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3.8  ·  Rating details ·  242 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews
James Salter returned to his second novel, The Arm of Flesh - not to revise it but to entirely rewrite it. The result is this new work, Cassada. It tells of the lives of officers in an Air Force squadron in occupied Europe and their response to a young newcomer, bright and ambitious, whose fate is to be an emblem of their own.
Paperback, 224 pages
Published November 29th 2001 by Counterpoint (first published 2000)
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May 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I would give my left nut (if I had such) to be able to write like this. By far my favorite Salter book. Minimalist, in a way. Not overly long, not "padded" for page count like so many contemporary novels. The descriptions of flying in difficult weather set my heart racing. My father was a fighter pilot (both a WWII and Korean War vet) and during the 1950s was a squadron commander at various postings (stateside and other). As a kid I remember a plane going down near the base and my mama freaking ...more
Jan 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Actual rating: 4.5 stars.

Salter was there long before me, two wars--Korea and Vietnam--earlier, but judging by my experiences at USAF fighter squadrons in Germany and the Netherlands in the late 1970s and early 1980s, things in my day were no different than in his, and he has captured it exactly.

I know Salter's pilots. I know their wives. I know the solitariness of flying single seat jets, one of the most individualistic of military occupations. I know the weather in Europe, and how it can sudde
May 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ficciones
Like The Hunters, his other novel about competitive pilots, this made me glad to have had a ghostly father and no brothers.
Jan 27, 2018 rated it liked it
A sparsely written novel that deals with the male egos of fighter pilots in Cold War Europe. Cassada is a newcomer trying to prove that he belongs, yet wondering if he really does.
Not the best Salter novel I’ve read, but still worth the effort.
Apr 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Salter writes beautifully - I can't believe I have never heard of him before. Some of the descriptions were lovely and it is good to read a book that leaves lots of questions unanswered...things to ponder upon.
"No sound except for the clock. Beyond the windows the night is fading, smooth from the passage of hours. Exhausted from the same dream over and over, Isbell wakes. His eyes see nothing. It's silent and cold. He lies in bed aching, too ancient to move. Out there, somewhere, more silent sti
John Sperling
Jan 28, 2018 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recommended
Great story, great narrator, great everything - recommended.
carl  theaker
'Cassada' is a compelling read of US Air Force fighter pilots stationed
in Germany during the Cold War, 1955. Various reviews and the jacket
blurb use terms such as 'spare', 'sparse', 'terse' to describe Slater's
style. Indeed it appears he set some standards for himself and stuck to
them with the book measuring only about 200 pages.

As this is during the Cold War, combat is not an issue, but how pilots
battle the European weather, interact with each other, how the rookies are
accepted, or not, how t
Chris Gager
Mar 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Will start tonight if I don't go to "The Lego Movie".

Started last night and I am enjoying this book. The dominant feeling is tension as Salter weaves in the back story with an ongoing crisis. Cassada is the new pilot and the book must be named after him for a reason. The style here is much the same as in "All That Is". Very sketchy and quick. Salter conveys plenty in his few, well-chosen words. The flying scenes are outstanding: gripping and exiting. I've had the outcome spoiled for me by a clu
Sep 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: friday-reads
I fell madly in love with James Salter’s prose about a year ago, first with A Sport and a Pastime and then with Light Years. While each of those were appealing to me in plot—the first about new love, the beginning of an affair; the second about the end of love, the dissolution of a marriage—what really hooked me was the writing. Salter’s words are like a tide: spare, then lyrical, but constantly flowing, with unbelievable grace, down a page. So I picked up Cassada, his novel about fighter pilots ...more
Mar 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
Lean, spare, blah blah. Really enjoyed this. There's a crazy suppression of emotion here, and yet still I care about the characters. Salter just lets it out really efficiently; it's never sentimental. Like: "Isbell, subdued though not by anything he is hearing, is thinking of what he would give to have it not have happened. He is almost sickened by it, the guilt." That's powerful, and it's again, efficient and unsentimental. You also pretty much know what's going to happen throughout, which keep ...more
Oct 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
James Salter can do little wrong in my book and I give everything I read of his 5 stars based on the fact that if I'm prepared to read a book again then it will get 5 stars.

This is not his best but that sounds like a put down. It's still brilliant, beautifully written and compelling. Heroism and sense of doom and a celebration of life is what this book is about. Gorgeous passages describing flight and also the competitive interplay of the different personalities.

Salter rewrote and must have re
Patrick McCoy
James Salter has long been known as a writer's writer, so I've been meaning to read one of his books, and the fact that he died earlier this year inspired me to pick up Cassada (2000). Interestingly, it was an early novel, called The Arm of Flesh (1961), that Salter re-wrote when it was slated to be reprinted. It was based on Slater's experiences as a fighter pilot at Bitburg Airbase in 1954 to 1957. It felt a little too technical at times, perhaps had I known more about flying and the Air Force ...more
Matthew Willis
Apr 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More beautifully written stories of the lives of fighter pilots after WW2 from James Salter, very much in the style of the better-known The Hunters. The narrative centres around a new pilot, anxious to prove himself but feeling the odds are stacked against him, while we also follow his squadron mates, commanding officer and some of the pilots' wives as the narrative unfolds. Salter employs a split narrative, building a sense of the ominous, toward the inevitable climax. No-one writes about men t ...more
May 01, 2013 rated it liked it
Salter knows his flying, and that shows throughout this slender volume about the interactions among Air Force pilots stationed in occupied France and Germany. Cassada, the main subject of the novel, is a flawed character, talented, though insecure and always seeking to advance within his company. Salter has widely been lionized for his writing style and his influence on other prominent authors. But I found his narrative flat and uninspired. I also didn't like its "protagonists" very much. