Alexander P. de Seversky and the Quest for Air Power


Alexander P. de Seversky and the Quest for Air Power

James K. Libbey

368 pages


August 2013


$39.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

August 2013


$39.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Today, air power is a vital component of the U.S. armed forces. James Libbey, in Alexander P. de Seversky and the Quest for Air Power, highlights the contributions of an aviation pioneer who made much of it possible. Graduating from the Imperial Russian Naval Academy at the start of World War I, de Seversky lost a leg in his first combat mission. He still shot down thirteen German planes and became the empire’s most decorated combat naval pilot. De Seversky elected to escape Soviet Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution. He served as a naval attaché in the United States in 1918 and offered his services as a pilot and consulting engineer to the U.S. War Department. He proved inventive both in the technology of advanced military aircraft and in the strategy of exercising air power. He worked for famed aviation advocate Gen. William “Billy” Mitchell, who encouraged the naturalized citizen to patent his inventions, such as an in-flight refueling system and a gyroscopically synchronized bombsight. His creative spirit then spurred him to design and manufacture advanced military aircraft. When World War II broke out in Europe, de Seversky became America’s best-known philosopher, prophet, and advocate for air power, even serving as an adviser to the chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force. The highlight of his life occurred in 1970 when the Aviation Hall of Fame enshrined de Seversky for “his achievements as a pilot, aeronautical engineer, inventor, industrialist, author, strategist, consultant, and scientific advances in aircraft design and aerospace technology.” This book will appeal to readers with a special interest in military history and to anyone who wants to learn more about one of the most important figures to promote American air power.

Author Bio

JAMES K. LIBBEY is professor emeritus at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and the author of Alexander Gumberg and Soviet-American Relations, 1917–1933 (University Press of Kentucky, 1977); Dear Alben: Mr. Barkley of Kentucky (University Press of Kentucky, 2009); American-Russian Economic Relations, 1770s–1990s (Regina, 1989); and Soviet-American Documents, Vol. 5, The Cold War Begins, 1946–1949 (Academic International Press, 2006). He lives in St. Augustine, Florida.


"[A] fascinating account of an important figure in aviation."—A. M. Strauss, CHOICE

"This book is highly recommended for all readers, and every library should include it on their shelves. It is wonderfully refreshing to read about how the patriotic Russian Alexander P. de Seversky became a true American hero."—Walter J. Boyne, Aviation History

"This book adds a welcome dimension to the tapestry on interwar thinking, aircraft design and the realities of industrial scale production."—Peter Gray, Aerospace

Alexander P. de Seversky is exactly the right combination of scholarly approach, buff detail, and good writing.”—Col. Walter J. Boyne, USAF (Ret.), the dean of aviation historians and former director of the National Air and Space Museum

“Seversky was obviously a competent and astute observer of the technical, operational, and tactical and strategic aspects of air power. All this marks him as an individual who goes well beyond being merely a thoughtful aviator, a reflective industrialist, or ‘just’ an air-minded air power advocate.”—Dr. Richard P. Hallion, aviation historian and recently retired as Senior Adviser for Air and Space Issues, U.S. Pentagon

“Libbey presents an excellent, up-to-date synthesis of U.S. policies of this period. He analyzes quite perceptively the ways in which air power began to reshape American thinking—and FDR’s in particular—about the foundations of national security.” —Dr. George C. Herring, foreign relations specialist and author of From Colony to Superpower