Air Power Reading List

From Balloons to Drones is an online scholarly platform that seeks to provide analysis and debate about air power history, theory, and contemporary operations in their broadest sense, including space and cyber power.

The From Balloons to Drones air power reading list is an outgrowth of our book reviews and the ‘Air War Books’ series. In the latter series, air power specialists reflect on the ten books that have most shaped their writing. As such, this reading list seeks to bring together those titles and volumes we have reviewed in a single curated bibliography. As a result, the list is not comprehensive, and we will continue to add titles to the list when we publish new book reviews and articles in the ‘Air War Books’ series.

N.B. Links are to books we have reviewed at From Balloons to Drones.

Introductory Texts

  1. Buckley, John, Air Power in the Age of Total War (London: UCL Press, 1999).
  2. Higham, Robin, and Harris, Stephen J. (eds.), Why Air Forces Fail: The Anatomy of Defeat, Revised and Expanded Edition (Lexington, KT: University Press of Kentucky, 2016).
  3. Ledwidge, Frank, Aerial Warfare: The Battle for the Skies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018).
  4. Olsen, John Andreas (ed.), A History of Air Warfare (Washington DC: Potomac, 2010).
  5. Olsen, John Andreas (ed.), Routledge Handbook of Air Power (Abingdon: Routledge, 2018).

Air Power Strategy, Theory and Doctrine

  1. Bailey Jr., Richard J., Forsyth Jr., James W., and Yeisley, Mark O. (eds), Strategy: Context and Adaptation from Archidamus to Airpower (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2016).
  2. Biddle, Tami Davis, Rhetoric and Reality in Air Warfare: The Evolution of British and American Ideas about Strategic Bombing, 1914-1945 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004).
  3. Meilinger, Philip (ed.), The Paths of Heaven: The Evolution of Airpower Theory (Maxwell AFB, AL: Air University Press, 1997).
  4. Meilinger, Philip S., Limiting Risk in America’s Wars: Airpower, Asymmetrics, and a New Strategic Paradigm (Annapolis, MD, Naval Institute Press, 2017).
  5. Slessor, John, Air Power and Armies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1936).
  6. Sykes, Frederick, Aviation in Peace and War (London: E. Arnold & Co., 1922).
  7. de Seversky, Alexander P., Victory through Air Power (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1942).

Space Power Strategy, Theory and Doctrine

  1. Johnson-Freese, Joan, Space Warfare in the 21st Century: Arming the Heavens (Abingdon: Routledge, 2017).

Contemporary Air Power Challenges

  1. Grayson, Kyle, Cultural Politics of Targeted Killing: On Drones, Counter-Insurgency, and Violence (Abingdon: Routledge, 2016).
  2. Kreuzer, Michael P., Drones and the Future of Air Warfare: The Evolution of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (New York, NY: Routledge, 2016).
  3. Lee, Peter, Reaper Force: Inside Britain’s Drone Wars (London: John Blake Publishing London, 2018).

Air Power Leadership

  1. Zentner, John J., The Art of Wing Leadership and Aircrew Morale in Combat, CADRE Paper No. 11 (Maxwell AFB, AL: Air University Press, 2001).
  2. Copp, Dewitt S., A Few Great Captains: The Men and Events That Shaped the Development of U.S. Air Power (McLean, VA: EPM Publications, 1989).

Air Power Education

  1. Haun, Phil (ed.), Lectures of the Air Corps Tactical School and American Strategic Bombing in World War II (Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 2019).
  2. Mason, Tony, History of the Royal Air Force Staff College, 1922-1972 (Bracknell, RAF Staff College, 1972).

Air Power History – Official Histories

  1. Wise, S.F., The Official History of the Royal Canadian Air Force, Volume 1: Canadian Airmen and the First World War (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1980).

Air Power History – Pre-First World War

  1. Gollin, Alfred, The Impact of Air Power on the British People and their Government (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1989).
  2. Hallion, Richard, Taking Flight: Inventing the Aerial Age, from Antiquity Through the First World War (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003).

