If you liked this book you would probably also like Lucifer's Hammer. It is written by the same team and includes a similar element of the world being struck by a large body. The circumstances are natural and it's more of a post-apocalyptic story, dealing with the situations before and after Hammer Fall.
This is an excellent book. The only problem I had was the very large cast of characters. I had trouble keeping straight who was who until about halfway through the book. The speaker's performance was excellent, especially considering that alien language features into it.
This book consisted of some interesting stories told by pilots of some important, if not really spoken about, missions from the time after WWII until Vietnam. It was my first exposure to any information about what it was like to fly in the Berlin airlift. I was also fascinated to listen to the stories of early EW missions over the Soviet Union. Much of what was done by these brave men, and the sacrifices they made, weren't made public at the time and is still not well known.
It was interesting to hear about what drew people into flying and how they made it to become Air Force pilots. The book is basically just a loose collection of stories, roughly grouped by the time frames the pilots flew. There's no real information or background communicated by the author.
One thing I didn't like was the narrator. He spoke well and clearly. The problem I had was that at times the book would switch from the pilot recounting his story to the author giving adding some information (such as the emotions of the interviewee as they reached a difficult part of their experience). Since 'voice' in the book changed, but the voice reading the book remained the same, these switches were a bit jarring. There wasn't much emotion either. You'd hear a story about a guy trying to bail out of a plane on fire, over enemy territory, with the same tone you'd expect from a guy complaining about how his pen ran out of ink today at work.
Overall though, the book was mostly interesting and the narration was good, if flat. If you're interested in hearing about the less spoken about side of the Air Force during the beginning of the Cold War, I would recommend it.
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.
Report Inappropriate Content