The Flying Tigers: The Untold Story of the American Pilots Who Waged a Secret War Against Japan Before Pearl Harbor

THE FLYING TIGERS                                    SAM KLEINER

Sam Kleiner’s The Flying Tigers uncovers the hidden story of the group of young American men and women who crossed the Pacific before Pearl Harbor to risk their lives defending China. Led by legendary army pilot Claire Chennault, these men left behind an America still at peace in the summer of 1941 using false identities to travel across the Pacific to a run-down airbase in the jungles of Burma. In the wake of the disaster at Pearl Harbor this motley crew was the first group of Americans to take on the Japanese in combat, shooting down hundreds of Japanese aircraft in the skies over Burma, Thailand, and China. At a time when the Allies were being defeated across the globe, the Flying Tigers’ exploits gave hope to Americans and Chinese alike.

Kleiner takes readers into the cockpits of their iconic shark-nosed P-40 planes—one of the most familiar images of the war—as the Tigers perform nail-biting missions against the Japanese. He profiles the outsize personalities involved in the operation, including Chennault, whose aggressive tactics went against the prevailing wisdom of military strategy; Greg “Pappy” Boyington, the man who would become the nation’s most beloved pilot until he was shot down and became a POW; Emma Foster, one of the nurses in the unit who had a passionate romance with a pilot named John Petach; and Madame Chiang Kai-shek herself, who first brought Chennault to China and who would come to visit these young Americans.

A dramatic story of a covert operation whose very existence would have scandalized an isolationist United States, The Flying Tigers is the unforgettable account of a group of Americans whose heroism changed the world, and who cemented an alliance between the United States and China as both nations fought against seemingly insurmountable odds.


This story is more about the history that gets lost and retold by the movies and over time that is what people are led to believe. I was one of those people. I had always thought that these group of men fought for China against Japan as Japan was working at taking over China and other countries before attacking us. True that the leader of the group Claire L. Chennault was wanting to fight against them and China he did not have the resources to that. You get a look at the behind the scenes of yes backdoor deals done with F.D.R. knowledge and this gets really in full gear after Pearl Harbor. The author uses diaries, notes, some interviews, and documents that have been unsealed for a full look at this look into what the established military wanted people not to know about including their excellent combat record. I had already known about ‘’Pappy” Boyington, but this only goes along with some of the other books I have read about him. I did like how the author takes a look at the different pilots and maintenance crews, and especially the store with a nurse named Emma Foster. Overall I found this to be a very good book and something interesting about the war in the Pacific that had not been told before. A good piece of writing and well researched. I received this book from I gave it 5 stars. Follow us at

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