Air Power History – First World War

  1. Claasen, Adam, Fearless: The Extraordinary Untold Story of New Zealand’s Great War Airmen (Auckland: Massey University Press, 2017).
  2. Cooper, Malcolm, The Birth of Independent Air Power: British Air Policy in the First World War (London: Allen and Unwin, 1986).
  3. Dye, Peter, The Bridge to Airpower: Logistic Support for Royal Flying Corps Operations on the Western Front, 1914-18 (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2015).
  4. Frandsen, Bert, Hat in the Ring: The Birth of American Air Power in the Great War (Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 2003).
  5. Grattan, Robert, The Origins of Air War: The Development of Military Air Strategy in World War I. (London: IB Tauris, 2009).
  6. Haslop, Dennis, Early Naval Air Power: British and German Approaches (Abingdon: Routledge, 2018).
  7. Hooton, E.R., War over the Trenches: Air Power and the Western Front Campaigns 1916-1918 (Hersham: Midland Publishing, 2010).
  8. Molkentin, Michael, Fire in the Sky: The Australian Flying Corps in the First World War (Crows Nest: Allen & Unwin, 2010).
  9. Overy, Richard, RAF: The Birth of the World’s First Air Force (New York: Norton & Company, 2018).
  10. Philpott, Maryam, Air and Sea Power in World War I: Combat and Experience in the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Navy (London: I.B. Tauris, 2013).
  11. Pugh, James, The Royal Flying Corps, the Western Front and the Control of the Air, 1914-1918 (Abingdon: Routledge, 2017).
  12. Streckfuss, James, Eyes All Over the Sky: Aerial Reconnaissance in the First World War (Oxford: Casemate Publishers, 2016).

Air Power History – Interwar

  1. Henning, Lori, Harnessing the Airplane: American and British Cavalry Responses to a New Technology, 1903–1939 (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 2019).
  2. Morris, Craig F., The Origins of American Strategic Bombing Theory (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2017).
  3. James, John, The Paladins: The Story of the RAF up to the Outbreak of World War II (London: Macdonald and Company, 1990).
  4. Renner, Stephen, Broken Wings: The Hungarian Air Force, 1918-45 (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2016).
  5. Spencer, Alex, British Imperial Air Power: The Royal Air Forces and the Defense of Australia and New Zealand Between the World Wars (West Lafayette: Purdue University Press, 2020).

Air Power History – Second World War

  1. Bechthold, Mike, Flying to Victory: Raymond Collishaw and the Western Desert Campaign, 1940-1941 (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 2017).
  2. Blazich Jr., Frank. A., An Honorable Place in American Air Power: Civil Air Patrol Coastal Operations, 1942-1943 (Maxwell, AL: Air University Press, 2020).
  3. Bourque, Stephen, Beyond the Beach: The Allied War Against France (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2018).
  4. Ehlers Jr., Robert S., The Mediterranean Air War: Airpower and Allied Victory in World War II (Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2015).
  5. English, Allan D., The Cream of the Crop: Canadian Aircrew, 1939-1945 (Montreal: McGill Queen’s University Press, 1996).
  6. Fitzgerald-Black, Alexander, Eagles Over Husky: The Allied Air Forces in the Sicilian Campaign, 14 May to 17 August 1943 (Solihull: Helion & Company, 2018).
  7. Gooderson, Ian, Air Power at the Battlefront: Allied Close Air Support in Europe, 1943-1945 (London: Frank Cass, 1998).
  8. Gray, Peter, The Leadership, Direction and Legitimacy of the RAF Bomber Offensive from Inception to 1945 (London: Continuum, 2012).
  9. Hughes, Thomas A., Over Lord: General Pete Quesada and the Triumph of Tactical Air Power in World War II (New York, NY: The Free Press, 1995).
  10. Kite, Ben, Through Adversity: Britain and the Commonwealth’s War in the Air 1939-1945 – Volume 1 (Warwick: Helion & Company Limited, 2019).
  11. MacKenzie, S.P., Flying Against Fate: Superstition and Allied Aircrews in World War II (Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2017).
  12. Miller, Donald, Masters of the Air: America’s Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War against Nazi Germany (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2006).
  13. O’Brien, Phillips Payson, How the War Was Won: Air-Sea Power and Allied Victory in World War II (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015).
  14. Overy, Richard, The Air War, 1939-1945 (London: Europa Publications, 1980).
  15. Overy, Richard, The Bombing War: Europe, 1939-1945 (London: Penguin, 2013).
  16. Scott, James, Black Snow: Curtis LeMay, the Firebombing of Tokyo, and the Road to the Atomic Bomb (W.W. Norton: New York, NY, 2022).
  17. Vlaun, Brian D., Selling Schweinfurt: Targeting, Assessment, and Marketing in the Air Campaign Against German Industry (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2020).

