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In the twelve months centered around the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, a diverse group of American and British flyers fought one of the most remarkable air campaigns of WWII. Pilots including Claire Chennault, "Pappy" Boyington, and Art Donahue bought time for an Allied regrouping against Japan's relentless assault in the China-Burma-India theater. In the face of the 1941 bombings, Chiang Kai-shek turned to air power to survive, which he did thanks to Chennault's rebuilding of the Chinese Air Force and the leadership of the American Volunteer Group, or AVG.

Formed by Chennault, the AVG, also known as the Flying Tigers, were contract employees working for the Chinese government. As a result, they received virtually no official American recognition for their efforts. The group was known for their romantic, reckless spirit. They performed remarkably with outdated planes and equipment in ill-repair, were almost always heavily outnumbered in battle, and were seen by outsiders as hard-drinking rebels.

Whatever their image, the Flying Tigers were highly effective. In the words of Air Force Major General Charlie Bond, "During that first week of action the AVG destroyed fifty-five enemy bombers and fighters while losing only five Tomahawks. Unfortunately, two of our colleagues were killed, but at the same time two hundred enemy airmen were either killed or captured. We were shattering the myth that the Japanese Air Force was invincible."

Jerome Klinkowitz, whose earlier books focused on flyers' attitudes toward the air war in Britain and Europe, continues his work with an exceptionally interesting group of Pacific warriors. He brings together not only the commanders' stories but the often more colorful--and sometimes more accurate--accounts of life and battle by the men who flew these planes and the women who participated on the ground.

Jerome Klinkowitz, professor of English and University Distinguished Scholar at the University of Northern Iowa, is the author of Yanks Over Europe and Their Finest Hours.

"Contains the best general description and estimate of Gen. Claire Chennault I have ever read."—Bernard Norling

"Brings together not only the commanders’ stories but often more colorful—and sometimes more accurate—accounts of life and battle by the men who flew these planes and the women who participated on the ground."—McCormick (SC) Messenger

"Shows that the Tigers’ success was largely due to Chennault himself."—Rapport

"Forces us to re-evaluate the role of the military hero who has passed into the realm of myth and legend."—South Carolina Review

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY






World War II, World War II aviation, Claire Chennault, Flying Tigers, AVG, American Volunteer Group


Military History

With the Tigers over China, 1941-1942
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