The Maverick War: Chennault and the Flying Tigers

St. Martin’s Press, 1987

On July 23, 1941, some five months before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt signed a secret Executive Order authorizing the bombing of Tokyo and other Japanese cities. This astounding mission never took place, but what resulted was America’s first venture in to the shadowy area of covert operations against a foreign power.

The author of this extraordinary plan was the cantankerous, opinionated, and controversial ex-Army captain, Claire Lee Chennault. Though Roosevelt was persuaded to postpone this plan, he did give Chennault a consolation prize—an air force of 100 fighter planes and the pilots to fly them. Thus, the Flying Tigers outfit was born.

Chennault pulled together an unlikely group of undisciplined, hard-drinking men and built the most successful and unorthodox outfit of World War II.

Drawing on unpublished diaries of the men of Chennault’s American Volunteer Group (AVG), interviews, Chennault’s personal papers, and material from military archives, Schultz has written a fascinating and definitive account of Chennault and his now-legendary pilots.


This account by Schultz sets the record straight. I was fascinated with the description of Chennault’s life before he commanded the AVG. It revealed to me why this stubborn and inspired man rose from a humble beginning to world prominence as a wartime military leader

James H. Howard, Brigadier General, USAF, Ret., AVG squadron leader

I would have flown into hell for General Chennault who designed aerial tactics and placed them into execution with great success. This is a fine book. Every American should read it

Robert L. Scott, Brigadier General, USAF, Ret., fighter commander and author of God Is My Co-Pilot

Good reading with valuable insights. Schultz’s treatment is engaging. Vivid detail with often harrowing descriptions

Library Journal

A rousing account, clearing the air of myth-makers’ hyperbole without tarnishing the glory earned by these renegade warriors


The Flying Tigers was a sort of airborne flying foreign legion, credited with saving China from Japanese conquest early in World War II. This highly readable book traces its creation and awesome accomplishments. The air battles are memorably described, but the surprise is Schultz’s revelation of Chennault’s battles with superiors and his often tenuous authority over his pilots

Publishers Weekly

Excellent . . . Schultz’s accounts of the Flying Tigers’ feats are superb and his interpretations of their military significance are succinct and satisfying

Washington Post

More WWII War Books by Duane Schultz