A brainy, flame-grained, profoundly felt air-combat novel about the only all-black fighter squadron in WW II. The Homestead Grays are named after a black baseball team from the South, and their squadron offers the first opportunity for blacks to achieve a tremendous symbolic victory using sophisticated machinery (Mustangs) while fighting for a country that keeps them on the ground and underfoot. These heroes are blacks of the 1930s, half-blind with depression, whose lives are suddenly lighted by the thunderclap of a war that draws their blood up into high flame--before burning them to white ash. The story follows them through North Africa, Sicily, and France in a thorough depiction of every aspect of air war, plus the logistics of ground battle. Wylie wrings maximum altitude out of his Mustang pilots and the horrors of the cockpit. And, at novel's end, the propdriven black aces engage the first German jet squadron in a contest over Berlin that shakes with doom. Fact-as-exhilarating-myth, this delivers full force, exploding and fading with a direct hit on the adrenals and sympathetic ganglia.