Pierre Clostermann earned his pilot's license in 1937 at the age of 16. When war broke out in 1939 he was studying engineering in the USA. He volunteered for the Free French forces and joined No. 341 'Alsace' Squadron of the RAF. He ended the war commanding a flight of Tempests and with nearly 30 'kills'. He won the DSO, DFC and Bar. After the war, Closterman went into politics and worked for Dassault. He returned to action briefly during the Algerian war.
The author was commissioned from the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst in 1962 and retired from the Brigade of Gurkhas in 1998. A member of the British Commission for Military History and a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society, he speaks fluent Nepali and is a keen horseman.