100 books like I Could Never Be So Lucky Again

By James H. Doolittle, Carroll V. Glines,

Here are 100 books that I Could Never Be So Lucky Again fans have personally recommended if you like I Could Never Be So Lucky Again. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of Fly for Your Life: The Story of R. R. Stanford Tuck

Jay A. Stout Author Of Jayhawk: Love, Loss, Liberation, and Terror Over the Pacific

From my list on personal accounts of World War II air combat.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an aviation historian and writer, a defense analyst, and a retired, combat-experienced, Marine Corps fighter pilot. I am one of the lucky ones. Since early childhood, I wanted nothing more than to become a fighter pilot. It was a combination of good fortune, hard work, and a bit of talent that made it possible for me to realize that dream. I was inspired by the memoirs and recollections of World War II fighter pilots, and I read every book on the topic that I could find.  Following my military service, I transitioned from a reader to a writer; my experience as a military pilot helps to make my books real and credible.

Jay's book list on personal accounts of World War II air combat

Jay A. Stout Why did Jay love this book?

A classic biography about one of the Royal Air Force’s most colorful fighter pilots during the early part of the war.  Robert Stanford Tuck was born into a wealthy family, but had an individualistic spirit that was sometimes at odds with that family.  Prior to the war, he went to sea aboard a tramp steamer where he did much growing up. Upon his return, he was drawn to the excitement of flight and joined the Royal Air Force. Not an intrinsically gifted pilot, he nearly washed out of training, but ultimately flourished. He excelled as a leader as one of the “few” during the Battle of Britain. 

By Larry Forrester,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Fly for Your Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the story of a magnificent pilot, a reckless, steely-nerved warrior of the sky, feared by the Luftwaffe and known as a legend in the Royal Air Force Fighter Command. He was shot down four times, wounded twice, crash landed in the Channel, and survived two air collisions. Officially, he bagged 29 enemy planes. Unofficially, he destroyed 35. He won the Distinguished Service Order and was only the second man in history to gain a second bar to the Distinguished Flying Cross. He was a national hero recognized by his King, his Queen, and the people of the world.…


Book cover of Flights of Passage: Recollections of a World War II Aviator

Jay A. Stout Author Of Jayhawk: Love, Loss, Liberation, and Terror Over the Pacific

From my list on personal accounts of World War II air combat.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an aviation historian and writer, a defense analyst, and a retired, combat-experienced, Marine Corps fighter pilot. I am one of the lucky ones. Since early childhood, I wanted nothing more than to become a fighter pilot. It was a combination of good fortune, hard work, and a bit of talent that made it possible for me to realize that dream. I was inspired by the memoirs and recollections of World War II fighter pilots, and I read every book on the topic that I could find.  Following my military service, I transitioned from a reader to a writer; my experience as a military pilot helps to make my books real and credible.

Jay's book list on personal accounts of World War II air combat

Jay A. Stout Why did Jay love this book?

Perhaps the very best crafted book of this selection, this is a remarkable story about a relatively unremarkable combat career.  Samuel Hynes—who later taught at Northwestern and Princeton—gives the reader not just a rote recounting of his experiences as a Marine Corps pilot during the war, but he also shares what and how he felt. He is unwaveringly honest, and includes an account of a sexual encounter that at the very least causes the reader to reflect on the morals of that time. His book is a refreshing look behind the façade of “The Greatest Generation,” and reassures the reader that, other than circumstances, there is little that distinguishes individuals from one generation to the next.

By Samuel Hynes,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Samuel Hynes served as a consultant on "The War", directed and produced by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, and appears on camera in several episodes.

"The War" is a seven-part, 14-hour documentary series that debuts on PBS on Sunday, September 23, 2007.