Air Power History – Cold War

  1. Anderegg, C.R., Sierra Hotel: Flying Fighters in the Decade After Vietnam (Washington DC: US Air Force History and Museums Program, 2001).
  2. Barnes, T.D., CIA Station D: Area 51 – The Complete Illustrated History of the CIA’s Station D at Area 51 (Danbury, CT: Begell House, 2021).
  3. Clodfelter, Mark, The Limits of Air Power: The American Bombing of North Vietnam (New York, NY: The Free Press, 1989).
  4. Davies, Steve, Red Eagles: America’s Secret MiGs (Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 2008).
  5. Deaile, Melvin, Always at War: Organizational Culture in Strategic Air Command, 1946-62 (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2018).
  6. Elward, Brad, TOPGUN – The Legacy: The Complete History of TOPGUN and Its Impact on Tactical Aviation (Atglen, PA: Schiffer Military, 2021).
  7. Fey, Peter, Bloody Sixteen: The USS Oriskany and Air Wing 16 during the Vietnam War (Lincoln, NE: Potomac Books, 2018).
  8. Fino, Steven A., Tiger Check: Automating the US Air Force Fighter Pilot in Air-to-Air Combat, 1950-1980 (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017).
  9. Goette, Richard, Sovereignty and Command in Canada-US Continental Air Defence, 1940-1957 (Vancouver, BC: University of British Columbia Press, 2018).
  10. Hannah, Craig, Striving for Air Superiority: The Tactical Air Command in Vietnam (College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press, 2001).
  11. Horwood, Ian, Interservice Rivalry and Airpower in the Vietnam War (For Leavenworth, KS: Combat Studies Institute Press, 2006).
  12. Laslie, Brian, The Air Force Way of War: U.S. Tactics and Training after Vietnam (Lexington: KT: University Press of Kentucky, 2015).
  13. Michel, Marshall, Clashes: Air Combat over North Vietnam, 1965-1972 (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1997).
  14. Michel, Marshall, The Eleven Days of Christmas: America’s Last Vietnam Battle (San Fransisco, CA: Encounter Books, 2001).
  15. Mrozek, Donald J., Air Power and the Ground War in Vietnam: Ideas and Actions (Maxwell, AL: Air University Press, 1988).
  16. Mrozek, Donald J., The US Air Force after Vietnam: Postwar Challenges and Potential for Responses (Maxwell, AL: Air University Press, 1988).
  17. Napier, Michael, Korean Air War: Sabres, Migs and Meteors, 1950-53 (Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 2021).
  18. Staaveren, Jacob Van, Gradual Failure: The Air War over North Vietnam, 1965-1966 (Washington DC: Air Force History and Museums Program, 2002).
  19. Thompson, Wayne, To Hanoi and Back: The United States Air Force and North Vietnam, 1966-1973 (Washinton DC: Air Force History and Museums Program, 2000).
  20. Tilford, Earl, Crosswinds: The Air Force’s Setup in Vietnam (College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press, 1993).
  21. Tovey, Tal, Tomcats and Eagles: The Development of the F-14 and F-15 in the Cold War (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press).
  22. Weintraub, Beverly, Wings of Gold: The Story of the First Women Naval Aviators (Lanhma, MD: Lyon Press, 2021).
  23. Worden, Mike, The Rise of the Fighter Generals: The Problem of Air Force Leadership, 1945–1982 (Maxwell, AL: Air University Press, 1998).

Air Power History – Post-Cold War

  1. Putney, Diane, Airpower Advantage: Planning the Gulf War Air Campaign (Washington D.C.: Air Force History and Museums Program, 2004).
  2. Lambeth, Benjamin, S., Airpower in the War against ISIS (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2021).
  3. Wrage, Stephen, and Cooper, Scott, No Fly Zones and International Security: Politics and Strategy (Abingdon: Routledge, 2019).

Air Power History – Non-period specific

  1. Dorn, A. Walter (ed.), Air Power in UN Operations: Wings for Peace (Farnham: Ashgate, 2014).
  2. Frederickson, Lewis, Armageddon and OKRA: Australia’s Air Operations in the Middle East a Century Apart (Newport, NSW: Big Sky Publishing, 2020).
  3. Higham, Robin, and Harris, Stephen J. (eds.), Why Air Forces Fail: The Anatomy of Defeat (Lexington, KT: The University Press of Kentucky, 2006).
  4. Morton, Tyler, From Kites to Cold War: The Evolution of Manned Airborne Reconnaissance (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2019).
  5. Olsen, John Andreas (ed.), Airpower Applied: U.S., NATO, and Israeli Combat Experience (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2017).
  6. Schultz, Timothy, The Problem with Pilots: How Physicians, Engineers, and Airpower Enthusiasts Redefined Flight (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2018).

Air Power History – Technology

  1. Golan, John, Lavi: The United States, Israel and the Controversial Fighter Jet (Lincoln NE: Potomac Books, 2016).
  2. Westwick, Peter, Stealth: The Secret Contest to Invent Invisible Aircraft (New York: Oxford University Press, 2020).

