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Chickenhawk

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4.26 of 5 stars 4.26  ·  rating details  ·  4,447 ratings  ·  242 reviews
More than half a million copies of "Chickenhawk" have been sold since it was first published in 1983. Now with a new afterword by the author and photographs taken by him during the conflict, this straight-from-the-shoulder account tells the electrifying truth about the helicopter war in Vietnam. This is Robert Mason's astounding personal story of men at war. A veteran of m ...more
ebook, 496 pages
Published March 29th 2005 by Penguin Books (first published 1983)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Larry Bassett
Add this one to my long list of books about the American War in Vietnam. I am the right age to have been drafted for that war, but was not due to a variety of deferments and a high lottery number. The short story is that I was considering fleeing to Canada if I was drafted but never had to make that momentous decision that would have significantly changed my life. I never came to that fork in the road so will always wonder what I would have done if I was actually faced with that choice.

The book
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Mike
Chickenhawk I had to raise my rating on this reread to 5 Stars. This is the story of a helicopter pilot and his experiences from training to combat in Vietnam. He has a great eye for the successes and failures of the new air assault tactics as they are developed and employed. The heart-pounding trips into hot LZ’s come through clearly. He was involved in the Ia Drang Valley battle so vividly described in the book and movie of We Were Soldiers Once...and Young: Ia Drang - the Battle That Changed ...more
Terri
What a terrific book. So much more than I expected. More than a memoir, more than a war book. It feels like a window back through time to the jungles of Southern Vietnam where we find a war that is hard to understand and even harder to justify.
While I found myself disliking Robert Mason, his book and his brutal honesty is hard not to respect. He could have shaved much detail from this book and still had a hit on his hands, but he gave everything he had to Chickenhawk and it became a special pie
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Travis
I first read this book years ago, and it is without a doubt one of the best war memoirs on my shelf and one to which I regularly return (as I just did for the third time, to read during a lengthy trip abroad).

The book recounts the training and duty tour of Robert Mason, a helicopter pilot who served in the air cav during the height of the Vietnam conflict. Many consider it the best book written by a Vietnam vet and I would be inclined to agree (the only close contender would be the sniper memoi
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Steven Z.
One of the most iconic sounds that people relate to the Vietnam War is the “womp, woosh” of American Huey helicopters. Whether watching a film like Apocalypse Now or reading a book on the war those sounds will reverberate in the reader’s mind. During the war about 12,000 helicopters were deployed by the United States military. Of that number 7,013 were Hueys, almost all of which were US Army. The total number of helicopter pilots killed in Vietnam was 2202, and total non-pilot crew members who d ...more
Tasha
A great, great memoir of a vietnam huey pilot. mason really puts you right in the action with amazing detail, personal (emotional and physical) experiences and some humor thrown in for good reading. I keep wavering between a 4 and 5 star read. I still may change it. I thought his writing was brilliant as it really put you in the jungles of vietnam, provided experiences on so many levels (emotional, physical, and personal to him) and even in glimpses of the vietnamese people. really a powerful re ...more
Carol
I have owned this book for a long time but wasn't ready to read it. I am so glad that I did! The story of a helicopter pilot in Viet Nam told by one who was there. I am amazed that Bob was able to remember all of the details about the war which he did. I'm sure the technical details of flying the helicopter will always remain with him. However he also had some amazing descriptions of the country of VIet Nam and the bases at which he was stationed. Everyday life in the Army in Viet Nam is also d ...more
Dustin Gaughran
This was an excellent book about a Huey pilot in Vietnam. It's very raw, and very personal. What I found most intriguing was how a regular guy who chose to fly in the army for a living began humbly enough, and then gets throw into the worst of the war instantly. I think it captured the insanity of (that) war perfectly. You can feel how the whole experience is changing him, and how the experiences get worse on him. I realize that's the case for the majority of people that experience heavy combat ...more
Evan
Actor Harrison Ford is a helicopter pilot and says that other chopper jocks often tell him he should read Chickenhawk...and he told the author he was a fan of this pilot's Vietnam memoirs. The elite special operations chopper unit Night Stalker's pilots (i.e. from the killing of Bin Ladin, Blackhawk Down, etc) say the majority of them have read it. And a small part of the book covers the author's involvement in the events from the movie "We Were Soldiers Once" (Mel Gibson).

