The New York Times best-selling author of Viper Pilot and retired USAF F-16 legend Dan Hampton offers the first comprehensive popular history of combat aviation - a unique, entertaining, and action-packed look at the aces of the air and their machines, from the Red Baron and his triplane in World War I to today's technologically expert flying warriors in supersonic jets.
One of the most decorated fighter pilots in history, U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) Dan Hampton goes back 100 years to tell the extraordinary story of the most famous fighter planes and the brave and daring heroes who made them legend.
Drawing on his expertise, Hampton shines a spotlight on the pioneers who have ruled the air from World War I through the Cold War to today. He provides unique insight into gutsy pioneers such as Manfred von Richthofen and his red triplane, and the flyboys in the iconic P51 Mustang who faced the Nazi Lufwaffe. Here, too, is a thoughtful look at modern air warriors, including his own exploits in the high-tech f-16 Falcon.
Interwoven throughout this sweeping narrative history is Hampton's personal account of traveling the world to find these storied aircraft. Strapping himself into the cockpit of such planes, he shares the thrill and experience of flying each. Exhilarating, told in his acclaimed high-octane style, Lords of the Sky is a fresh look at the development of aviation for history and military buffs alike.
©2014 Ascalon, LLC (P)2014 HarperCollinsPublishers
"Great history, but ending goes off-topic"
I grabbed Lords of the Sky after having read Hampton's other excellent book Viper Pilot. Most of my knowledge of air combat is from WWII and later. Hampton's history of the very beginnings of military aviation and fighter combat was very interesting. It also provides a basis to show the sharp contrasts in just how quickly aviation matured. And how some things (the core of air combat) remained the same. I appreciated the author's telling of stories from more than just an American point of view.
If I had any qualms it would be that the post-Korea part of the story mostly involves Americans, SAMs, and Weasels. Given that Hampton was a USAF Weasel pilot this is not surprising. There's a good account of Weaseling in Viper Pilot and I found it very interesting. However, I think the focus here takes the story off-topic.
I was disappointed that harsh lessons of air combat in Vietnam and America's losing touch with ACM prior to it weren't really touched on. Neither was the creation of Red Flag and Top Gun. John Boyd and the theory of energy-manueverability weren't mentioned. The Air Force's air superiority fighter, the F-15, is mentioned only in passing, and its replacement the F-22 is also mentioned just once (as a multi-billion dollar, single-mission waste).
Those qualms aside it was a great all around book, with me learning something in every chapter. His stories do a good job of immersing you into combat in various eras. The narration was fantastic. I recommend it to anyone with an interest in air combat.
"Outstanding history of the fighter pilot"
This book weaves histories of the pilots, planes, tactics, weapons and personal stories together in an informative and entertaining way. John Pruden's narration was very good.
A very good book combined with a very good narration yields a very pleasurable listen.
"Interesting, but very technical"
If you are very familiar with all types of airplanes, flying jargon, military anachronisms, flying formations and military terminology, you will like this book. If, like me, you are not so well versed in these things, you will find this book a slow read and a bit hard to follow. I would have preferred to see the author pick out a few key, milestone advances in fighter planes and to have developed those in detail rather than cover so many different types of planes and training evolutions.
"Holds your interest"
A good detailed easy to listen to the history of aviation fighters and the development of them from WW1 to Iraq.
"History from a little bit different angle"
This a a great piece of history for those interested in aviation. Best if you have a basic background, i.e. know what flaps are. There is a fair amount of the surrounding history though the author sticks pretty much to the subject matter and gives background just for context. I found this book totally enjoyable but I am a history and aviation enthusiast (read plane nut) so it was a natural fit. It helps if you know some of the history but do not think it is totally necessary. The narration is great especially when he goes into "radio com" mode. Best if you are really into the subject matter as the book would be a bit detailed for someone looking for a causal read.
"Very good read"
Good technical info, wish it were even more technical, and a little less battle history, but a very good book nonetheless
"I wanted more flying"
Long on history and facts but not enough "flying" stories. Overall a good read but I wanted to ride and fight with the pilots of yesterday.
