Age of Airpower

Age of Airpower : Its Rise and Fall

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One of the world's best military historians tells the story of air power, its remarkable dominance as an instrument of war throughout the second half of the twentieth century, and now argues provocatively that it is obsolete, despite the billions of dollars we spend. There are many myths about air power, among them the claims so often made about technological progress making modern air power more effective than it used to be. It is not true that precision guided munitions have made fighter bombers more effective against mobile targets in particular than their predecessors in World War II; the so-called "Revolution in Military Affairs" notwithstanding, US ground troops calling for air support in Iraq in 2003 did not receive it any faster than Allied forces did in Tunisia in 1943 or in France in 1944-45. If air power is so important, why is it that the number of military aircraft being procured around the world each year has fallen from over 200,000 in 1944 to a few hundred today? If the idea of air war is anything more than a notion, where is it likely to happen? Many kinds of military aircraft can be, indeed are being, replaced by other systems such as helicopters, ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and unmanned airborne vehicles (UAVs). Often there is no very good reason why those systems should be operated by an independent air force and not by some other kind of organisation. There is the relentless spread of forms of war such as terrorism, guerrilla and insurgency in which aircraft have always been much less useful than in conventional warfare. In these wars, so vast is the disproportion between the cost of military aircraft and what they can actually achieve that it can only be described as preposterous. Martin Van Creveld shows that air forces are an institutional relic; their glorious history has not prepared them for a future. As he has been writing the book, Van Creveld has given a lecture outlining the thesis to military around the world. It has led both to applause and near violence in the reaction of the audiences. The book will provoke a similarly spirited debate - modernizers and economists will find themselves lined up against the veteran flyboys and bomber commanders determined to argue that you can't win a war without air more

Product details

  • Hardback | 528 pages
  • 165.1 x 236.22 x 45.72mm | 793.78g
  • PublicAffairs,U.S.
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 158648981X
  • 9781586489816
  • 702,244

Review quote

New York Times, April 30, 2011 "Martin van Creveld's work is always worth reading. 'The Age of Airpower' is equal parts historical survey, idiosyncratic editorializing, and bold prediction. Airpower advocates and critics alike need to engage with this book."CHOICE, August 2011"Morozov (contributing editor, Foreign Policy) takes on the "Google Doctrine," the enthusiastic belief in the liberating power of technology to promote democracy and improve human life. He rightly points out that technology is almost always a double-edged sword guided by the hopes and fears of users and regulators more than by the inherent characteristics of the technology itself. He provides numerous examples of how authoritarian regimes have used technology to track people, thwarting privacy and basic freedoms. By pointing out that social problems are seldom, if ever, "solved" by technology and that building public policy around technological fixes diverts attention from the root causes, the book is a good antidote to the optimistic technological determinists."Midwest Book Review, June 2011"No military collection should be without this" Survival: Global Politics and Strategy, August/September 2011show more

About Martin Van Creveld

Martin Van Creveld is an internationally recognized authority on military history and strategy. The author of eighteen books, translated into ten languages, he has lectured or taught at virtually every strategic institute, military or civilian, in the Western world, including the U.S. Naval War College. Born in the Netherlands, he has degrees from the London School of Economics and from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he has been on the faculty since 1971. He lives in more

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75 ratings
3.57 out of 5 stars
5 20% (15)
4 35% (26)
3 32% (24)
2 9% (7)
1 4% (3)
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