100 books like Fighter Pilot

By Ed Rasimus, Christina Olds, Robin Olds

Here are 100 books that Fighter Pilot fans have personally recommended if you like Fighter Pilot. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of A Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of World War II

Mike Guardia Author Of Tomcat Fury: A Combat History of the F-14

From my list on military aviation.

Who am I?

Mike Guardia is an Amazon Top 100 Bestselling Author and military historian. A veteran of the United States Army, he served six years on active duty (2008-2014) as an Armor Officer. He has written and lectured on various topics of modern military history, including guerrilla warfare, air-to-air combat, and World War II in the Pacific. He holds a BA and MA in American History from the University of Houston.

Mike's book list on military aviation

Mike Guardia Why did Mike love this book?

Pound-for-pound, this is perhaps the best military aviation book on the market today.  During the darkest days of World War II, A Higher Call tells the story of a seemingly-improbable act of gallantry in the skies over Europe.  A wounded and hardly-airworthy B-17 limps through the sky near the conclusion of its first mission. It is soon tailed by a Bf-109, the Luftwaffe’s deadliest fighter. The Messerschmitt pilot could end the B-17 crewmen’s lives with the pull of a trigger.  But what happens next will shock the reader.  

By Adam Makos, Larry Alexander,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked A Higher Call as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER: “Beautifully told.”—CNN • “A remarkable story...worth retelling and celebrating.”—USA Today • “Oh, it’s a good one!”—Fox News
 
A “beautiful story of a brotherhood between enemies” emerges from the horrors of World War II in this New York Times bestseller by the author of Devotion, now a Major Motion Picture. 

December, 1943: A badly damaged American bomber struggles to fly over wartime Germany. At the controls is twenty-one-year-old Second Lieutenant Charlie Brown. Half his crew lay wounded or dead on this, their first mission. Suddenly, a Messerschmitt fighter pulls up on the bomber’s tail. The pilot is German…


Book cover of Hitler's Jewish Soldiers: The Untold Story of Nazi Racial Laws and Men of Jewish Descent in the German Military

Colin D. Heaton Author Of The Star of Africa: The Story of Hans Marseille, the Rogue Luftwaffe Ace Who Dominated the WWII Skies

From my list on true stories of survival.

Who am I?

I began reading about history as a child and fell in love with the WW II aviation stories. Later in life I was able to meet many of the men I read about, interview them, and then write my books with their first person accounts. The greatest satisfaction was putting former enemies together who I could prove had fought each other. The reunions were amazing.

Colin's book list on true stories of survival

Colin D. Heaton Why did Colin love this book?

Bryan has been a long-time friend and an academic colleague. His research unearthed material that was virtually unknown. The Holocaust could never be studied and presented in the same way after his book was published, and I had a small part in his research.

By Bryan Mark Rigg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hitler's Jewish Soldiers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On the murderous road to ""racial purity"" Hitler encountered unexpected detours, largely due to his own crazed views and inconsistent policies regarding Jewish identity. After centuries of Jewish assimilation and intermarriage in German society, eliminating Jews from the rest of the population proved more difficult than he'd anticipated. Nowhere was that process more contradictory and confused than in the German military. Bryan Rigg reveals that a startlingly large number of German military men were classified by the Nazis as Jews or ""partial-Jews"" (Mischlinge), in the wake of racial laws first enacted in the mid-1930s. He demonstrates that the actual number…


Book cover of Sons and Soldiers: The Untold Story of the Jews Who Escaped the Nazis and Returned with the U.S. Army to Fight Hitler

Stephanie Vanderslice Author Of The Lost Son

From my list on stories of World War II you’ve never heard before.

Who am I?

In writing The Lost Son, which is loosely based on family history, I immersed myself in the history of World War II and in the world between the wars. It was important to me to understand this period from both sides—from the perspective of Germans who were either forced to flee their homeland or witness its destruction from within by a madman, and from the perspective of Americans with German ties who also fought fascism. The stories of ordinary people during this time are far more nuanced than the epic battles that World War II depicted, as the stories of ordinary people often are. 

Stephanie's book list on stories of World War II you’ve never heard before

Stephanie Vanderslice Why did Stephanie love this book?

