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Topgun

An American Story
Narrated by: Jim Meskimen
Length: 9 hrs and 48 mins
Categories: History, Americas
5 out of 5 stars (9 ratings)

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Summary

On the 50th anniversary of the creation of the "Topgun" Navy Fighter School, its founder shares the remarkable inside story of how he and eight other risk-takers revolutionized the art of aerial combat.

When American fighter jets were being downed at an unprecedented rate during the Vietnam War, the US 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. 

What resulted was nothing short of a revolution - one that took young American pilots from the crucible of combat training in the California desert to the blistering skies of Vietnam, in the process raising America's Navy combat kill ratio from two enemy planes downed for every American plane lost to more than 22 to 1. Topgun emerged not only as an icon of America's military dominance immortalized by Hollywood but as a vital institution that would shape the nation's military strategy for generations to come.

Pedersen takes listeners on a colorful and thrilling ride - from Miramar to Area 51 to the decks of aircraft carriers in war and peace - through a historic moment in air warfare. He helped establish a legacy that was built by him and his "Original Eight" - the best of the best - and carried on for six decades by some of America's greatest leaders. Topgun is a heartfelt and personal testimonial to patriotism, sacrifice, and American innovation and daring.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio. 

©2019 Dan Pedersen (P)2019 Hachette Audio

Critic 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, New York Times best-selling author Ghost Soldiers and On Desperate Ground)

"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 best-selling author of Viper Pilot and Lords of the Sky)

"With the hot-seat velocity and cockpit realism of a military combat thriller, the author delivers exacting details and emotional acuity....A noble, thrillingly realized combat aviation memoir from one of America's finest." (Kirkus Reviews)

What listeners say about Topgun

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Bravo Zulu!

Has all the elements of a great story and is read with care and attention - well done narrator! Nice to get the pdf of the photos too. Will be buying this in print when the hardback goes on sale next month.

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Wild Aerial Ride!

Dan Pedersen takes the reader up in his backseat for a wild aerial ride throughout his entire Navy career. Vietnam, Top Gun, Supercarrier command, and a thorough education in ACM. Well written, superbly narrated, recommend highly!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 28-03-19

Great Insight into a Unique Organization

Great insight in the events leading up to the founding and success of Top Gun. A lot more than what you saw in the movie.

The writer takes you from the Korean War through Vietnam and other events that involved aerial combat. He also dives into the politics behind the new F35 and offers his personal opinion on the future of Naval Aviation with regards to fighters.

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  • B-House
  • 26-12-19

History of Top Gun

This book tells the story of the founding of the fight pilot school called Top Gun and it’s evolution over time. I thought it was really interesting and written by a military aviation veteran and expert. Good listen.

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  • "airplane_cfii"
  • 09-10-19

I loved it!

Do yourself a favor, read or listen to this book. I’m actually sad that it’s over I will have to read it again. Thank you Dan for what you’ve done for this country.

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  • ken
  • 01-04-19

great listen, you feel like your in the cockpit

a well put together summary of a team's determination and will power to do it right.

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  • Kevin Macke
  • 22-07-20

A must read for any fighter jet fan

I first heard of this book on Jocko podcast when the author was a guest. If you are a fan of fighter jets or you want to hear what top gun is really like, this is the book for you. The author does a great job of explaining what it’s like to be a pilot, what’s important, and why a well trained human will always be better than someone relying on a machine to do the work. You learn about the phantom, tomcat, f5, all the way to the penguin debacle. Great book!!

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  • Rachel
  • 18-07-20

Best audio book I’ve listened to yet!

Dan Pedersen lived an amazing life and enjoyed a fantastic career! Very enjoyable. Thank you!

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  • BigFish
  • 17-07-20

Need For Speed

I saw Captain Pederson on the Jocko Podcast and I'm also a big fan of TopGun the movie. The book was interesting especially the part about Vietnam. I never knew there was an actual air war going on there. Captain Pederson, thanks for your service Shipmate. Go Navy!

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  • Erin
  • 17-07-20

I feel the need...the need for speed!

What a fantastic book about the TopGun program, made known by the movie of the same name. I learned so much, not just about naval aviation but also about the Vietnam War that I was unaware of. Dan delivers the history with clarity, flair, and true love of his career.
I highly recommend this audio book. The reader has a great voice, easy to listen to. I was thoroughly sad for it to be over!

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  • Nathaniel Bunker
  • 08-07-20

Great book.

This books go’s into good detail about dogfighting over Vietnam. Anyone interested is air combat will enjoy this book.

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  • ErinT
  • 02-07-20

What a story, better than the movie!

Dan tells a touching story about flying, love, lost love, flying, losing friends in a poorly run war, and losing a career to a stupid politician. There is a lot of really interesting details and then this man went on the best Podcast on the internet, the Jocko Podcast.

If you want to know how and why the Navy solved its problems getting shot down too much over Vietnam, this book is one of the ones to read.