Sam Kleiner...has written a terrific book about the courageous and daring American pilots who helped China resist the Japanese onslaught and helped the U.S. and its allies win the Second World War in East Asia. Contrary to the book’s subtitle, the Flying Tigers’ war did not remain secret for long (U.S. newspapers regaled their readers with accounts of the Tigers’ heroics) and it has been told many times before. That said, Kleiner tells the story better than it has been told before ... Kleiner in this book brings the real Claire Chennault to life again, and relates the equally compelling stories of other individual pilots—their heroism, fears, loves, hates, friendships, and tragedies; all against the dramatic and horrific backdrop of World War II in East Asia.
Sam Kleiner’s The Flying Tigers, a brisk history of the American Volunteer Group’s exploits in China, challenges wistful backward glances to the seemingly straightforward American intervention in World War II. The Flying Tigers’s heavy reliance on memoirs, letters, battlefield reports, and newspaper stories transports the reader into the early days of the War, but Kleiner ensures that we never look back uncritically ... The Flying Tigers reads like an adventure story, as Kleiner deftly takes his reader from cramped cockpits to quiet Washington corridors. But it’s also a cautionary tale. The resulting narrative impresses us with just how terrifyingly easy the projection of military power can be ... As a historical account, The Flying Tigers feels a little incomplete. For all the detail about the Tigers’ exploits, we never see much from the Japanese perspective, and the concentration can feel isolating. The Flying Tigers may not offer the reader a completely balanced battlefield perspective, but the omission has the effect of aligning us with Kleiner’s subjects.
Sam Kleiner provides an extensively researched account of Claire Chennault and his American Volunteer Group ... Drawing from diaries, memoirs, and news articles, Kleiner takes readers through Chennault’s youth and service as an Army pilot, and his eventual command of the American Volunteer Group. Along with Chennault, Kleiner provides additional depth on other significant figures involved with the Flying Tigers’ mission ... The story of the Flying Tigers is extraordinary, and Kleiner does an excellent job describing their creation and exploits in Southeast Asia ... Kleiner provides the full story in a relatively concise 304 pages that is engaging throughout. This is an excellent book for those interested in reading about this extraordinary episode in World War II.