Monday, September 9, 2013

The dark side of the flying dream

The Life and Wars of General Curtis LeMay
by Warren Kozak

Last month I wrote about young men who joined the military out of a desire to fly and then developed misgivings as the gravity of what they were or could be required to do came to weigh on them. Curtis LeMay was not that kind of pilot nor that kind of man.

To many he was a monster, or at best a madman. LeMay was the architect of the American firebombing campaign that killed a half-million Japanese civilians in the Second World War, the master of America's airborne atomic arsenal in the 1950s, the model for General Jack D. Ripper in Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove, and George Wallace's third-party running mate in 1968.

LeMay is one of those fascinating historical figures about whom not enough has been written. Warren Kozak wrote this book specifcally to remedy that oversight and to help correct LeMay's bizarre and cartoonish public image. No chickenhawk, Kozak's interest in LeMay stems from a remark made by one of his college professors: "You might not agree with his politics, but if you have a son serving in combat, you want him serving under someone like LeMay."

That practical assessment informs Kozak's generally positive portrait of LeMay as a decent man called upon to do truly terrible things in pursuit of the greater good. LeMay's bravery and leadership were legendary (he frequently flew the lead plane on dangerous missions), and his ability to hit the enemy harder than any other commander while bringing more American flyers safely back to base were very nearly miraculous. But don't take my word for it, read Kozak's strangely compelling biography for yourself.

To request this book click the title or cover above.

Review by Don Beistle

No comments:

Post a Comment