Victory Through Air Power



Book: Victory Through Air Power

Author: Alexander Procofieff De Seversky

Publisher: Simon and Schuster, 1942

ISBN-13: 978-1299067042

ISBN-10: 1299067042

Language level:  1

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level: Of interest to teens and adults

Rating: **** 4 stars

(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

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Seversky, Alexander Procofieff deVictory Through Air Power (Published in 1942 by Simon and Schuster Inc., Rockefeller Center, 1230 Sixth Ave., New York City, NY).  Alexander Nikolaievich Procoffieff de Seversky (June 7, 1894 – August 24, 1974) was a Russian-American aviation pioneer, inventor, and influential advocate of strategic air power.  De Seversky began his military life at a young age. After serving in the Imperial Russian Navy, he received high honors and was the ace in the Navy after engaging in over 57 aerial combats during World War I. After coming to the United States, he created the Seversky Aircraft Company.  The outbreak of World War II found the U.S. air arsenal still pitifully neglected. To bring the magnitude of the problem to public attention, de Seversky wrote Victory Through Airpower and explained his theories of aviation and long-range bombing as influenced by General Billy Mitchell. The book became a best seller (it was even issued in a “Book of the Month Club” edition) and awoke people to the need for better air power. For his efforts he was awarded the Medal of Merit by President Harry Truman. Did you know that, “Although the airplane was first employed as a military weapon in the Balkan War of 1912-13, it did not assume a conspicuous role until the World War of 1914-18”?

When I picked up this book, I assumed that it would be a dry, dusty treatise on aviation theory.  However, the first half of the book is a fascinating account of the use of air power in the battles of Poland, the Maginot Line, the Skagerrak, Dunkirk, Britain, Crete, the Bismark, and of course Pearl Harbor, all of which had taken place prior to its publication in 1942.  Then based on these examples, de Seversky argues, “The most significant single fact about the war now in progress is the emergence of aviation as the paramount and decisive factor in warmaking….We can head off disaster only by recognizing its looming shape and by beginning now to prepare to meet any challenge.”  The second half of the book, which begins, “In the foregoing chapters we have traced the role of air power in the present global conflict and have noted the new relationships of weapons and the consequent revolutionary revision of traditional military ideas,” is the plea for “a separate and independent Air Force, organized as an equal partner in the great triumvirate of our land, sea, and air services.”

Even though his ideas were roundly criticized by the military establishment of the time (his mentor and associate Gen. Billy Mitchell was court-martialed for espousing some of the same concepts), obviously, de Seversky ultimately got his wish, and his suggestions helped us to win the war.  Why would I read such a book?  It was a gift because it was on my list of books turned into movies.  Victory Through Air Power was a 1943 American Technicolor animated documentary feature film produced by Walt Disney Productions and released by United Artists on July 17, 1943, based on the 1942 book of the same name by de Seversky, who actually appeared in the film, an unusual departure from the Disney animated feature films of the time.  Those who enjoy reading about aviation, military theory in general, and World War II in particular should find the book interesting.

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