Sam Hynes was eighteen when he left his Minnesota home for navy flight school in 1943. By the time the war ended he was a veteran Marine pilot, still not quite twenty-one, and had flown more than a hundred missions in the Pacific theater. In this eloquent narrative, by turns dramatic, funny, and elegiac, Hynes recalls those extraordinary…


Book cover of Combat Crew: The Story of 25 Combat Missions Over Europe From the Daily Journal

Jay A. Stout Author Of Jayhawk: Love, Loss, Liberation, and Terror Over the Pacific

From my list on personal accounts of World War II air combat.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an aviation historian and writer, a defense analyst, and a retired, combat-experienced, Marine Corps fighter pilot. I am one of the lucky ones. Since early childhood, I wanted nothing more than to become a fighter pilot. It was a combination of good fortune, hard work, and a bit of talent that made it possible for me to realize that dream. I was inspired by the memoirs and recollections of World War II fighter pilots, and I read every book on the topic that I could find.  Following my military service, I transitioned from a reader to a writer; my experience as a military pilot helps to make my books real and credible.

Jay's book list on personal accounts of World War II air combat

Jay A. Stout Why did Jay love this book?

The odds of completing a full combat tour as a bomber crewman with the Eighth Air Force over Europe during 1943 were about twenty percent. John Comer, a B-17 flight engineer and top turret gunner, arrived in England during that time and his descriptions of air combat are well worth the read.  Perhaps just as valuable are his descriptions of the relationships between his comrades, the non-combat aspects of his life as a combat crewman, and the sheer, mental and physical exhaustion that such duty exacted on the men.

By John Comer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

What People Are Saying About Combat Crew: “I find your remarkable book, Combat Crew, engrossing. It’s one of the best records of aerial combat in World War II I’ve ever read, and I want to tell you how impressed I am.” -Charlton Heston, actor “Combat Crew was a very special experience for me to read. You certainly put it down the way it was.” -James Stewart, actor “The author flew on many of the most violent air raids flows by the United States 8th Air Force during World War II. Combat Crew gives the reader an accurate, dramatic, and firsthand,…


Book cover of God is My Co-Pilot

Jay A. Stout Author Of Jayhawk: Love, Loss, Liberation, and Terror Over the Pacific

From my list on personal accounts of World War II air combat.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an aviation historian and writer, a defense analyst, and a retired, combat-experienced, Marine Corps fighter pilot. I am one of the lucky ones. Since early childhood, I wanted nothing more than to become a fighter pilot. It was a combination of good fortune, hard work, and a bit of talent that made it possible for me to realize that dream. I was inspired by the memoirs and recollections of World War II fighter pilots, and I read every book on the topic that I could find.  Following my military service, I transitioned from a reader to a writer; my experience as a military pilot helps to make my books real and credible.

Jay's book list on personal accounts of World War II air combat

Jay A. Stout Why did Jay love this book?

The archetypal combat flying story, this is an easy, fun, and eye-opening book that Scott wrote only months after returning from the war. Scott clearly loved to fly and had done so since the early 1930s after graduating from West Point. Resourceful and tenacious, he received command of a fighter group in China after having been officially told the previous year that he was too old (at the ripe old age of 33) to fly fighters. This is a rollicking read that will be enjoyed by readers of all ages.

By Robert L. Scott,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked God is My Co-Pilot as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book was issued during World War II, in conformity with all government regulations controlling the use of paper and other materials (so stated on copyright page). The author, Colonel Robert L. Scott, Jr., consistently scheduled himself as a pilot on all possible missions. He led all types of combat missions, but specialized in the most dangerous, such as long-range flights to strafe from minimum altitudes Jap airdromes, motor vehicles, and shipping deep in enemy territory. Colonel Scott’s group of fighters always operated against greatly superior numbers of the enemy. Often the odds were five to one against them. This…


Book cover of Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War

Robert O. Harder Author Of First Crossing: The 1919 Trans-Atlantic Flight of Alcock and Brown

From my list on aviation history from a triple-rated pilot.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since I was old enough to get around under my own power, I wanted to be a pilot, a result of idol-worshiping my mother’s brother, Orvis M. Nelson, president of Transocean Airlines. His influence led to my being named a Distinguished Military Graduate in Air Force ROTC, navigator school (sadly, my eyes were slightly myopic), bombardier school (145 Vietnam War combat missions); then later a civilian private & commercial pilot with instrument and multi-engine ratings, and Certificated Flight Instructor (CFI). After settling for a business career rather than airline pilot, I now vicariously pursue my first love through writing.

