The Flying Tigers

By Sam Kleiner

About the Book

The Flying Tigers

Author Sam Kleiner's meticulous research draws upon unpublished wartime documents to tell the thrilling story of the American pilots who were secretly recruited to defend our nation's desperate Chinese allies and ended up on the front lines of the war against Japan in the dark days after Pearl Harbor.

Kleiner takes readers into the cockpits of their iconic shark-nosed P-40 planes—one of the most familiar images of the war—as the Tigers perform nail-biting missions against the Japanese. He profiles the outsize personalities involved in the operation, including the Tiger's legendary leader army pilot Claire Chennault, whose aggressive tactics went against the prevailing wisdom of military strategy; Greg "Pappy" Boyington, the man who would become the nation's most beloved pilot until he was shot down and became a POW; Emma Foster, one of the nurses in the unit who had a passionate romance with a pilot named John Petach; and Madame Chiang Kai-shek herself, who first brought Chennault to China and who would come to visit these young Americans.

A dramatic story of a covert operation whose very existence would have scandalized an isolationist United States, The Flying Tigers is an unforgettable account of a group of American men and women whose heroism challenged the world, and who cemented an alliance between the United States and China as both nations fought against seemingly insurmountable odds.

About the Author

Sam Kleiner

Sam Kleiner is a historian and lawyer based in New York City. Kleiner holds a doctorate in international relations from the University of Oxford, England, where he was a Marshall Scholar, and a JD from Yale Law School. His writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Foreign Policy, and The Atlantic. He was raised in Tucson, Arizona.

Sam’s interest in history took root in his early childhood. Growing up in Tucson, his curiosity about World War II was fueled by stories from his grandfather, who was a navigator on a B-25 in the Pacific. After majoring in American history at Northwestern University, Sam was awarded a Marshall Scholarship and earned a doctorate in International Relations at the University of Oxford. His thesis examined Presidential war powers and the manner in which presidents from Roosevelt to Obama made their decisions to go to war.

While attending law school at Yale in 2015, Kleiner stumbled across an endearing set of love letters written between a Flying Tigers pilot and a nurse that were stored away in a University archive. Sam recognized this story’s compelling human drama which unfolded amidst an extraordinary historical narrative on the eve of WW II. His three years of research culminate in the writing of The Flying Tigers, The Untold Story.

It has been the honor of Sam’s lifetime to tell this story. Sam is grateful for the hospitality and support of many individuals that he met through the Flying Tigers Association, who helped him find original Tiger diaries and letters that had never before been examined by a historian. Kleiner worked with the Chennault family, including Anna Chennault, who gave him access to hundreds of original combat reports previously stored away from historical review until now. These firsthand accounts of the Tigers' battles offer an unprecedented and intimate view of the Flying Tigers.

Contact Sam Kleiner

For information about publicity, media,
and bookstore author talks, contact:
  • Shannon Twomey
  • Associate Director, Penguin Random House
  • 375 Hudson Street, 4th Floor
  • New York, NY 10014
  • (212) 366-2000 Telephone

Events & Updates


Washington, DC
May 20, 2018 1:00pm - 3:00pm
Smithsonian Air and Space Museum
600 Independence Ave SW
(Book Signing, Open to the Public)

Washington, DC
May 22, 2018, 6:30pm - 8:00pm
Kramer Books & Afterwards
1517 Connecticut Ave NW
(Open to the Public)

East Hampton, NY
June 2, 2018, 5:00pm
41 Main Street
(Details & Register Here)

New York, NY
June 6, 2018, 6:00pm - 8:00pm
The Columbia Club
30 West 44th Street
(Ticketed event)

Austin, TX
November 5, 2018, 12:15pm - 1:30pm
Clements Center for National Security
University of Texas


Publishers Weekly writes The Flying Tigers is "informative action-packed and easy to read."

Library Journal writes "Kleiner unlocks the secrets of the First American Volunteer Group (AVG) ...and illuminates the battles, personalities, and personal lives of the Flying Tigers"

Military Review writes "This is an excellent book for those interested in reading about this extraordinary episode in World War II."

More Praise

"This is a movie waiting to be made—a great adventure story that is all the more gripping because it really happened. These pilots remind us of why we're proud to be American, ordinary young men who became heroes at a time when American victories were scarce."
Michael Punke author of The Revenant
"The Flying Tigers has it all: aerial guerilla warfare, foreign intrigue, inspiring heroism, and a Hollywood-worthy cast of colorful misfits, rebels, and patriotic adventurers, all woven into an electrifying narrative."
Thurston Clarke author of Pearl Harbor Ghosts and The Last Campaign
"The Flying Tigers is a meticulously researched work of history that reads like a thriller. Packed with characters that come off the pages, it draws the reader into a world of dare-devil flying and covert operations in China in the opening days of World War II."
Amy Chua author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and Political Tribes