Do you need another e
...more
Rob Kitchin
Chickenhawk is widely touted as one of the best accounts of the Vietnam War from the perspective of a soldier serving there. And for good reason. Mason’s narrative is well written, engaging, and often gripping, having the feel of an authentic account given its matter-of-fact, conversational, and unpretentious style that details both highs and lows, often portraying Mason in a poor or ambivalent light. He captures in detail the everyday training, missions, conversations, action, frivolity and mun ...more
Rowan
Apr 16, 2010 Rowan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: personal viewpoint on Vietnam war
After an inital slow start I became thoroughly engrossed in this book.

It is the story of Army helicopter pilot Robert Mason and his life and experiences beginning in 1965 from trainee following through in detail his time of service in the Vietnam War and period afterwards.

What I loved about this book is the way the author writes in an absolutely raw and complelling honesty about his service and life. From a solider's point of view straight up including lots of little details from the descriptio
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Aaron George
This is one of my favourite books of all time. It was loaned to me very graciously, many years ago, and once I got my own copy I have never stopped re-reading it. Mason's honesty about his ambitions (not really a very gung-ho warrior) and subsequent realization that all the smart-ass antics in the world weren't going to save him really endeared him to me. I cried at the end the first time, and most times since.
Some other reviewers have stated that they felt it a bit repetitive, over-simplified
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Gerhard Bartmann
i wrestled with becoming a helicopter pilot, ultimately the extra year it required kept me from doing it , and quite probably kept me alive. i lived in the entire region described in this book for 2 years, albeit a year after the descriptions of conflict. except for dispatches no book has come closer to my own universe in vietnam.
Gary Willett
Feb 12, 2010 Gary Willett rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Gary by: Dr. McQuarrie/Neuro/VAMC
This is a great read for Vietnam Veterans or those interested in how it really was. Surely today's helicopter pilots would enjoy technical and tactical comparisons of that era to their much advanced ships today.

A veteran of more than 1,000 combat missions, Robert Mason's personal account is written by a real person with real life events of what he did, how he felt about it, and how it affected him, his family and those he served with. Here is the truth about the helicopter war in Vietnam.

Sadly h
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Gerry
I had read “We Were Soldiers Once and Young” in December of 2012; I found this accounting of both Landing Zone X-Ray and then Landing Zone Albany of the Vietnam War riveting and flush with detail. I had appreciated that Mr. Joe Galloway added to the near end of his experience in Landing Zone X-Ray paid tribute to Dickie Chappelle as she was killed stepping on a landmine while the battle raged elsewhere for the men of “X-Ray”. The book by General Hal Moore and Mr. Joe Galloway should be a book re ...more
James Loftus
What a book!

I served in Norforce an Australian Army Reserve Unit based in North Qld in the 1980's. Whilst knocking around with regular soldiers these top blokes & impressive individuals, warriors, all. I appreciated that great Army sense of humour, many of them loved to read and BJ the snake catcher. BJ could be rocking back taking time out, out bush, when he'd say look at that brown snake & catch the bloody thing. He was collector. Anyway, this is amazing, at least I thought it was. he
...more
Tim Lynch
I told a helicopter pilot the story of my days with the Forest Service in 1976 with the Sprucebudworm Spray Project. I told her how the FS hired former Army pilots just home from Vietnam. Nixon finally got us out of there in 1975. In 1976, there were plenty of helicopter pilots looking for a job. Their job was to get a crew of two to four people to specific spots in the forest and land enough for us to jump out. The helicopter would veer down the valley and we would be alone with each other. Our ...more
Clay Palmer
"We do not want an expanding struggle with consequences that no one can forsee, nor will we bluster or bully or flaunt our power. But we will not surrender and we will not retreat." Robert Mason's "Chickenhawk" kept me on the edge of my seat with its thrilling depiction of the Vietnam War through the eyes of a helicopter pilot. I thoroughly enjoyed this action-packed story of true events and thought it was a well written no-nonsense account of a horrific war.

Robert Mason writes with a distinct w
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Nick Welch
The theme of this book is to live every day like it's your last day on on earth. That means live your day as if you knew you were going to day the next day. War itself is unpredictable and very dangerous so you never know what will happen to you or your friends. In war everything you know and expect disappears and is replaced by negative aspects. In the book Chickenhawk by Robert Mason gives you a whole new view of war itself.

