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Architect of Air Power: General Laurence S. Kuter and the Birth of the US Air Force

by Brian D. Laslie

Availablecloth$39.95s 978-0-8131-6998-9
Availableepub$39.95s 978-0-8131-7405-1
Availableweb pdf$39.95s 978-0-8131-7404-4
American Warriors Series
254 pages  Pubdate:   6 x 9  21 b&w photos

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At age 36, Laurence S. Kuter (1905–1979) became the youngest general officer since William T. Sherman. He served as deputy commander of allied tactical air forces in North Africa during World War II and helped devise the American bombing strategy in Europe. Although his combat contributions were less notable than other commanders in the Eighth Air Force, few officers saw as many theaters of operation as he did or were as highly sought-after. After World War II, he led the Military Air Transport Service, Air University, Far East Air Forces, and served as commander-in-chief of the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD). Despite these accomplishments and others, however, Kuter remains widely underappreciated.

In Architect of Air Power, Brian D. Laslie offers the first biography of this important but unsung pioneer whose influence can be found in every stage of the development of an independent US Air Force. From his early years at West Point to his days at the Air Corps Tactical School to his leadership role at NORAD, Kuter made his mark with quiet efficiency. He was an early advocate of strategic bombardment rather than pursuit or fighter aviation—fundamentally changing the way air power was used—and later helped implement the Berlin airlift in 1948. In what would become a significant moment in military history, he wrote Field Manual 100-20, which is considered the Air Force’s “declaration of independence” from the Army.

Drawing on diaries, letters, and scrapbooks, Laslie offers a complete portrait of this influential soldier. Architect of Air Power illuminates Kuter’s pivotal contributions and offers new insights into critical military policy and decision-making during the Second World War and the Cold War.

Brian D. Laslie is Deputy Command Historian at NORAD and U.S. Northern Command as well as adjunct professor at the U.S. Air Force Academy. He is the author of The Air Force Way of War: U.S. Tactics and Training after Vietnam.

Laslie’s outstanding work on Laurence Kuter is the first full and highly effective look at this exceptionally important airman. It gives the reader ample evidence of Kuter’s central role in making America the quintessential airpower nation during the course of the twentieth century. This will be the book on Kuter for many years to come. -- Robert S. Ehlers, Jr., author of The Mediterranean Air War: Airpower and Allied Victory in World War II

In Architect of Air Power, Brian Laslie expertly brings into focus perhaps the least known of the major Air Force personalities of World War II and the early Cold War. Kuter was the indispensable ‘behind-the-scenes’ man in those years, and this book fills a similarly indispensable gap in our understanding of the people and ideas that propelled the nation’s air arm to independence and prominence. -- Thomas Alexander Hughes, author of Over Lord: General Pete Quesada and the Triumph of Tactical Air Power in World War II

Brian Laslie has produced a comprehensive biography of one of the true 'Engineers of Victory' in the Second World War. Kuter’s service as a planner, organizer and staff officer, though often behind the scenes, supplied critical leadership for the development, deployment, and sustainment of American airpower, cementing his role as one of the 'founding fathers' of the US Air Force. Laslie’s work does full justice to these efforts, helping us understand how this American airman made vital contributions to the Allied victory in World War II and to the further development of the aerial weapon. -- Christopher M. Rein, author of The North African Air Campaign: U.S. Army Forces from El Alamein to Salerno