Due to the length of this book it remained on my shelf for a long while. I thought that it might be a dull account of the development of military aviation.
So when I started reading it I was pleased to see that in fact it was fast paced, discussed theory, tactics, personalities, aeroplanes, strategy and a whole lot besides in fairly quick succession. It is certainly a well thought out book and, starting with the beginnings of aviation in 1903 (and even before) it proceeds to deal with how planes tactics and strategy changed from the First World War through to Gulf War II.
One of the most interesting features of the book is that it deals with the thinking behind the use of military aviation. For example throughout the 1920's and 1930s there was a great debate between those who thought precision bombing was practical and those who thought not (or thought it didn't matter if bombing was imprecise as its psychological effect was just as, if not more, important than the physical damaged caused). It also describes some of the main personalities in some detail to give a good idea of the men who were responsible for the important turning points in military aviation.
The book has very few minus points. I found it US-centric but perhaps that is unavoidable as the author is American and so clearly the materials most readily accessible are going to be US-based. Also the early chapters one could say are more Euro-centric, as it was not until after WWII that the US came to be the global hegemon and so one would expect more discussion of the US in the chapters dealing with the post-WWII period. Also I liked the little pictures within the text showing what some of the planes being described looked like.....even more would have been even better!
I knew a fair bit about the subject before reading this book but learnt so much from this review of the subject and read the c.440 pages in about a week. One of the few books deserving the full 5 stars!