What We Are Reading Today: Race of Aces by John R. Bruning

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Updated 16 January 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Race of Aces by John R. Bruning

This is the astonishing untold story of the Second World War airmen who risked it all in the deadly race to become the greatest American fighter pilot, according to critics.

John R. Bruning’s story focuses on Richard Bong, Tommy McGuire, Neel Kearby, Charles MacDonald, and Gerald Johnson, who through training, became the deadliest aces during the Pacific War. 

Race of Aces “is an educational, powerful, and intense read, with a behind-the-scenes look at the Southwest Pacific Theater of Operations in the Second World War,” said a review in goodreads.com.

It added: “In the early years of the war, air forces from the US, Australia, and Japan engaged in an unrelenting struggle for superiority in the skies over New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. Allied forces were operating under primitive conditions in a largely unknown and noxious physical environment.”

Bruning “explores the technology and tactics, the multi-dimensional battlefield, and the leadership, living conditions, medical challenges, and morale of the combatants,” said the review.

What We Are Reading Today: Steadfast Democrats

Updated 27 February 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Steadfast Democrats

Authors: Ismail K. White and Chryl N. Laird 

Black Americans are by far the most unified racial group in American electoral politics, with 80 to 90 percent identifying as Democrats — a surprising figure given that nearly a third now also identify as ideologically conservative, up from less than 10 percent in the 1970s. Why has ideological change failed to push more black Americans into the Republican Party? Steadfast Democrats answers this question with a pathbreaking new theory that foregrounds the specificity of the black American experience and illuminates social pressure as the key element of black Americans’ unwavering support for the Democratic Party, says a review on the Princeton University Press website.

Ismail White and Chryl Laird argue that the roots of black political unity were established through the adversities of slavery and segregation, when black Americans forged uniquely strong social bonds for survival and resistance. 

White and Laird explain how these tight communities have continued to produce and enforce political norms—including Democratic Party identification in the post–Civil Rights era. The social experience of race for black Americans is thus fundamental to their political choices.