This Week's Book Review - America’s Few

America's Few
Looking for a good read? Here is a recommendation. I have an unusual approach to reviewing books. I review books I feel merit a review. Each review is an opportunity to recommend a book. If I do not think a book is worth reading, I find another book to review. You do not have to agree with everything every author has written (I do not), but the fiction I review is entertaining (and often thought-provoking) and the non-fiction contain ideas worth reading.

Book Review

Air Combat Over the Solomons

Reviewed by Mark Lardas
January 31, 2022

“America’s Few: Marine Aces of the South Pacific,” by Bill Yenne, Osprey Publishing, 2022, 352 pages. $35.00 (Hardcover), $24.50 (Ebook)

Bill Yenne has been writing aviation history for half a century. Sometimes groundbreaking, his books is always informative and entertaining

“America’s Few: Marine Aces of the South Pacific,” by Bill Yenne is his latest. It tells the story of the two dozen US Marine Corps aviators who achieved double digit ace status: ten or more kills.

All spent time in the South Pacific Theater in World War II, fighting in or from the Solomon Islands between October 1942 and May 1944. A few scored kills outside that period (including one who shot down two aircraft during the Korean War). All achieved double-ace status as a result of their exploits in the Solomons or over Rabaul.

The men who fought these battles became national heroes. Greg “Pappy” Boyington, Joe Foss, Marion Carl and the other aces Yenne discusses became household names during World War II. Their battles were deadly serious, critical fights in a deadly struggle for national survival. Yenne frames its importance perfectly.

The book’s weakness is Yenne’s overreliance on US sources, wartime after-action reports and published memoirs by the aces. He accepts these uncritically. This led to errors, particularly in chapters in the fighting over Rabaul. Its air defense during the period of the great Ace Race was purely the responsibility of the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Force. Japanese Army aircraft were absent. Yet wartime reports frequently misidentified aircraft attacked as Army aircraft. Yenne repeats these claims blindly. He ignores controversy over exaggerated kills during this period, honest mistakes and glory-seeking alike.

The book is redeemed by his accounts of the aces’ lives before and after World War II. He creates a vivid image of what it took to become a leading fighter ace. Most were college educated; they hunted during childhood and teen years, and were competent outdoorsmen. They came predominantly from Western states. They were mostly reservists, and all joined the Marines prior to World War II.

Yenne also writes sensitively of how they lived after World War II. Some coped well with fame; others struggled. Only a few remained in the service after World War II. Some had highly-successful post-war careers. Others fought depression and alcohol. Yenne captures all of it.

“America’s Few” is worth a read. As with all Yenne books it tells an exciting tale. He captures an era when the United States created heroes who fought against difficult odds, and ultimately triumphed.

Mark Lardas, an engineer, freelance writer, historian, and model-maker, lives in League City. His website is .


Just finished Magda Alexanders second book, Murder At Westminster, after her debut in Murder on thee Golden. Arrow. It was as entertaining.

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