10 books like Fighter Pilot

By Ed Rasimus, Christina Olds, Robin Olds

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Fighter Pilot. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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A Higher Call

By Adam Makos, Larry Alexander,

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

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.  

A Higher Call

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…


Hitler's Jewish Soldiers

By Bryan Mark Rigg,

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

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.

Hitler's Jewish Soldiers

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…


Sons and Soldiers

By Bruce Henderson,

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

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. 

Sons and Soldiers

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…


Devotion

By Adam Makos,

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

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.

Devotion

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…


Fork-Tailed Devil

By Martin Caidin,

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

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? 

Fork-Tailed Devil

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.


Into the Teeth of the Tiger

By Donald S. Lopez,

Book cover of Into the Teeth of the Tiger

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.

Into the Teeth of the Tiger

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.…


The Big Show

By Pierre Clostermann,

Book cover of The Big Show

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…

The Big Show

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…


A Gathering of Men

By Rona Simmons,

Book cover of A Gathering of Men

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. 

A Gathering of Men

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…


No Ordinary Pilot

By Suzanne Campbell-Jones,

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

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…

No Ordinary Pilot

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…


First Light

By Geoffrey Wellum,

Book cover of First Light: The True Story of the Boy Who Became a Man in the War-Torn Skies above Britain

First Light is also a memoir by a Battle of Britain veteran, but Wellum was not an ace. Wellum was a very young and very junior pilot during the Battle, and this book, written with the wisdom of hindsight by a mature Wellum, is more reflective and analytical than Deere’s account. That is its value. Wellum is a masterful writer and possesses a marked ability to evoke a mood. It is precisely because Wellum writes with mature understanding that he captures so well the innocence and naivety of his past self. This book does not educate one about the Battle of Britain, but it pulls you into the cockpit and the heart of a young man caught up in it. A wonderful read.

First Light

By Geoffrey Wellum,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The first-hand account of a 17-year-old Englishman who became an ace fighter pilot with the RAF, the youngest at the time, and flew Spitfires during the Battle of Britain.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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