Book Review 8: Al Lloyd on the Strategic Air Command



Alwyn T. Lloyd

Pictorial Histories Publishing Company, Missoula, MT , 2000, $55.00
This book is required reading for any number of people, and its worth-while taking a look at who they might be. Certainly its for any Strategic Air Command crew member who sprinted to his airplane, wondering if this alert was the real one—and wondering not if he would get back but if his family would be alive when he did. It is for the silent, wonderful enlisted men, who worked night and day at slave wages to keep aged birds running despite a lack of spare parts and continuous overwork. It is for their families, who learned how to do without the man of the house because he was working 80 hours a week, every week, with no respite.
It is also for the American public, who could go to bed at night, confident that the men, and later the women, of the Strategic Air Command were on duty. It is for the people of the former Soviet Union, whose leaders were wise enough to recognize that SAC could not be trifled with, that there were no combination of circumstances which would permit a first strike on the United States that would not be countered with a devastating riposte by the Strategic Air Command.
But more than anything, it is for the slick haired, always smiling news-readers, the Rathers, the Jennings, the Brokaws and their ilk, men who had no idea of military service and only contempt for those who were defending them. These news-readers always maligned the Strategic Air Command, its people and its leaders, confident that their lip-synching news that was fed to them was the truth, and unaware that in the Soviet Union they would have been the first to go.
Having delivered myself of this troglodyte diatribe, let me now turn to a superb book. Al Lloyd, whose works will be familiar to many of you, has outdone himself in this superb 760 page presentation on the history of the Strategic Air Command. Using his usual endless research, vast network of collaborators and his own knowledge of the subject, Lloyd has created a book that tells the story of SAC in both broad and narrow terms. He defines the lofty goals of SAC, illustrates them with concrete examples of the many operations, and illuminates them with the stories of the crews who worked so hard to defend out country.
Lloyd knows the subject, his people, and his airplanes and he back up his knowledge with hundreds of magnificent, extremely pertinent, photos, maps, graphs, and tables. Its all here—tail numbers, missions, unit histories, awards and decorations, record flights and goof-ups.
The publisher, Pictorial Histories Publishing Company of Missoula, Montana, deserves a great deal of credit for undertaking the risk of publishing a book of this size, and lavishing such quality upon it in terms of its finish and photo reproduction.
This book should be on the shelves of everyone who served in SAC; on the shelves of every library and museum, and on the shelves of every patriot, for this is a story of which Americans can be proud, and of which the rest of the world should be grateful. Al Lloyd has the engineers eye for detail and for organization. His book reads like an engaging chronology of the most dangerous and perhaps the most important 46 years of our nation. There have been other books on the Strategic Air Command. None rises to this level of accuracy, comprehensiveness and clarity.

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