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What to Read if You Loved Masters of the Air

It is difficult for me to express just how much I love Masters of the Air––but that won’t stop me from trying! For some curious reason, I love an airplane. I enjoy flying. I like it when the Blue Angels make my ears ring and my bones shake. If a film, show, or book has an airplane, sign me up! I also love history and historical fiction, so really, if I think about it, my love of Masters of the Air is very easily expressed. (Tragically, I’m not as complicated as I wish I were).

But it’s not the logic of my love that I’m trying to explain, but it’s deepness. While the show was airing earlier this year, my whole week revolved around the night I got to watch the latest episode, lights out, with lots of popcorn. I lived for the moments when the boys of the ‘Bloody 100th’ were soaring through the air. And don’t even get my started on that theme song! *chef’s kiss/sobbing*

I could truly go on forever about my love for this show, but instead, I’m going to share what I’ve been reading now that there’s an airplane-shaped hole in my heart. While these books aren’t all about aviation, they cover some of my favorite themes from this masterpiece of a TV show: history, friendship, adventure, and, of course, airplanes!


by Elizabeth Wein

If Masters of the Air was your ideal TV show, then Elizabeth Wein is your ideal author! Not only do many of her stories center early aviation, but she herself flies small planes! Stateless is an exhilarating historical novel about an air race, filled with all that good stuff like romance and betrayal.

When Stella North is chosen to represent Britain in Europe’s first air race for young people, she knows all too well how high the stakes are. As the only participating female pilot, it’ll be a constant challenge to prove she’s a worthy competitor. But promoting peace in Europe, the goal of the race, feels empty to Stella when civil war is raging in Spain and the Nazis are gaining power—and when, right from the start, someone resorts to cutthroat sabotage to get ahead of the competition.
The world is looking for inspiration in what’s meant to be a friendly sporting event. But each of the racers is hiding a turbulent and violent past, and any one of them might be capable of murder—including Stella herself.

Agatha Christie meets Karen McManus in this thrilling mystery, packed with adventure, intrigue, love, and betrayal, from bestselling and award-winning author Elizabeth Wein.

The Brightwood Code

by Monica Hesse

Monica Hesse’s latest novel sheds light on a little-known part of WWI history. Specifically, the role women played in the war. If you nerd out on the historical aspects of Masters of the Air, you’ll love the details that Monica presents in this thrilling historical novel.

Seven months ago, Edda was on the World War I front lines as one of two hundred “Hello Girls,” female switchboard operators employed by the US Army. She spent her nights memorizing secret connection codes to stay ahead of spying enemies, and her days connecting vital calls between platoons and bases and generals, all trying to survive—and win—a brutal war. Their lives were in Edda’s hands, and one day, in fateful seconds, everything went wrong.

Now, Edda is back in Washington, DC, working as an American Bell Telephone operator, the picture of respectability. But when her shift ends, Edda is barely hanging on, desperate to forget the circumstances that cut her time overseas short. When Edda receives a panicked phone call from someone who utters the fateful code word “Brightwood,” she has no choice but to confront her past. With precious few clues and help only from Theo, a young man bearing his own WWI scars, Edda races to uncover what secrets may have followed her across the ocean.

Timely and unforgettable, The Brightwood Code sheds light on hidden history and the brutality of being a woman in a war built by men.

Wolf by Wolf

by Ryan Graudin

This book is based on a what-if. What if the Allied forces lost? What if Hitler and the Nazis won? (What if the Bloody 100th didn’t succeed?). This book is also about a race. A motorcycle race. With the help of some fantastical abilities, Yael is on a mission to kill Hitler.

Her story begins on a train.

The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule. To commemorate their Great Victory, they host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The prize? An audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor’s ball in Tokyo.