Robert's book list on aviation history from a triple-rated pilot

Robert O. Harder Why did Robert love this book?

As a bomber guy to the core, I approached this book with a silent groan—ugh, another Tom Cruise tale. Was I ever wrong! ‘Forty-Second Boyd’ (maximum time it took him to defeat all challengers) was not only a great fighter pilot, his combat tactic discoveries changed the way every air force in the world flies and fights today. Many consider him the father of the legendary F-15 and F-16 fighters.

Coram’s knowledge and writing style are superb. Boyd was a complicated man; absolutely brilliant with insight and slide rule, a poor father and worse husband—loud, abrasive, and profane. He rarely met a general he couldn’t offend. Despite these drawbacks, Coram skillfully shows how Boyd somehow overcame all professional obstacles, though in the end at great personal cost.

By Robert Coram,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A detailed portrait of American fighter pilot John Boyd examines his distinguished military career during the Korean War and his postwar efforts as a military theorist who took on the entrenched Pentagon bureaucracy to transform the art of modern warfare and the American military with his revolution


Book cover of Bernt Balchen: Polar Aviator

Robert O. Harder Author Of First Crossing: The 1919 Trans-Atlantic Flight of Alcock and Brown

From my list on aviation history from a triple-rated pilot.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since I was old enough to get around under my own power, I wanted to be a pilot, a result of idol-worshiping my mother’s brother, Orvis M. Nelson, president of Transocean Airlines. His influence led to my being named a Distinguished Military Graduate in Air Force ROTC, navigator school (sadly, my eyes were slightly myopic), bombardier school (145 Vietnam War combat missions); then later a civilian private & commercial pilot with instrument and multi-engine ratings, and Certificated Flight Instructor (CFI). After settling for a business career rather than airline pilot, I now vicariously pursue my first love through writing.

Robert's book list on aviation history from a triple-rated pilot

Robert O. Harder Why did Robert love this book?

My grandfather was born in Norway and growing up I identified with that heritage. Bernt Balchen was the greatest of all of Norway’s pioneering flyers. A stunningly handsome Viking, there was little he couldn’t do; a consummate “blind-flying” pilot, navigator, engineer, polar explorer, World War Two military leader, and, amazingly, a fine watercolor artist.

His critical contributions to Admiral Richard Byrd’s famous trans-Atlantic and Pole flights made Byrd very jealous. An adroit swindler, Byrd (Balchen proved he lied about being the first man to reach the North Pole) determined to ruin Balchen’s reputation (mostly successfully) because the Norwegian could prove Byrd faked the navigation records. Author Glines’ work is masterful; he roots out all these intrigues, while simultaneously recording all the incredible accomplishments of a great flyer.

By Carroll V. Glines,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

He set polar flight records, organized a series of daring wartime air operations, and became a leader in Arctic aviation. But despite these achievements, Norwegian-American aviator Bernt Balchen saw his public image and military career repeatedly undermined by his one-time mentor, the famous and influential Admiral Richard Byrd. In this new biography, Carroll Glines describes how Byrd's respect for Balchen's talents gradually eroded even as Balchen steadily gained a wider reputation for courage and technical skill. Glines contends that Byrd derailed Balchen's postwar promotion to brigadier general, forcing his retirement from the military in 1956. He also documents how Balchen's…


Book cover of Rickenbacker an Autobiography

Robert O. Harder Author Of First Crossing: The 1919 Trans-Atlantic Flight of Alcock and Brown

From my list on aviation history from a triple-rated pilot.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since I was old enough to get around under my own power, I wanted to be a pilot, a result of idol-worshiping my mother’s brother, Orvis M. Nelson, president of Transocean Airlines. His influence led to my being named a Distinguished Military Graduate in Air Force ROTC, navigator school (sadly, my eyes were slightly myopic), bombardier school (145 Vietnam War combat missions); then later a civilian private & commercial pilot with instrument and multi-engine ratings, and Certificated Flight Instructor (CFI). After settling for a business career rather than airline pilot, I now vicariously pursue my first love through writing.

