I first read this book in 1958 when I was 11 and just finished reading it again. It had a big effect on me and my view of war and warriors. Blair put...moreI first read this book in 1958 when I was 11 and just finished reading it again. It had a big effect on me and my view of war and warriors. Blair put together the stories of a few military aviators who went down behind enemy lines during the Korean War and managed to escape back to their own forces. The, typically Caucasian, men of the US forces simply could not blend into the local populace, and as a result, found themselves trying to E&E without being found by the enemy, who had proven themselves to be ruthless and brutal to POWs.
Although the writing seems a bit stilted and even awkward at times, the stories are nothing short of incredible. Most of these men were injured and pushed onward despite those injuries, disease, infections, despair, and enemy forces all around them.
If you've read similar stories of those who escaped from or evaded capture during WW II, particularly in the Asian theaters, or during the Vietnam War, the parallels are inescapable. There are a lot of stories of warriors fighting back to their own forces against seemingly insurmountable odds. Blair's "Beyond Courage" is an important part of that genre.
This book has been out of print for a long time now, but you can still find it the same way I did -- through your local library (I had to get it through the inter-library loan program). Some publisher should republish it. In the meantime, it is worth the extra effort to track down a copy. It's not a pleasant read by any means, but is an important part of the history or war and the warrior mindset.(less)
As always, Walt Boyne has delivered a book that goes beyond just the history of the subject. He has managed to take the history of the military develo...moreAs always, Walt Boyne has delivered a book that goes beyond just the history of the subject. He has managed to take the history of the military development and use of the helicopter from its inception to today's battlefields and beyond, while keeping it all in context. I can't imagine another military aviation historian handling this subject better.
Boyne describes the first combat search-and-rescue mission, of a downed liaison pilot and his three wounded passengers, flown by a US Army pilot in a newfangled Sikorsky YR-4B deep in the jungles of Burma. He then traces the subsequent development of military helicopter aviation, complete with the service rivalries and political machinations that alternately helped and hindered progress.
I found his in-depth approach to the helicopter's coming-of-age during the Vietnam War of particular value. Boyne, as usual, pulls no punches when describing the tactical, strategic, and political decisions, and blunders, that surrounded the growing combat importance of the helicopter. The history of how the employment of the helicopter surmounted technical shortcomings with in-the-field innovations and the sheer bravado and courage of the aircrews.
This book, however, does not present a myopic, US-only viewpoint. No, Boyne delves into the world of Soviet/Russian helicopter development and employment. And it does not end with descriptions of the amazing feats of today's helicopter crews in Iraq and Afghanistan. He winds up this fascinating history with a clear-eyed look ahead at the future of helicopters in military engagements yet to come. Boyne's final paragraph is worth quoting:
The helicopter has significantly changed the face of modern warfare. It has done so despite restrictions placed on its performance by its inherent design features. And perhaps more than anything else, it has done so because of the brave, talented aircrews who flew the helicopter in the most intensely dangerous conditions of warfare that have even been seen.
Need more proof? Consider the recent helicopter assault in Afghanistan that led to the death of Usama Bin Laden. Can you imagine any more effective demonstration of the unique combat utility of the helicopter?(less)
One of the true classics about WW I air combat written by a man who, in a few short months, proved himself a master of air-to-air combat and a true le...moreOne of the true classics about WW I air combat written by a man who, in a few short months, proved himself a master of air-to-air combat and a true leader. His book serves as a clear reminder of where modern air combat originated. Rickenbacker was one of the men who, literally, wrote the book! Interested in air combat? You must read this book.(less)
A fascinating book for anyone who designs anything for print. Merely browsing through the book will spark creative ideas. Actually reading through McW...moreA fascinating book for anyone who designs anything for print. Merely browsing through the book will spark creative ideas. Actually reading through McWade's clear, concise explanations of everything from the use of the color wheel to choosing typefaces to putting "white space" to good use will help keep your design skills sharp. And if enjoy this book but you have not yet subscribed to McWade's outstanding Before & After magazines, you really should!(less)
This is sort of a less-humorous World War I version of Catch-22. Robinson's Goshawk Squadron is very well done and brutally realistic, albeit with som...moreThis is sort of a less-humorous World War I version of Catch-22. Robinson's Goshawk Squadron is very well done and brutally realistic, albeit with some rather flamboyantly over-the-top characters.
The dogfights are carefully drawn and help to immerse the reader in the thick of the action.
The action accurately follows the course of the war as it occurred in 1918, adding to the building urgency as a major German attack strikes deep into the Allied lines.
The only aspect that interfered with my reading was Robinson's penchant for constantly shifting points of view within a scene, including shifting to the POV of characters that had never been truly defined. However, his ability quickly to find the core of their hopes and fears without slowing the action mitigated that "problem."
Overall, Goshawk Squadron is clearly one of the seminal historical novels of the WW I aviation genre, well deserving of having been short listed for the Booker Prize back in the early '70s. I can't believe I hadn't discovered it decades ago! If you're looking for WW I aviation fiction, this book must be on your to-read list.(less)
Hooper's book is more about the men who fought a thankless war over one of the most hazardous areas in an unarmored, virtually unarmed, and slow airpl...moreHooper's book is more about the men who fought a thankless war over one of the most hazardous areas in an unarmored, virtually unarmed, and slow airplane (the Cessna O-1 Bird Dog) than about flying the Bird Dog. Men who flew and fought right down in the weeds, typically well within the range of even small arms fire. The men were mostly young, newly minted Army pilots with an abundance of determination, intestinal fortitude, and camaraderie and a limited tolerance for bureaucracy and regulations.
Most of the book is told in their own words, with inputs from several participants alternated as a particular event or story unfolds, all blended with editorial commentary to set the scene and provide a "higher altitude" view of what was going on. This approach provides a thoroughly engaging means of understanding not only what was happening but what those combatants were thinking and how they were handling both the stresses and challenges of combat.
However, Hooper does not just tell one combat story after another. He wisely provides a lot of insights into what they did before and after missions, how they dealt with the constant threat of death, and how they partied to alleviate the tensions of war. Again, most of this is told in the first-person by the men who lived it.
If you're an experienced combat pilot, you'll feel a kinship with the young men in the book. If you're not, you'll come away with a renewed appreciation for their trials, successes, and even failures.