Yael, a former death camp prisoner, has witnessed too much suffering, and the five wolves tattooed on her arm are a constant reminder of the loved ones she lost. The resistance has given Yael one goal: Win the race and kill Hitler. A survivor of painful human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift and must complete her mission by impersonating last year’s only female racer, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele’s twin brother, and Luka, her former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael’s every move.

But as Yael grows closer to the other competitors, can she be as ruthless as she needs to be to avoid discovery and stay true to her mission?

Code Name Verity

by Elizabeth Wein

Yes, this is another Elizabeth Wein title, and I could’ve mentioned it when I was telling you about Stateless. But, I thought this novel deserved a particular call out as well because it portrays life in a prisoner-of-war camp in Nazi-occupied France––as does Masters of the Air.

October 11th, 1943 — A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it’s barely begun.

When “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo, she’s sure she doesn’t stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she’s living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.

As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage, failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?

A universally acclaimed Edgar Award winner, Code Name Verity is a visceral read of danger, resolve, and survival that shows just how far true friends will go to save each other. This updated edition features a brand-new short story, essay from the author, a discussion guide, and more.

Amelia Earhart

by S. S. Taylor, illustrated by Ben Towle

This biographical graphic novel, filled with soaring panels of Amelia Earhart’s triumphant crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, definitely fills that plane-shaped hole in my heart. The atmospheric art and inspiring story are so immersive and captivating.

Amelia Earhart developed a love of flying at a very young age. What began as a simple joy became something much deeper–a commitment to open doors for all women. As Amelia built a name for herself in the field of aviation – breaking numerous records along the way – she inspired future trailblazers to soar to new heights.

With an introduction by astronaut pioneer Eileen Collins, Amelia Earhart: This Broad Ocean focuses on Amelia’s triumphant crossing of the Atlantic Ocean in 1928. Panel by panel, it offers a glimpse of her relentless ambition and tireless will to promote women’s rights. Above all, it leaves us with a sense of her deep-rooted desire to touch the sky.


by Marc Favreau

The TV show Masters of the Air is based on a non-fiction title of the same name. All to say, history (even when it’s presented in non-fiction) can be thrilling and riveting and exciting. Spies is a historical non-fiction book about two of the most interesting moments of the last century: the Cold War and the rise of spies.

The Cold War spanned five decades as America and the USSR engaged in a battle of ideologies with global ramifications. Over the course of the war, with the threat of mutually assured nuclear destruction looming, billions of dollars and tens of thousands of lives were devoted to the art and practice of spying, ensuring that the world would never be the same.

Rife with intrigue and filled with fascinating historical figures whose actions shine light on both the past and present, this timely work of narrative nonfiction explores the turbulence of the Cold War through the lens of the men and women who waged it behind closed doors, and helps explain the role secret and clandestine operations have played in America’s history and its national security.

Atomic Women

by Roseanne Montillo

One of my favorite parts of Masters of the Air is how you get pulled into the lives of not one historical figure but many, from pilots to mechanics to spies. (It doesn’t hurt that they’re all played by beautiful actors). Similarly, Atomic Women is about an ensemble of women during the same period.

They were leaning over the edge of the unknown and afraid of what they would discover there—meet the World War II female scientists who worked in the secret sites of the Manhattan Project. Recruited not only from labs and universities from across the United States but also from countries abroad, these scientists helped in—and often initiated—the development of the atomic bomb, taking starring roles in the Manhattan Project. In fact, their involvement was critical to its success, though many of them were not fully aware of the consequences.

  • Lise Meitner and Irène Joliot-Curie (daughter of Marie Curie), who laid the groundwork for the Manhattan Project from Europe
  • Elizabeth Rona, the foremost expert in plutonium, who gave rise to the “Fat Man” and “Little Boy,” the bombs dropped over Japan
  • Leona Woods, Elizabeth Graves, and Joan Hinton, who were inspired by European scientific ideals but carved their own paths

This book explores not just the critical steps toward the creation of a successful nuclear bomb, but also the moral implications of such an invention.