Robert's book list on aviation history from a triple-rated pilot

Robert O. Harder Why did Robert love this book?

My Uncle Orvis Nelson founded Transocean Airlines in 1946 (during the Korean War; the world’s largest non-scheduled carrier) and ever since I have been fascinated by airline pioneers. Rickenbacker was a celebrated race car driver, 26-victory World War One fighter pilot, Medal of Honor winner, Rickenbacker Cars automotive designer, owner/operator of the Indianapolis Speedway, and long-time president of Eastern Airlines.

"My life has been filled with adventures that have brought me face to face with death." So begins his book; no idle boast, including 24 days stranded on a flimsy Pacific raft and a terrible, disfiguring airline crash. Rickenbacker tells his story in a pleasing, readable style, though seldom missing an opportunity to toot his own horn. No matter—if ever a flyer earned that right, it was Captain Eddie.

By Edward V. Rickenbacker,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Signed By Rickenbacker on Endpaper..458 Pages


Book cover of Never Call Me a Hero: A Legendary American Dive-Bomber Pilot Remembers the Battle of Midway

Robert O. Harder Author Of First Crossing: The 1919 Trans-Atlantic Flight of Alcock and Brown

From my list on aviation history from a triple-rated pilot.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since I was old enough to get around under my own power, I wanted to be a pilot, a result of idol-worshiping my mother’s brother, Orvis M. Nelson, president of Transocean Airlines. His influence led to my being named a Distinguished Military Graduate in Air Force ROTC, navigator school (sadly, my eyes were slightly myopic), bombardier school (145 Vietnam War combat missions); then later a civilian private & commercial pilot with instrument and multi-engine ratings, and Certificated Flight Instructor (CFI). After settling for a business career rather than airline pilot, I now vicariously pursue my first love through writing.

Robert's book list on aviation history from a triple-rated pilot

Robert O. Harder Why did Robert love this book?

I was so taken by this book, I re-read it two weeks later. Dusty’s story (you’ll love how he got the nickname!) is ably guided by Naval historians Timothy and Laura Orr. The result is as smooth and intimate an aviator autobiography as you’re likely to read. 

Although humble and deeply religious, retired U.S. Navy Captain and Navy Cross winner Jack Kleiss was daring even as a boy, seldom turning down a dare. Which explains a lot as to his willingness to push over a SBD Dauntless dive-bomber into a terrifying vertical dive from 20,000 feet, before pulling at near wave-top level. During the 1942 Battle of Midway, Dusty scored massive hits on three enemy ships (two of them aircraft carriers), the only man to do so. Despite the title’s disclaimer, Captain Kleiss was indeed a hero.

By N. Jack "Dusty" Kleiss, Timothy Orr, Laura Orr

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Never Call Me a Hero as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hailed as "the single most effective pilot at Midway" (World War II magazine), Dusty Kleiss struck and sank three Japanese warships at the Battle of Midway, including two aircraft carriers, helping turn the tide of the Second World War. This is his extraordinary memoir.

NATIONAL BESTSELLER * "AN INSTANT CLASSIC" -Dallas Morning News

On the morning of June 4, 1942, high above the tiny Pacific atoll of Midway, Lt. (j.g.) "Dusty" Kleiss burst out of the clouds and piloted his SBD Dauntless into a near-vertical dive aimed at the heart of Japan's Imperial Navy, which six months earlier had ruthlessly…


Book cover of Masters of the Air: How The Bomber Boys Broke Down the Nazi War Machine

James B. Conroy Author Of The Devils Will Get No Rest: FDR, Churchill, and the Plan That Won the War

From my list on making history live and breathe.

