If you're looking for a very short and superficial overview of The Flying tigers. this is the book for you; it has 168 pages of text, plus a very brief bibliography and index. That text includes numerous photographs, and each chapter is headed by a page which contains nothing but the title and a photo.
John Toland is a well-respected Pulitzer Prize winning popular historian. His biography of Hitler was ground breaking, and his "The Rising Sun", an extensive overview of Japan from 1936 to 1945 is outstanding. I have two of his books about Pearl Harbor which I haven't read yet, but am looking forward to. Toland has a Japanese wife, which I'm sure contributes to his insights about Japan.
Given all that, this book was a real disappointment; it looks like he slapped it together in a few weeks to satisfy some contractural obligation - it is also not very well researched or proof read. Page 145 talks about Robert Scott "tangling with four twin-engine planes, Messerschmitt 109's". The ME109 was a German fighter plane with one engine. The excellent "The Flying Tiger", an world-class biography of Claire Chennault by Jack Samson, who served with him, has no mention of the ME109 at all. If you're really interested in the Flying Tigers, that's the book you need to read.
John Toland's book celebrates the legacy of the American Volunteer Group in China, but it also paints a heroic picture of the group's leader, Claire Lee Chennault.
Although written for young adults, it does not water down its subject matter. Toland discusses the political situation wherein young Americans went to China to volunteer and/or be hired long and fight the Japanese long before Pearl Harbor. Perhaps more surprisingly, Toland gets into the strategic and tactical importance of what Chennault and his fliers were doing.
Second, it captures a time very much different from today, when American military intervention and public acceptance are invariably tied to whether or not the lives of the public at home are being affected. The idea of young American men wanting to travel halfway around the world to fight in war just because the other side represented tyranny is totally foreign to us today. Perhaps one of the legacies of the generation that fought World War II is that their efforts will never be duplicated because not only their situation was so different than where the world finds itself today, but that their passion and commitment to such abstract ideals as life and liberty has all but perished.
Who else, besides family and friends, would we be willing to lay down our lives for?
This book serves as a tribute to those who answered differently at a time when the world most needed them.