Fire in the Sky: The Air War in the South Pacific

By Eric M. Bergerud | Go to book overview

SOURCES AND BIBLIOGRAPHY

This book is based primarily upon the contributions of American, Australian, and New Zealand veterans of the South Pacific air war. I interviewed most of the veterans personally. Others corresponded with me or sent audiotapes, letters, and other written material describing their experiences. Without exception the men involved were candid, self-effacing, and eloquent. Although these former fighting men were describing events that occurred more than a half-century ago, their memories were crystal-clear.

In the spring of 1994 I spent several weeks at the archives at Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, while researching a previous book. While there I photocopied hundreds of after-action reports and other contemporary documents relating to different aspects of the air war, particularly for operations in the Solomons. They were invaluable sources in themselves and served to confirm the overall validity of retrospective accounts given by the participants. In the in-text notes I refer to these documents as the "Maxwell Documents."

I also relied heavily upon the official histories commissioned by the United States and Australia. The volumes published by the U.S. Army are among the most important books written about World War II. They are cautious and objective, and display excellent scholarship throughout. Although the combat volumes were important to my research, works concerning logistics, ordnance, and the medical effort proved invaluable. Australian official histories are likewise splendid sources; although somewhat partisan in approach, they are vigorous, elegant, and accurate. American scholars should make much more use of them than is the case. All of the official histories served to corroborate the essential accuracy of testimony given to me by individual veterans. Below I also list the secondary works that were most important to my research.

I relied heavily upon the Strategic Bombing Survey -- Pacific, compiled in the two years after the war by the United States military. I approached this source with caution because it was marked by haste and the political atmosphere created by the negotiations surrounding the Armed Forces Reorganization Act, which undoubtedly colored many of the conclusions. Yet much of the information contained in the SBS is unique and of tremendous value. Overall the survey remains an indispensable source for serious study of the Pacific War.

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