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To Command the Sky


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About the Author

Stephen L. McFarland is Professor of History and former Dean of the Graduate School, Auburn University. Among his works are A Concise History of the U.S. Air Force, Battles Not Fought: The Creation of an Independent Air Force, Conquering the Night: Army Air Forces Night Fighters at War and America's Pursuit of Precision Bombing, 1910-1945.

Wesley Newton is Professor Emeritus of History at Auburn University and co-editor, with Robert R. Rea, of Wings of Gold: An Account of Naval Aviation Training in World War II.


YA-- The authors confirm that the winning of air superiority and not the success of strategic bombing paved the way for the Allied invasion of France and ultimately their victory in Europe. They use both American and German accounts to furnish specific explanations of the disputes surrounding the air campaign of the war. This book provides a careful study of the people, technology, military decisions, and events in the struggle for control of the skies.-- Mike Printz, Topeka West H.S., Topeka, KS

A thoroughly documented, exuberantly written, objective, scholarly record of the costly but essential fight for domination of the skies over western Europe during World War II. Authors McFarland and Newton are historians thoroughly familiar with the documents... and they mined these valuable collections to write this superior book. They also understand the fundamentals of modern air combat operations. This book does a better job than any other I have examined of exploring the personalities who were charged with the responsibility for making the strategic bombing doctrine effective. McFarland and Newton also master the technical details of the tactics used to defeat the Lufwaffe.... To Command the Sky is an indispensable addition to the bookshelf of any serious student of World War II or military aviation. - Alan L. Gropman, The Journal of American History

The concept of strategic bombing (eliminating the enemy's war-making ability by destroying his industrial base) dominated American air operations until 1944, when it was replaced by the quest for air superiority, or control of the skies. In this untold WW II story McFarland, who teaches history at Auburn University, and Newton ( The Perilous Sky ) suggest that the turning point occurred with Gen. James Doolitte's command decision that U.S. fighters, instead of protecting American bombers directly, would henceforth seek out and destroy German fighters. With the German training establishment unable to replace losses in its fighter arm, Gen. Dwight Eisenhower could tell his D-Day invasion troops, ``If you see fighting aircraft over you, they will be ours.'' This latest entry in the Smithsonian History of Aviation series argues persuasively that the campaign for control of European skies ranks in importance with such epic confrontations as those of Midway and Stalingrad. (Nov.)

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