve Calls' Danger Close, a story of the Air Force's tactical air controllers in Afghanistan and Iraq. The importance of Danger Close is that it describes how the Air Force developed a way to deliver close air support, bringing air attacks on an enemy unit that is in direct combat with U.S. or allied ground forces. How to do this, and the Air Force's responsibility has been a matter of bitter contention between the Army and the Air Force since before World War II. …