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December 27, 2011

Book Review - Pacific Air by David Sears

Those of you who know me know that I'm a huge World War II buff, having read numerous books on the subject. In fact, I remember having read every book on World War II in the Wilson Elementary School library by 3rd grade and wondering where I was going to find more to feed my hunger (Public library? What is this thing you speak of?).

That hasn't gone away as I've grown older. In fact, while my interests have branched out to a huge swath of history, I still love me a good World War II book, especially if it's about something I didn't know a lot about.

Thus comes David Sears' new book, Pacific Air. This book is all about the naval aviation aspect of the war in the Pacific Ocean against the Japanese. It talks about the pilots, the aircraft, the trials and tribulations as well as the triumphs of these flyboys. The other good thing about the book is that it's not totally American-centric. Sears does examine the life of a Japanese pilot as well, adding a fresh perspective to the whole thing.

It's a very good book, and one I'm glad I read. My review has now been posted on Curled Up With a Good Book.

From the review:
Students of World War II know that a large part of the war in the Pacific Ocean against the Japanese consisted of huge carrier battles, where enemy ships never saw each other and the war took place among the planes in the sky. These planes were based on aircraft carriers and the war was a back-and-forth battle between these planes to try and sink the enemy carriers before your own were sunk. Pacific Air by David Sears examines the war from the viewpoint of these pilots, and it's a great read.

Sears begins with the aircraft themselves, detailing how before the war, Grumman became one of the mainstays for the building of naval aircraft. He talks about the flight tests, the strengths and weaknesses of some of the first planes to fly off the assembly line. It is important to get a basic understanding regarding what these pilots were actually flying. However, while the first chapter starts with the reaction of the factory higher-ups when the attack on Pearl Harbor was announced (they were opening a new plant on the same day), and the second tells us about the first naval pilot casualties as they attempt to land in Hawaii and were shot at by panicked ground gunners, this does not make a riveting story for those readers just beginning the book.
Yes, the beginning of the book is really slow, but it definitely picks up and becomes an interesting read.

I give it a big thumbs up, though you pretty much do have to have an interest in World War II or it may not have the same effect that it had on me.


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