• Lords of the Sky

  • Fighter Pilots and Air Combat, from the Red Baron to the F-16
  • By: Dan Hampton
  • Narrated by: John Pruden
  • Length: 17 hrs and 25 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (655 ratings)

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Lords of the Sky

By: Dan Hampton
Narrated by: John Pruden
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Publisher's Summary

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
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

What listeners say about Lords of the Sky

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great history, but ending goes off-topic

Any additional comments?

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.

13 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

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.

5 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Don't let the title fool you

I was hoping some in-depth stories about the air aces through the years. Instead I got a story about the history of war, from WWI through Iraq. The author goes into minutia that has NOTHING to do with air combat, like the names of foxholes built by the French in Viet Nam. Great research, nothing to do with air combat.

I found myself screaming at the radio, asking what this chapter had to do with air combat. SO many aces that were never mentioned, or mentioned only in passing.

If you want the history of war, this is for you. If you want the history of the actual 'Lords of the Sky', skip this book.

4 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Waste of time

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

Rewrite it by someone who know how to write.

Would you ever listen to anything by Dan Hampton again?

No

Any additional comments?

I want my money back, this one just sucked.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

This book is a shack (hits a bullseye)

Would you listen to Lords of the Sky again? Why?

After reading Edward H. Sims - The Greatest Aces, I thought I had gotten the fighter pilot history lesson. Little did I know there were yet vast unpublished information about the historical ascent of fighter pilots that had contributed to their rise. Dan Hampton has scored a hit here and retrieved history lessons I had never heard before. He does a great job with detail (with audio you must not slumber least you will miss something important). Well arranged with a historical rise beginning with the Wright brothers to modern day aircraft, he manages to describe why a fighter pilot can be skillfully honed but not created. This skill is in so many ways (he calls it hands) must be part of the natural order of creation.

What did you like best about this story?

Puts together history in the right order to explain the rise of the fighter pilot, his tactics and their strategies.

Have you listened to any of John Pruden’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Great

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Pride. Someone has finally explained the uniqueness of the fighter pilot

Any additional comments?

If you are disappointed that you are not a fighter pilot and upset that you never got the chance, than this book is not for you. If you can find objectivity in your heart without the jealous pains of "Why not me!", then you will find out why the fighter fraternity is for just a few precious individuals. I have seen so many pilots think they have the "Right Stuff", only to be losers.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Interesting, but very technical

Any additional comments?

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.

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Lost in the details

The information in this book was lost in the details. It lacked focus, and there are several examples of details that I felt were important, but left out.

I felt that there wasn't that much emphasis on the air to air fighting in the Pacific theater of WW2 and that Japanese fighter pilots weren't given the same level of credit as a lot of the other nations. Emphasis was also made of how aircraft were improved during the wars, and again the Pacific theater wasn’t emphasized, such that the F4F and the F6F were casually mentioned as if they were the same, when in reality, they were very different. The F4F was generally inferior to the Zero, but the F6F was superior, which changed the tide of that fighting.

The book started at the Great War, and spent a good deal of time on this period, but failed to mention another interesting piece of the development of fighter pilots: They didn’t have parachutes because it was thought it would make them cowardly. So even if a plane was hit but the pilot was not, he could end up as a fatality trying to land the damaged plane.

Another tidbit that was left out was the period of time when dog fighting was considered obsolete. This was because weapons had been developed that allowed pilots to take out enemies from miles away without ever actually seeing them. During this time planes weren’t even equipped with guns or cannons, which are essential in close air to air combat when all missiles have been fired, or cannot be locked on the enemy. This thinking was later reversed. Ironically the book also briefly talked about the Israeli Air Force, which actually knew that guns were essential, and had them added to their planes during the time when they weren’t considered necessary.

These are just a few examples of some of the details that could have been included. For a book that contains so much detail, it is surprising that these were left out.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

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.

2 people found this helpful

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  • J
  • 01-22-20

YES! If you love flight and air combat, this is a must read. Sweeping history of fighter pilots.

I loved this book. As an Air Force pilot, I can’t get enough of Dan Hampton’s books. He writes as a pilot for other pilots and interested enthusiasts. Well done!

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Up Up In The Air

interesting but to be honest...boring....it might be a teriffic book if you are a plot but the author drifted off into being to techical and lost my interest....i walk 2-3 hours a day and sometimes the book that i buy make the miles fly by....sorry...not this book...listening to this book was 2 steps forward and one step back....

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-24-15

How American fighters won pretty much every war.

Would you try another book written by Dan Hampton or narrated by John Pruden?

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.

What was most disappointing about Dan Hampton’s story?

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.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

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.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Lords of the Sky Unabridged?

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.

Any additional comments?

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.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Paul S. Turner
  • 07-11-14

The real top guns

Would you consider the audio edition of Lords of the Sky Unabridged to be better than the print version?

Some books are better listened to than read. And this is one of those

What was one of the most memorable moments of Lords of the Sky Unabridged?

Wild weasels over Vietnam

What about John Pruden’s performance did you like?

A very good narrator

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

The very best of the best

Any additional comments?

A wonderful book

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Andy
  • 09-12-14

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.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • a mcmeekin
  • 06-22-22

An interesting story if you can overlook.......

..... the American "we're the greatest and best at everything!!" that creeps in here and there.
Once.past that occasional attitude the story is thoroughly engrossing.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Andyjn
  • 05-04-20

Interesting

I found this book to be interesting and informative. I will definitely listen to it again.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Mr C Peterson
  • 01-07-20

All hail the USA

The book is ok some interesting historical aspects but clearly it’s all about the USA and how wonderful they are...if it wasn’t for them we would all be doomed apparently according to this author.... I would advise staying away from this title.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Royston
  • 08-09-16

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.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Mr. Duncan James Hardy
  • 09-01-15

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.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Trevor
  • 08-02-15

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

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • paul
  • 05-12-15

Air combat from the start, a brilliant insight.

If you love Combat Aircraft & your history this book abyss of Knowledge you must read!

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Thane
  • 11-15-16

An American view on aviation history.

Well written, interesting and enjoyable but it is obviously an American who wrote the book.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kerry H
  • 09-15-22

great read

well researched, written and read. Dan has a skill in delving into the background of events and not just taking things at face value. he writes from experience and breaks down the information in a non condescending manner.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-14-21

A Centuries journey

Thank you for taking me on a journey from the start of the century, to the end.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • VladTepes
  • 01-12-21

100 percent awesome

Fascinating, revealing, informative and highly engaging. It's not hyperbole when I say this possibly the best book on the subject.. And I've read many.

Buy it, buy it now. I promise you won't have a minute of regret.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Dale
  • 05-02-19

Very good.

At first I hated this. later I enjoyed it. Recommended.
marking out more words needed yippee Zumba diggity is this enough?

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • lindsay
  • 03-12-18

brilliant book and very well read

covers early avaition tactics of the great war through WWII, Korea, Vietnam and modern conflicts.
recommend to any one with an interest in miletery aviation