Sons and Soldiers tells the stories of the Ritchie Boys, a special military intelligence unit of the US Army in World War II trained in Camp Ritchie, Maryland and made up of German-Austrian men, often German Jews who had fled Nazi persecution. These men had everything to lose: if they were captured and identified behind enemy lines, they would be killed on the spot. However, they also knew that their special knowledge of the German language and German culture gave them an advantage against Hitler’s army. The Ritchie Boys were critical to the Allied victory. Not surprisingly, those who survived went on to become leaders in American society, great heroes who understood that there are some things worth dying for. 

By Bruce Henderson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Sons and Soldiers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'The last great, untold story of WWII... highly compelling' Daily Mail

Fleeing Nazi persecution for America in the 1930s, the young German-born Jews who would come to be known as The Ritchie Boys were labelled 'enemy aliens' when war broke out. Although of the age to be inducted into the U.S. military, their German accents made them distrusted. Until one day in 1942, when the Pentagon woke up to the incredible asset they had in their ranks, and sent these young recruits to a secret military intelligence training centre at Camp Ritchie, Maryland.

These men knew the language, culture and…


Book cover of Devotion: An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship, and Sacrifice

Colin D. Heaton Author Of The Star of Africa: The Story of Hans Marseille, the Rogue Luftwaffe Ace Who Dominated the WWII Skies

From my list on true stories of survival.

Who am I?

I began reading about history as a child and fell in love with the WW II aviation stories. Later in life I was able to meet many of the men I read about, interview them, and then write my books with their first person accounts. The greatest satisfaction was putting former enemies together who I could prove had fought each other. The reunions were amazing.

Colin's book list on true stories of survival

Colin D. Heaton Why did Colin love this book?

The true story of two men (one I knew), a son of a poor Mississippi sharecropper Jessie Brown and Thomas Hudner. Brown was the Navy’s first black pilot, and Hudner was a Medal of Honor recipient in his squadron who tried to rescue him when he was shot down at the Chosin Reservoir in Korea.

By Adam Makos,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Devotion as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE NATIONAL BESTSELLER • NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE • From America’s “forgotten war” in Korea comes an unforgettable tale of courage by the author of A Higher Call.

“In the spirit of Unbroken and The Boys in the Boat comes Devotion.”—Associated Press • “Aerial drama at its best—fast, powerful, and moving.”—Erik Larson

Devotion tells the inspirational story of the U.S. Navy’s most famous aviation duo, Lieutenant Tom Hudner and Ensign Jesse Brown, and the Marines they fought to defend. A white New Englander from the country-club scene, Tom passed up Harvard to fly fighters for his country. An African…


Book cover of Fork-Tailed Devil: The P-38

Philip Sherman Mygatt Author Of Innocence Lost – A Childhood Stolen

From my list on WWII stories you have probably never heard of.

Who am I?

Having been born two months before Pearl Harbor, as I grew older, I vaguely remember hearing my parents talking about the war. When I was able, I used to pull my little red wagon around the neighborhood to collect bacon grease I donated to the local butcher shop to support the war. After retiring from the technology industry, I tried my hand at writing books. After a few futile attempts, I finally started writing novels about WWII. I first wrote Return to La Roche-en-Ardenne, then Innocence Lost - A Childhood Stolen, and finally Thou Shall Do No Harm – Diary of an Auschwitz Physician which will be re-released in early 2023.

Philip's book list on WWII stories you have probably never heard of

Philip Sherman Mygatt Why did Philip love this book?

Being a pilot who flew F-4’s over North Vietnam, I have always been fascinated by WWII planes and how sophisticated they seemed at the time but, in retrospect, they were quite unsophisticated flying machines. The first model plane I built as a child was the P-38 and this book puts me right in the cockpit. The P-38 was a huge advancement in technology and demanded special skills to fly as it foreshadowed the complexity of the upcoming generation of jet fighters. Why not join me in the cockpit? 

By Martin Caidin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fork-Tailed Devil as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of America's greatest military aviation historians relates the astonishing--and true--story of the only American warplane to fight in every operational theater in World War II from Pearl Harbor to Alaska and North Africa to Northern Europe.


Book cover of Into the Teeth of the Tiger

Carl Molesworth Author Of Flying Tiger Ace: The story of Bill Reed, China’s Shining Mark

From my list on the Air War in the China-Burma-India Theater during WWII.

Who am I?

