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. ..
"Coram's worthy biography is deeply researched and detailed, down to describing the fine technical points of some of Boyd's theories. A Boyd advocate (he 'contributed as much to fighter aviation as any man in the history of the Air Force,' Coram notes), Coram does not shy away from Boyd's often self-defeating abrasiveness and the neglect and mistreatment of his long-suffering wife and children, and keeps the story of a unique life moving smoothly and engagingly." Publishers Weekly
"The sheer mass of information Coram pumps out requires some military knowledge, if only not to be taken in by all of Coram's claims about Boyd, and such knowledgeable readers will most appreciate this study of an American military reformer." Roland Green, Booklist
"Coram has captured the invincible spirit that is John Boyd in all its fury and intensity of purpose and genius." Senator Charles Grassley
"What a story...Coram tells this unforgettable story with the same passion as the man who lived it. A great read!" William Diehl, author of Eureka
John Boyd was the greatest fighter pilot in American history. From the proving ground of the Korean War, he went on to win renown as the instructor who defeated-in less than forty seconds-every pilot who took him on. But what made Boyd a man for the ages was what happened after he left the cockpit. Boyd made a career of challenging the intractable Pentagon bureaucracy, making enemies and a few devoted disciples who would become known as "The Acolytes." Boyd transformed the way military aircraft-in particular the F-15 and F-16-were designed with his revolutionary "Energy-Maneuverability Theory," fighting the Air Force's entrenched ideas every step of the way. He then dedicated lonely years to a radical theory of conflict that at the time was mostly ignored, but now is acclaimed as the most influential thinking about conflict since Sun Tzu.
A man of daring, ferocious passion, and remarkable stubbornness, John Boyd was that most American of heroes - a rebel who cared not for his reputation or fortune, but for his country. And in Boyd, Robert Coram finally tells his incredible story. Until now, John Boyd has been the great secret hero of the American military. No longer.
A larger-than-life fighter pilot and genius of aviation, engineering and military strategy, John Boyd dared to challenge the intractable military bureaucracy and its outmoded practices. Coram paints a colourful portrait of this unconventional man who locked horns with bureaucracy - and won.
As profiled by the author of "Skunk Works, " the secret hero of the American military is shown to be the nation's greatest fighter pilot and most brilliant military theorist. of photos.
About the Author
Robert Coram is the author of three acclaimed nonfiction books and seven novels. Twice nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for his work in the "Atlanta Constitution," he has written for "The New Yorker." He is also one of the few civilians to have flown in both the F-100 and the F-15. Coram lives in Atlanta.