An episodic overview of WW II as endured by unsung American aviators who not only flew the unfriendly skies of the European and Pacific theaters but also manned stateside training commands. Drawing on a wealth of sources, prolific military historian Hoyt warms up with brief accounts of the Flying Tiger units and Eagle Squadrons that engaged in aerial combat long before Pearl Harbor brought the US into the global conflict. In roughly chronological order, he goes on to cover Guadalcanal's so-called Cactus Air Force, daylight bombing of targets in Nazi-occupied Europe, the sizable loss of American aircraft to friendly fire during the invasion of Sicily, the workaday demands of piloting cargo planes over the Hump (the Himalayan mountain range that separates India from China), ferrying paratroopers into battle on D-day, flying submarine patrols over home-front waters, and otherwise soldiering on in a host of duty stations. Hoyt is at pains to recount the experiences of enlisted men as well as officers, and he pays frequent tribute to the hard-working ground crews who kept American aircraft fit to fly under invariably difficult conditions. Hoyt also exercises some offbeat options. For example, while he reprises Jimmy Doolittle's daring raid on Tokyo and the death of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto (at the hands of Army Air Corps P-38s), his only reference to the Enola Gay and Book's Car (the B-29s that dropped A-bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, respectively) is to their storage after V-J Day at a remote field in Roswell, N.M. An engrossing collection of vignettes--one that conveys a sense of what it was like to wage the world's first air war.