Aces High: The Heroic Saga of the Two Top-Scoring American Aces of World War II
Bill Yenne. New York: Berkley, 2009. Illus. Bib. Append. Index. 348 pp. $25.95.
Fighter pilots captured the heart of America from the earliest days of World War II. A pilot who won five air-to-air battles was designated an "ace," a term that originated during World War I in French newspapers. Aces High is the story of two Army Air Corps pilots who rose to become true public icons.
The prologue to Aces High summarizes the rise of aerial warfare from its genesis in World War I, when fighter pilots were their own breed, "fighting one another man to man like the knights of the medieval tournament." Part I describes the early years of Richard "Dick" Bong, a corn-fed Kansas lad, and Thomas "Tommy" McGuire, a fast talker born in New Jersey, and their respective training paths to the P-38 Lightnings they flew so skillfully.