Share This Article

A new book dealing with one aspect of America’s defense during the Cold War should be required reading for any number of people. Alwyn T. Lloyd’s A Cold War Legacy: A Tribute to Strategic Air Command–1946-1992 (Pictorial Histories Publishing Company, Missoula, Mont., 2000, $55) is for any Strategic Air Command (SAC) crew member who sprinted to his airplane, wondering if this alert was the real one–wondering whether his family would be alive if and when he got back. It is for the enlisted men who worked night and day at slave wages to keep aged birds running despite a lack of spare parts and continuous overwork. It is for their families, who learned how to do without the man of the house because he was working 80 hours a week every week, with no respite.

But this book is also for the American public, who could go to bed at night confident that the men, and later the women, of SAC were on duty. It is for the people of the former Soviet Union, whose leaders were wise enough to recognize that SAC could not be trifled with, that there was no combination of circumstances which would permit a first strike on the United States that would not be countered with a devastating riposte by SAC.

Lloyd’s works will be familiar to many of you, but he has outdone himself in this superb 760-page presentation on the history of SAC. Based on his usual far-reaching research, a vast network of collaborators and his own knowledge of the subject, Lloyd has created a book that tells the story of SAC in both broad and narrow terms. He defines the lofty goals of SAC, illustrates them with concrete examples of many operations and illuminates them with fascinating stories of the crews who worked so hard to defend our country.

Lloyd knows his subject, his people and his airplanes, and he backs up this knowledge with hundreds of magnificent, extremely pertinent photos, maps, graphs and tables. It’s all here–tail numbers, missions, unit histories, awards and decorations, record flights and goof-ups. Pictorial Histories Publishing Company deserves a great deal of credit for undertaking the risk of publishing a book of this size and lavishing such attention upon it in terms of the quality of its finish and photo reproduction.

A Cold War Legacy should be on the shelves of everyone who served in SAC, in every library and museum, and on the shelves of every patriot, for this is a story of which Americans can be proud, and for which the rest of the world should be grateful. Lloyd has an engineer’s eye for detail and for organization. There have been other books on SAC, but none of them rises to this level of accuracy, comprehensiveness and clarity. His book reads like an engaging chronology of some of the most dangerous years of our nation’s history.

By Walter J. Boyne