• Topgun

  • An American Story
  • By: Dan Pedersen
  • Narrated by: Jim Meskimen
  • Length: 9 hrs and 48 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (732 ratings)

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Publisher's 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
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

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)

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What listeners say about Topgun

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The true story is way better than the movie.

The true story like everything Hollywood does is way better than the movie. These guys were of good and moral character not losers like in the movie. This book will teach you a lot about how to do anything right. As a jet pilot myself my training was reinforced by this book. A good pilot is always learning.

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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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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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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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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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Important Historical Story

Awesome historical story of the lessons we learned in Vietnam, recreated during the Gulf War, then forget again and need go relearn.

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Elite Leadership Memoir

You couldn't ask for a better real-life story if you paid for this gentleman's drinks all night!

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Wonderfully Written

I thoroughly enjoyed this from beginning to end. I was worried that it might not live up to the hype of the previous rave reviews, but it certainly did.

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Absolutley FANTASTIC!!

This has become one of my favorite books and I will listen to this for years to come!

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Lots of self-congratulation

A fun listen, good history of Topgun’s start and development. Also interesting to hear his take on Vietnam and naval aviation as he experienced it all from so many seats; a combat carrier pilot, Topgun founder, and commander of a supercarrier!
The weakness of the book is poor editing. It’s too long, filled with self-congratulation and ending with a long diatribe of how the current airplanes, govt. and military just don’t measure up to his wisdom to fix it all.

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  • D. Williams
  • 04-07-19

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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  • Mst007
  • 03-23-19

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!