"History of the Fighter Pilot by a Fighter Pilot"
Story: This ranks up there as one of the best books about fighter pilots. Fighter Pilot by Robin Olds is #1 and this one is #2. This one is a bit different as it is written by current F-16 jock Dan Hampton and has a lot of his innate understanding of the subject. It is also more of a history of the fighter pilot from creation to now.
Performance: Superb narration, good pronunciation and enunciation. Very listenable and non-distracting.
Overall: It seems to me to be just the right depth of history/detail/overview. I'm not overwhelmed by too much jargon, but get enough of the actual mechanics and thoughts to really put me in the ejection seat.
the story starts in World War 1 and extensively talks about airplanes and tactics and Pilots. it then spends a lot of time in World War II and pre-World War 2 tactics and campaigns and persons. from there the remainder of the book is fragmented and very disjointed jumping around between Vietnam Middle East and finally the gulf Wars.
"Great book. Lots of history."
Great book for those that are into flight and history. I wish there was a few more stories on fighter pilots, especially during the Pacific theater of WW2.
"The real top guns"
Some books are better listened to than read. And this is one of those
Wild weasels over Vietnam
A very good narrator
The very best of the best
A wonderful book
"Bandits at 6 o'clock"
I really liked this book and would recommend it but in-line with some other reviews the content of the book was slightly different to what i anticipated. I expected a book purely concerned with fighters and the pilots who flew them but large chunks of text are taken up with historical notes on the campaigns behind the fights. While these are done well anyone will a good understand of the conflicts may find these sections frustrating.
The core material focusing on the planes and pilots was done very well with the admiration the author has for all the aviators shining through.
"A magnificent insight into the minder of a fighter pilot."
An interesting historical analysis of the fighter pilot and how air warfare has changed since its inception during the Great War. A masterful, educational study of how a pilot has adapt I'd to the new threats and differing methodology of dealing with these threats. I found this book informative and entertaining.
"Fascinating and a brilliant story"
A well written 'book' which is both informative and entertaining. The battle descriptions really put you in the cockpit with the pilots.
"Great listen great narrator"
This is my second book from this writer and just as good as the last the narrator is great well worth buying
"How American fighters won pretty much every war."
No. The writer left some glaring errors. No mention at all of German night fighters in WW2 for instance, nothing on the Falklands War, which was unique and very interesting. No mention of one of the best fighters of WW2, the Mosquito. None of these events involved the US and that may be the reason, yet there is reference to the Yom Kippur War. The reader mis-pronounced many names and places.
The very American standpoint of the book made me wonder if Britain was ever involved in Korea for example. The writer describes in detail the success of the few US pilots that got airborne at Pearl Harbour when in fact the day was a big defeat for America. The writer is very partizan.
The reader mangled many English words (he pronounced "Blenheim" as "Blen-hime" instead of "Blen-im" for instance) and I cringed as he said French and German names and places in neither the way they are said in their language or how English speakers commonly say them. He also has a strange, halting way of reading which isn't very fluent or comfortable to hear.
There's a lot of blow-by-blow description of Vietnamese and Gulf war air-to-ground bombing missions with transcripts of radio calls. This is irrelevant in a book about fighters and quite boring too.
If you know nothing about the history of fighters, this will give you some insights but it's incomplete and written from a very American point of view and therefore suitable for non-US audiences.
"Air combat from the start, a brilliant insight."
If you love Combat Aircraft & your history this book abyss of Knowledge you must read!
"Gripping tales of 100 years of fighter aviation"
After reading Viper Pilot I was keen to once more hear Dan Hampton's wonderfully worded proles on the ballet of air combat, to on non-flyer he really brings to life the excitement, terror and also the unbelievable complexity of dogfighting, so much more than point and shoot.
The historical background provided was at just the right level and in fact is quite excellently written. Hampton is quite opinionated and makes no apologies for it.
The performers' tone and accent fits perfectly with I'd imagine from a seasoned USAF pilot, not to mention the sound effects!
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