Synopses & Reviews
John Boyd may be the most remarkable unsung hero in all of American military history. Some remember him as the greatest U.S. fighter pilot ever -- the man who, in simulated air-to-air combat, defeated every challenger in less than forty seconds. Some recall him as the father of our country's most legendary fighter aircraft -- the F-15 and F-16. Still others think of Boyd as the most influential military theorist since Sun Tzu. They know only half the story. Boyd, more than any other person, saved fighter aviation from the predations of the Strategic Air Command. His manual of fighter tactics changed the way every air force in the world flies and fights. He discovered a physical theory that forever altered the way fighter planes were designed. Later in life, he developed a theory of military strategy that has been adopted throughout the world and even applied to business models for maximizing efficiency. And in one of the most startling and unknown stories of modern military history, the Air Force fighter pilot taught the U.S. Marine Corps how to fight war on the ground. His ideas led to America's swift and decisive victory in the Gulf War and foretold the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. On a personal level, Boyd rarely met a general he couldn't offend. He was loud, abrasive, and profane. A man of daring, ferocious passion and intractable stubbornness, he was that most American of heroes -- a rebel who cared not for his reputation or fortune but for his country. He was a true patriot, a man who made a career of challenging the shortsighted and self-serving Pentagon bureaucracy. America owes Boyd and his disciples -- the six men known as the "Acolytes" -- a great debt. Robert Coram finally brings to light the remarkable story of a man who polarized all who knew him, but who left a legacy that will influence the military -- and all of America -- for decades to come. ..
"It is a rare enough event when an individual is able to offer an original idea or approach to an age-old social institution. It is even more exceptional when that same agent not only persuades
others to think as he or she does, but also transforms the way an incredibly hierarchical, conservative, powerful social organization conducts its mission. This is what John Boyd did to the American armed forces, and to the way modern warfare is conducted. Coram's well-crafted biography of Boyd is an important work for a number of reasons. First, Boyd truly deserves credit for transforming the way in which the Pentagon approached war fighting during the 1980's (credit that the Marine Corps is will to extend, but which the Air Force is far more reluctant to recognize). Boyd and his 'acolytes' (a group of well placed individuals in the armed forces, Congress, and the executive branch) fought against conservative and Clausewitzian (the two, of course, are not the same thing) modes of conceiving of war, and against the bureaucracies and defense contractors that benefited from them. The result has been an impressive transformation in the way the U.S. military plans and executes military operations and strategy. Second, this work is inspiring to the extent that it demonstrates what an individual can accomplish even though amazingly powerful forces are arrayed against him or her. True, the costs may be high and the recognition posthumous. Nevertheless, the story is compelling and worthy of consideration. Boyd is a wonderful biography of a fascinating and important man in American military history." Reviewed by David Strohl, Virginia Quarterly Review (Copyright 2006 Virginia Quarterly Review)
- Boyd's theories of combat have informed virtually every U.S. military engagement of recent years, including the deployment of American armed forces in the Gulf War, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, among others, have acknowledged Boyd's contribution to current American military thinking.- BOYD is currently in its third hardcover printing, with more than 35,000 copies sold.- Robert Coram is one of the few civilians to have flown aboard both the F-100 and the F-15.