What historians are saying about A Few Planes for China

“…One of Ms. Buchan’s great contributions to the history of the Flying Tigers is to debunk the self-promoting story that Chennault peddled in his postwar memoir, “Way of a Fighter” (1949), which saw him arriving in Washington from China at the end of 1940 and, as if by magic, single-handedly creating the AVG over the course of the next few months. Historians and writers, including this reviewer, have largely cleaved to that story ever since. Ms. Buchan presents a corrective account that is more complicated, provocative and interesting—and probably more accurate.”–Greg Crouch, ‘The Flying Tigers’ and ‘A Few Planes for China Review: Tigers over a Rising Sun, book review in the Wall Street Journal, July 19 2018

“A Few Planes for China, the subtitle “The Birth of the Flying Tigers” notwithstanding, contains no instances of aviation derring-do; actual combat appears only in the last paragraph of the last chapter. But no matter. Eugenie Buchan has produced a well-researched and readable account of what—in retrospect at least—seems of of one of the more curious corners of American involvement in World War II and one which bears some uncanny resemblances to the apparent conduct of conflicts of the present day.” — Peter Gordon book review for The Asian Review of Books, October 23 2017

“This is a multilayered story but Ms Buchan has an easy narrative style and command of the facts she has uncovered. It is part familiy memoir, part detective yarn and an exercise in meticulous archival research. In the end, it is this latter that makes the book required reading for Asia and war history fans. Much of the tale unearthed has been available but ignored by several generations of older authorities.” James Srodes, book review in The Washington Times, September 6 2017

“Among the many legends of World War II, Claire Chennault’s formation of the ‘Flying Tigers’ to fight the Japanese in China has survived so far uncontested until now. Eugenie Buchan’s careful and convincing reconstruction of the history shows the Chennault version to be more myth than legend.  Her debunking is neither strident nor triumphalist, but a scrupulously informed and elegantly crafted deconstruction of the standard accounts. Above all, she restores to wartime China a proper historical place in a narrative that has for too long been dominated by Western versions of events. Historians of the war will be in her debt for finally putting the record straight after more than 75 years.” — Richard Overy

“This is a splendid piece of  myth-busting history.  The story of how American assistance built up China’s air force has been surrounded by many myths from both sides, and Eugenie Buchan shows in rigorous detail how commercial motivations and political manoeuvring in the wartime era affected the growth of Chiang Kai-shek’s air force.  This is a forceful and deeply-researched account of an important episode in wartime history.” — Rana Mitter

“Eugenie Buchan has done admirable research in the British archives. Her conclusions are certain to spark a lively debate, and her book will be a great help to future historians of the American Volunteer Group.” — Daniel Ford



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