Space Power History

  1. Bilstein, Roger E., Stages to Saturn: A Technological History of the Apollo/Saturn Launch Vehicles (Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2003).
  2. Bowman, Geoffrey, A Long Voyage to the Moon: The Life of Naval Aviator and Apollo 17 Astronaut Ron Evans (Lincoln, NE: University Press of Nebraska, 2021).
  3. Burgess Colin (ed.), Footprints in the Dust: The Epic Voyages of Apollo, 1969-1975 (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2010).
  4. Causey, William F., John Houbolt:  The Unsung Hero of the Apollo Moon Landings (West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press, 2020).
  5. Clemons, Jack, Safely to Earth: The Men and Women who brought the Astronauts Home (Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2018).
  6. French, Francis and Burgess, Colin, In the Shadow of the Moon: A Challenging Journey to Tranquility, 1965-1969 (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2007).
  7. Hansen, James R., Dear Neil Armstrong: Letters to the First Man from All Mankind, (West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press, 2019).
  8. McCandless III, Bruce, Wonders All Around: The Incredible True Story of Astronaut Bruce McCandless II and the First Untethered Flight in Space (Austin, TX: Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2021).
  9. Pickering, J.L. and Bisney, John, Picturing Apollo 11: Rare Views and Undiscovered Moments (Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2019).
  10. Pickering, J.L, and Bisney, John, Picturing the Space Shuttle: The Early Years (Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2021).
  11. Siegal, Rebecca, To Fly Among The Stars: The Hidden Story of the Fight for Women Astronauts (New York, NY: Scholastic Focus, 2020).
  12. Stone, Robert, and Andres, Alan, Chasing the Moon: The People, the Politics, and the Promise that Launched America into the Space Age (New York, NY: Ballantine Books, 2019).
  13. Swift, Earl, Across the Airless Wilds: The Lunar Rover and the Triumph of the Final Moon Landings (New York, NY: Custom House, 2021).

Memoirs and Autobiographies

  1. Cobby, Arthur Henry, High Adventure (Melbourne: Robertson & Mullens, 1943).
  2. Flanagan, John, Vietnam Above the Treetops: A Forward Air Controller Reports (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1992).
  3. Hickson, Mandy, An Officer, Not a Gentleman: The Inspirational Journey of a Pioneering Female Fighter Pilot (London: Mandy Hickson, 2020).
  4. Honodel, David, The Phantom Vietnam War: An F-4 Pilot’s Combat over Laos (Denton, TX: University of North Texas Press, 2018).
  5. Lee, Arthur Gould, No Parachute (London: Jarrolds, 1968).
  6. Momyer, William, Airpower in Three Wars: World War II, Korea, Vietnam (Washington DC: US Government Printing Office, 1978).
  7. Olds, Robin, Fighter Pilot: The Memoirs of Legendary Ace Robin Olds (New York, NY: St Martin’s Press, 2010).
  8. Peck, Jr, Gaillard R., Sherman Lead: Flying the F-4D Phantom II in Vietnam (Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 2019).
  9. Rasimus, Ed, Palace Cobra: A Fighter Pilot in the Vietnam Air War (New York, NY: St Martin’s Press, 2006).
  10. Rosier, Air Chief Marshal Sir Frederick with Rosier, David, Be Bold (London: Grub Street, 2011).
  11. Samson, Charles, Fights and Flights: A Memoir of the Royal Naval Air Service in World War I (Nashville: The Battery Press, 1990).
  12. Spencer, Larry, Dark Horse: General Larry O. Spencer and His Journey from the Horseshoe to the Pentagon (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2021).


  1. Broad, Graham, One in A Thousand: The Life and Death of Captain Eddie McKay, Royal Flying Corps (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2017).
  2. Dye, Peter, “The Man Who Took the Rap”: Sir Robert Brooke-Popham and the Fall of Singapore (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2018).
  3. Fahrenwald, Ted, Bailout Over Normandy: A Flyboy’s Adventures with the French Resistance and Other Escapades in Occupied France (Philadelphia, PA: Casemate, 2012).
  4. Feast, Sean, A Thunder Bird in Bomber Command: The Wartime Letters and Story of Lionel Anderson, the Man who Inspired a Legend (London: Fighting High Publishing, 2015).
  5. Laslie, Brian D., Architect of Air Power: General Laurence S. Kuter and the Birth of the US Air Force (Lexington, KT: The University Press of Kentucky, 2017).
  6. Mackersey, Ian, Smithy: The Life of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith (London: Little Brown, 1998).
  7. Olsen, John Andreas, John Warden and the Renaissance of American Air Power (Dulles, VA: Potomac Books, 2007).
  8. Probert, Henry, Bomber Harris: His Life & Times (Aylesbury: Greenhill Books, 2001).
  9. Ramsey, Raquel, and Aurand, Tricia, Taking Flight: The Nadine Ramsey Story (Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2020).
  10. Richards, Denis, Portal of Hungerford (London: Heinemann, 1977).