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An American Story

Timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the founding of the U.S. Navy Fighter Weapons School, aka “Topgun,” the founder of the program shares the untold story of how he and eight other young pilots revolutionized the art of aerial combat and created the center for excellence and incubator of leadership that thrives to this day.

When American fighter jets were being downed at a horrifying and unprecedented rate during the Vietnam War, the U.S. Navy turned to a young lieutenant commander, Dan Pedersen, to figure out a way to reverse their dark fortune. On a shoestring budget and with little support, Pedersen picked eight of the finest pilots to help train a new generation to bend jets like the F-4 Phantom to their will and learn how to dogfight all over again.

Now, the Fighter Weapons School’s founder, the man who was picked to lead it at the start, from Miramar to Area 51 to the war in Vietnam, tells the inside story. Pedersen established a legacy that was built by him and his “Original Eight” and carried on for six decades by some of America’s greatest leaders. The book is a heartfelt personal testimony to an elite community of innovators and disruptors who stand as an inspiration to all.
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Genre: Nonfiction / History / Military / United States

On Sale: March 5th 2019

Price: $35 / $45.5 (CAD)

ISBN-13: 9781549148743

What's Inside

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Reader Reviews


"If an institution is the lengthened shadow of a single man, then the history of modern naval aviation might well be described as the lengthened shadow of Dan Pedersen. Here, in direct, vivid, and unvarnished prose, is the high-flying, supersonic tale of the Topgun program and its extraordinary founder. Through it all, Pedersen's innovative spirit, as well as his essential modesty, shines through."—Hampton Sides, author Ghost Soldiers and On Desperate Ground
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"Goose and Maverick, move over -- this is the true heart of Topgun, told with energy, style, humor, and tactical brilliance...a masterpiece that captures the essence of naval aviation in all its complexity and beauty. Dan Pedersen takes us on a high-speed jet ride through the fast times of Topgun, the Navy, and the need to fight our enemies from a position of superiority."—Admiral James Stavridis, USN (Ret.), Supreme Allied Commander of NATO (2009-2013), chairman of the U.S. Naval Institute, and author of Sea Power: The History and Geopolitics of the World's Oceans
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"A superb read...Dan Pedersen's Topgun is a riveting, seat-of-the-pants flight into the lethal world of the fighter pilot told by the man who started it all!"
Dan Hampton, New York Times bestselling author of Viper Pilot and Lords of the Sky
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"For those who will never experience the thrilling privilege of soaring at Mach 2 in the back seat of a Navy F-4 Phantom fighter, Dan Pedersen's superb memoir is the next best thing....Many aviators-turned-authors lose readers in jargon and procedures, but Pedersen's full-hearted personal narrative engages them with maverick charm, showing how he and his innovative team reinvented the art of air-to-air combat in the jet age. Topgun: An American Story is as revelatory as a freshly declassified briefing, written with the flair and insight of Tom Clancy."—Michael Fabey, author of Crashback: The Power Clash Between the U.S. and China in the Pacific
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