China’s Wings: War, Intrigue, Romance, and Adventure in the Middle Kingdom During the Golden Age of Flight
“exciting”; “inhabited by a host of interesting characters”; “displaying Mr. Crouch’s talents as a researcher, portraitist and chronicler” – China’s Wings reviewed in The Wall Street Journal by the late Michael Ybarra.
“In China’s Wings, Gregory Crouch recalls the remarkable encounter between an ancient civilization and the most modern technology in the world, as intrepid Americans and their Chinese partners struggled to establish a sophisticated air network over a vast land that barely knew electricity. This gripping book will transport you to a fascinating lost time.” – #1 New York Times Bestselling author James Bradley, author of Flags of Our Fathers, Flyboys, and Imperial Cruise
In World War II magazine, historian Richard R. Muller reviews China’s Wings as “a first-rate saga of aviation, wartime politics, and business that manages to be gripping without sacrificing scholarly rigor,” a “compelling narrative,” and “an exceedingly appealing combination of adventure story, aviation and military history, and earthy travelogue.”
“diligently researched, superbly told”; “a first-rate work of history”; “especially relevant”; “should do a lot to transport the appreciation of aviation’s impact on modern history out onto center stage” – The Pan Am Historical Foundation
“an engaging tale”; “belongs on the same shelf as [Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken] and [Erik Larson's In The Garden of Beasts]” – The New Jersey Star-Ledger
“dramatically rendered and obsessively researched” – Kirkus Reviews
“vividly written”; “rousing story” – James D. Hornfischer, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors and Neptune’s Inferno. (Both of which are excellent books.)
“a riveting book” – Rudy Maxa, “The Savvy Traveler”
A 30-page China’s Wings excerpt posted by Bantam
The China’s Wings related blog posts I’ve been making for more than a year. (I suggest working your way forward from the oldest post.)
What follows is the flap copy from China’s Wings book jacket:
“From the acclaimed author of Enduring Patagonia comes a dazzling tale of aerial adventure set against the roiling backdrop of war in Asia. The incredible real-life saga of the flying band of brothers who opened the skies over China in the years leading up to World War II—and boldly safeguarded them during that conflict—China’s Wings is one of the most exhilarating untold chapters in the annals of flight.
At the center of the maelstrom is the book’s courtly, laconic protagonist, American aviation executive William Langhorne Bond. In search of adventure, he arrives in Nationalist China in 1931, charged with turning around the turbulent nation’s flagging airline business, the China National Aviation Corporation (CNAC). The mission will take him to the wild and lawless frontiers of commercial aviation: into cockpits with daredevil pilots flying—sometimes literally—on a wing and a prayer; into the dangerous maze of Chinese politics, where scheming warlords and volatile military officers jockey for advantage; and into the boardrooms, backrooms, and corridors of power inhabited by such outsized figures as Generalissimo and Madame Chiang Kai-shek; President Franklin Delano Roosevelt; foreign minister T. V. Soong; Generals Arnold, Stilwell, and Marshall; and legendary Pan American Airways founder Juan Trippe.
With the outbreak of full-scale war in 1941, Bond and CNAC are transformed from uneasy spectators to active participants in the struggle against Axis imperialism. Drawing on meticulous research, primary sources, and extensive personal interviews with participants, Gregory Crouch offers harrowing accounts of brutal bombing runs and heroic evacuations, as the fight to keep one airline flying becomes part of the larger struggle for China’s survival. He plunges us into a world of perilous night flights, emergency water landings, and the constant threat of predatory Japanese warplanes. When Japanese forces capture Burma and blockade China’s only overland supply route, Bond and his pilots must battle shortages of airplanes, personnel, and spare parts to airlift supplies over an untried five-hundred-mile-long aerial gauntlet high above the Himalayas—the infamous “Hump”—pioneering one of the most celebrated endeavors in aviation history.
A hero’s-eye view of history in the grand tradition of Lynne Olson’s Citizens of London, China’s Wings takes readers on a mesmerizing journey to a time and place that reshaped the modern world.