Academic journal article Military Review

PACIFIC AIR: How Fearless Flyboys, Peerless Aircraft, and Fast Flattops Conquered the Skies in the War with Japan

Academic journal article Military Review

PACIFIC AIR: How Fearless Flyboys, Peerless Aircraft, and Fast Flattops Conquered the Skies in the War with Japan

Article excerpt

PACIFIC AIR: How Fearless Flyboys, Peerless Aircraft, and Fast Flattops Conquered the Skies in the War with Japan, David Sears, Da Capo Press, Cambridge, MA, 2011, $27.50.

David Sears' Pacifi c Air is a work with fl aws that undermine the inherent interest and excitement that a book about aerial combat in World War II's Pacific Theater should generate. The book intertwines the development of the Grumman fighter and attack aircraft beginning in the early 1930s with the experiences of the prewar pilots who tested the planes and the wartime naval aviators who fl ew them into combat. Pacifi c Air is light on new knowledge about the Pacifi c campaign, but it offers a compelling, readable account of aerial combat based largely on memoirs and oral histories. Of interest is the development of tactical training among naval aviators, which allowed them to match and eventually surpass their Japanese foes.

Unfortunately, the book's strengths cannot fully offset its structure and content problems. Throughout, Sears over-relies on the gimmicky usage of in medias res to drum up excitement among readers. Instead of restricting the use of this device to the beginning of his chapters, he incorporates chronological jumps at multiple points within the same chapter. This constant shifting distracts from Sears' exciting narrative.

The bigger issue with Pacifi c Air is Sears' uneven coverage of the Pacifi c campaign. …

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