Overshadowed by figures like Dwight Eisenhower and Douglas MacArthur, U.S. Army Air Corps commander Henry Harold “Hap” Arnold deserves just as much credit for the Allied victory in World War II, this new biography argues.
Commissioned a lieutenant in the infantry upon graduating from West Point, Arnold’s interest in aviation began in 1909 when he saw his first airplane in flight. Taught to fly by the Wright Brothers, Arnold transferred to the aeronautical division of the Army Signal Corps and began his distinguished career as a military aviation pioneer. A protégé of the controversial visionary general Billy Mitchell, Arnold rose to command the Army Air Corps immediately prior to the U.S. entry into World War II and directed its expansion into the largest and most powerful airborne military force in the world. An advocate of technological research and development, he oversaw the development of the intercontinental bomber, the jet fighter, the extensive use of radar, global airlift and atomic warfare as mainstays of modern air power. In this admiring, detailed biography, Yenne chronicles Arnold’s many accomplishments, explaining how the strategic bombing campaigns against Germany and Japan Arnold conceived contributed to their defeat. Curiously lacking is any discussion of the highly controversial decision of the Allies to shift from strategic to area bombings of Germany and Japan after their defeat was inevitable.
An informative biography aviation enthusiasts and military-history buffs will find most appealing. (photos, appendices, bibliography, index) (Biography. 13 & up)