Why am I passionate about this?

History has enthralled me from a very young age, drawn as a child as I was to Vikings, cowboys and Indians, medieval knights, ancient conquerors, and mythological gods. After practicing law in Boston for 38 years, I retired to write history full time, not to string dates and facts together in a powder-dry mix but to try to breathe life into the vibrant men and women who enlivened their times and can shed a timeless light on the challenges of ours. Hard work though it is, I have never been so satisfied with life.

James' book list on making history live and breathe

James B. Conroy Why did James love this book?

I have read many excellent books about World War Two, but none has kept me shaking my head in awe like this stunning account of the decisive US bombing campaign against Germany. Masters of the Air is an intensely personal account of the impossibly brave men and boys – for boys they often were – who bombed Nazi Germany into defeat.

Most of them by far were wounded, killed, or imprisoned, often in appalling conditions, after bailing out of plunging aircraft. It is hard to imagine a more moving account of tenacious courage and unimaginable stress or a more thorough, intriguing presentation of the air war over Germany.

I could not get enough of this vivid, inspiring book.

By Donald L. Miller,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Seconds after Brady's plane was hit, the Hundredth's entire formation was broken up and scattered by swarms of single-engine planes, and by rockets launched by twin-engine planes that flew parallel'

Meet the Flying Fortresses of the American Eighth Air Force, Britain's Lancaster comrades, who helped to bring down the Nazis

Historian and World War II expert Donald Miller brings us the story of the bomber boys who brought the war to Hitler's doorstep. Unlike ground soldiers they slept on clean beds, drank beer in local pubs, and danced to the swing music of the travelling Air Force bands. But they…


Book cover of Bones of My Grandfather: Reclaiming a Lost Hero of World War II

Joy Neal Kidney Author Of What Leora Never Knew: A Granddaughter's Quest for Answers

From my list on research of World War II casualties.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm the oldest granddaughter of Leora, who lost three sons during WWII. To learn what happened to them, I studied casualty and missing aircraft reports, missions reports, and read unit histories. I’ve corresponded with veterans who knew one of the brothers, who witnessed the bomber hit the water off New Guinea, and who accompanied one brother’s body home. I’m still in contact with the family members of two crew members on the bomber. The companion book, Leora’s Letters, is the family story of the five Wilson brothers who served, but only two came home.

Joy's book list on research of World War II casualties

Joy Neal Kidney Why did Joy love this book?

Bones of My Grandfather is a grandson’s search for answers to the astonishing saga of a soldier lost in brutal fighting on a remote atoll in the Pacific and the hole that loss left in his family and their descendants. His loss was in the headlines because his family was well-known and wealthy, but even that didn't help them bring home his remains.

Woven among details of the battle are pockets of family history, the politics of finding and identifying remains, discussion of the War Graves Registration Service, amphibious warfare history, and even the politics of awarding war medals, the Medal of Honor had been denied to Bonnyman in 1944, but awarded to him two years later.

By Clay Bonnyman Evans,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"War, reclamation, and what Tim O'Brien called 'the Lives of the Dead' are eternal literary themes for men. Clay Bonnyman Evans has honored that lineage with this masterful melding of military history and personal quest."-Ron Powers, co-author of New York Times #1 bestseller Flags of Our Fathers

In November 1943, Marine 1st Lt. Alexander Bonnyman, Jr. was mortally wounded while leading a successful assault on a critical Japanese fortification on the Pacific atoll of Tarawa, and posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military honor. The brutal, bloody 76-hour battle would ultimately claim the lives of more than…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Medal of Honor, Tokyo, and presidential biography?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Medal of Honor, Tokyo, and presidential biography.

Medal Of Honor Explore 12 books about Medal of Honor
Tokyo Explore 89 books about Tokyo
Presidential Biography Explore 19 books about presidential biography