I would easily give this book five stars. It is only one of two histor
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Theweed74955 Wild
A great book about a helicopter pilot in Vietnam. Detailed and accurate. Some white-knuckle heroics and honest look at the military machine in action. A lot of action, but short on what the rest of the story is. I didn't see a whole lot about what the pilot thought about the war or how he dealt with his feelings about it and the controversy surrounding it. If you're a vet, you'll like it.
Mirko
A gripping personal narrative of the helicopter war in Vietnam told from the viewpoint of a Slick pilot, the book spends very little time (if at all) on politics or the brass REMF's, but keeps it's focus on the front lines, the action, the camaraderie & emotions of the people who actually got their hands dirty. There is no embellishment or attempts to "save face" when talking about something "bad"... It is simply a story of how it was told from the perspective of someone who was there & ...more
Josh
Excellent auto-biography. Not a grunt's perspective, a helicopter pilot's, but still a story of someone who experienced the horror of war in a very real way. Also technical details on what it took to fly a Huey doing wartime, from flight training, ground zero, to execution of maneuvers which would never be taught (or recommended) outside a war zone. Story is told from beginning (enlistment and training) to end (a brief afterward added some time after initial publication of the book).

While not wr
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Jolene Tan
This book kept me on the edge of my seat throughout. Never got bored with it. Robert Mason wrote it in a way where even non-military personnel can understand what's happening. I loved it.
Michael Burnam-fink
One of the greatest of the Vietnam War memoirs, Chickenhawk absolutely covers the joy of flight, the terror of combat, and the insanity of Vietnam as a whole. Robert Mason always wanted to fly, and the Army would give him a helicopter in exchange for a little stint in the Air Cav. Of course, nothing is easy, and that tour meant a year of heat, mud, mortars, whorehouses, hot LZ and crazy officers. It's hard to say what I love more: descriptions of the crazy tricks used to push a Huey to its limit ...more
Edward Truitt
A direct, honest, unpretentious, highly-informative and well-written story -- I couldn't put it down until I was through. Robert Mason is a genuine American hero - and this assessment comes from someone who was 100% against the war and, thank G-d, never had to go.
Ivan
This was a fascinating book. Very unlike most of the books I read, this is an account of one helicopter pilot's experience in the Vietnam war. It starts off as a lot of fun reading about learning to fly the Huey, and then you can feel the war deteriorating as the situations and outcomes he experiences start to go bad. It is realistic without being too gruesome, the way it is written it feels like he sails through the conflict a bit without being too affected by it (of course this isn't really tr ...more
Anthony Ryan
Robert Mason enlists in the US Army because he wants to fly helicopters and soon finds himself piloting Hueys amid the escalating horrors of Vietnam in 1965. The tension is palpable as Mason's clear, immersive prose puts you in the cockpit as he descends into a series of 'hot landing zones'. Often as funny as it is horrifying, the narrative remains free of any unlikely heroics and completely devoid of any jarring jingoism; Mason is as baffled by the war as everyone else. The final chapter is als ...more
J.L. Day
Apr 13, 2015 J.L. Day rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ANY military historian, aviator
Recommended to J.L. by: Randy Shytles
PHENOMENAL!!!!!!!!!!! The reader will truly feel/see/taste the author's perspective of his entire experience. Written so well I had white knuckles and was sweating through my shirt half of the time I was reading it. Truly a vivid portrayal of every aspect of war, it has been years since I read it, but I still remember it well because I re-read it about 6 times over a 2-3 year period, it just kept calling me back. Gonna have to dig it out and read it again, just writing this has me recalling so m ...more
James
Perhaps the best book about service in Vietnam,
so many of the books about Vietnam are literary frauds,
but this one rings true from start to finish.
Philip
This book is a classic for a reason; THE best book on the Hueys' and their pilots' roles in the early days of Vietnam. It actually reminded me a lot of "American Sniper," in that it's the story of a good soldier in a bad war who has trouble readjusting to the real world.

IMHO, it could have been a bit shorter in places, and I could have done with less on the technical and tactical aspects of flying a helicopter - but I'm sure folks who've been there liked having that stuff. For anyone who doesn't
...more
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“Supposedly we were generating excitement, or underscoring a memorable event. But according to a grunt, “We wanted to know why you fuckers wouldn’t come down and give us a fucking ride.” 0 likes
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