While much of this book is about General Ira Eaker's efforts to build the 8th Air Force out of a bomber command that had little more than a six-man staff--""without headquarters, without aircraft, without bombs, guns, or even paper clips""--the story's most fascinating moments concern two large, doom-fraught bombing runs against German ball-bearing plants at Schweinfurt. The American general's first problem was overcoming British resistance to daylight bombing when the bombers were sitting ducks for German fighters. Then came a more nitty-gritty dilemma: Allied fighters did not have the gas reserves to accompany the Flying Fortresses deep into Germany--and so the bombers were on their own. What's more, the Allied fighters proved to be inferior when they did meet the Luftwaffe. But the 8th Air Force had the Norden bombsight, marvelously accurate for daylight targets, if the 8th could knock out the Nazi ball-bearing industry, the German war machine would grind to a halt within four months. The first giant raid resulted in over 80 bombers downed; lesser attacks were pyrrhic victories--the second monster raid cost nearly 70 bombers, a toll no air force could support. Fortunately, the long-range Mustang fighter--superior (for a while) to all German fighters--arrived in force and turned the tide. Told in a manner more specialized than compelling.