Carl Molesworth’s interest in China and the Far East dates back to childhood memories of stories told by his mother and grandmother of their experiences living in China during the 1920s. He acquired his interest in aviation from his father. Carl began researching the air war in the China-Burma-India Theater while working as a newspaper editor in the late 1970s and published his first book on the subject, Wing To Wing – Air Combat in China 1943-45, in 1990. Of his 14 subsequent books, nine have covered various aspects of air combat in the CBI.

Carl's book list on the Air War in the China-Burma-India Theater during WWII

Carl Molesworth Why did Carl love this book?

When I met Don Lopez in the late 1970s while he was the deputy director of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, I was interviewing him for a magazine article about his exploits as a fighter ace in China during World War II. The intelligence, graciousness and sense of humor I noted that day come through loud and clear in this memoir published in 1997. In contrast to the rest of the books I’m highlighting here, Lopez provides a vivid, first-hand account of what it was like to actually do the fighting in the skies over China, 1943-45. A terrific storyteller, he goes beyond descriptions of exciting air battles to explain the emotional highs and lows he experienced as his personal successes and those of his fellow pilots in the air failed to blunt the major enemy offensive that was underway on the ground at that time.

By Donald S. Lopez,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Into the Teeth of the Tiger as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Into the Teeth of the Tiger provides a vivid, pilot’s-eye view of one of the most extended projections of American air power in World War II Asia. Lopez chronicles every aspect of fighter combat in that theater: harrowing aerial battles, interludes of boredom and inactivity, instances of courage and cowardice. Describing different pilots’ roles in each type of mission, the operation of the P-40, and the use of various weapons, he tells how he and his fellow pilots faced not only constant danger but also the munitions shortages, poor food, and rat-infested barracks of a remote sector of the war.…


Book cover of The Last Tallyho

Tom Burkhalter Author Of Everything We Had: a Novel of the Pacific Air War November-December 1941

From my list on air war stories that put you in the cockpit.

Who am I?

I read the books in my list decades before I started writing air war stories. My first novel was a sci-fi space opera about hot starpilots flying from what I called “spacecraft carriers” in an interstellar war. Over the years I’ve flown sailplanes, power planes, and logged time in the SNJ and the DC-3. Since I was never there, flying high-performance airplanes in combat, I try to read all the histories and memoirs and pilot’s manuals I can get my hands on, and study pictures of the people, time, place, and airplanes I’m writing about. 

Tom's book list on air war stories that put you in the cockpit

Tom Burkhalter Why did Tom love this book?

This book was the first adult air-war novel I read, and it pulled me right into the world of naval aviation in World War II.

The protagonist was young, fresh out of flight school and barely qualified to land on aircraft carriers. The author was a navy fighter pilot during World War II, and he put this youngster’s hands on the controls during some tough flying and fighting. After that, I was hooked!

By Richard Newhafer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Last Tallyho as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of The Big Show

Edgar Bradley Author Of Reliability Engineering: A Life Cycle Approach

From my list on inspiring a love for mechanical engineering.

Who am I?

I don’t think I could have been anything else but an engineer. Following my father’s example, I have a love for moving metal things – both the physical/mathematical aspects and the practical aspects, that apprentices pick up. Engineering systems have personalities all their own – the noisy excitement of a racing motorcycle, the brooding, contented hum of a nuclear powerplant or the clanging and crashing of a steam locomotive in its overrun, literally with fire in its belly.

Edgar's book list on inspiring a love for mechanical engineering

Edgar Bradley Why did Edgar love this book?

This is not an engineering book per se, but one written by an engineer/fighter pilot in WW2. His aircraft was a Hawker Tempest, one of the last and fastest piston-engined fighters. The following quote describes his final flight before demobilization and shows his deep love for the engineering marvel that he flew:

And in that narrow cockpit I wept, as I shall never weep again, when I felt the concrete brush against his wheels and, with I great sweep of the wrist, dropped him on the ground like a cut flower. 

As always, I carefully cleared the engine, turned off all the switches one by one, removed the straps, the wires and the tubes which tied me to him, like a child to his mother. And when my waiting pilots and my mechanics saw my downcast eyes and my shaking shoulders, they understood and returned to the Dispersal in…

By Pierre Clostermann,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Big Show as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'THE BIG SHOW is as close as you'll ever get to fighting for your life from the cockpit of a Spitfire or Typhoon. Perhaps the most viscerally exciting book ever written by a fighter pilot.' Rowland White


Pierre Clostermann DFC was one of the oustanding Allied aces of the Second World War. A Frenchman who flew with the RAF, he survived over 420 operational sorties, shooting down scores of enemy aircraft while friends and comrades lost their lives in the deadly skies above Europe.


THE BIG SHOW, his extraordinary account of the war, has been described as the greatest pilot's…


Book cover of A Gathering of Men

Martin Campbell Author Of Sailor's Heart

From my list on true courage in facing danger when afraid.

Who am I?

I am a Scottish writer who has published two books, one about poker and plumbing (Bad Beat Hotel) and the other about the treatment of men who sailed in the WW2 Arctic convoys and were unable to continue fighting (Sailor’s Heart). I’m interested in how people work and how they can be “repaired” when they wear out, malfunction, or break. My professional background is in clinical psychology and the study of human behaviour. I chose “cowards who become heroes” as my book theme because I’m constantly amazed by people’s resilience when faced with the most terrible circumstances.

Martin's book list on true courage in facing danger when afraid

Martin Campbell Why did Martin love this book?

I may be going out on a limb here, but I suspect that Rona Simmons was never a member of the 100th Bomb Group in WW2 combat, which makes this book all the more remarkable. It is her choice of details that make the story so convincing, powerfully evoking the times and the places.  As is often the case with truly great stories, truth trumps fiction. This isn’t historical fiction. It transcends genres, which may be a headscratcher for booksellers, but is a delight for readers like me.

The airmen, face the spinning barrels of a gun in a game of aerial Russian roulette on every mission. In a tale of honour, brotherhood, and true courage, with a twist in the tail that could only come from real life. 

By Rona Simmons,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Gathering of Men as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Candor, North Carolina. The town barber brandishes a copy of the May 1927 Charlotte Observer-on the front page, Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis on its cross-country flight. At the outskirts of town, best friends Lake, Roger, and Jim take turns hurling their wingless crate down a hill. Eyes closed, they imagine their future alongside Lindy.Pearl Harbor changes everything. The boys will have their chance to fly-not over North Carolina farm fields, but across Germany on bombing runs, facing a determined Luftwaffe. The odds of completing their tours of duty are slim.A Gathering of Men is the account of the…


Book cover of No Ordinary Pilot: One Young Man’s Extraordinary Exploits in World War II

Michael Tappenden Author Of Pegasus to Paradise

From my list on war that show the awful impact on the individual.

Who am I?

On D-Day 1944, three gliders carrying elite British soldiers landed to capture and hold the vital Pegasus bridge. In the first glider to land was my father, Ted Tappenden. Ted was one of several close relatives who served with distinction in WW2 including a naval officer and two fighter pilots. It was then no surprise when instead of following my grammar school direction to University, I volunteered instead to serve with the Parachute Regiment (my degree came later). My close connection with the military allowed me an insight into both the physical and mental strain and the awful consequences that might afflict those who serve and their nearest and dearest.

Michael's book list on war that show the awful impact on the individual

Michael Tappenden Why did Michael love this book?

This book is written about my uncle Bob Allen. He was a career RAF officer, not easy to know, quite distant and intimidating, and he had a secret.

This is a true story that lay deliberately hidden for fifty years until unearthed on his death by the author. I say deliberately because of the need – common-felt amongst survivors of war – to remain tight-lipped. Even when his hand-written memoirs were discovered, they had been written in the third person. But this is the story of an ordinary man caught up in extraordinary times. He joined the RAF aged nineteen, was flying a Hurricane in dogfights that year, saw action in West Africa, in Normandy at D-Day, was shot down, presumed killed and captured by the SS. Interrogated by the Gestapo and sent to Stalag-Luft 3. In 1945, he suffered one of the infamous winter marches on which many POWs…

By Suzanne Campbell-Jones,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked No Ordinary Pilot as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

After a lifetime in the RAF, Group Captain Bob Allen, finally allowed his children and grandchildren to see his official flying log. It contained the line: 'KILLED WHILST ON OPERATIONS'. He refused to answer any further questions, leaving instead a memoir of his life during World War II.

Joining up aged 19, within six months he was in No.1 Squadron flying a Hurricane in a dog fight over the Channel. For almost two years he lived in West Africa, fighting Germany's Vichy French allies, as well as protecting the Southern Atlantic supply routes. Returning home at Christmas 1942, he retrained…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in fighter pilots, aviation, and WW2 aviation?

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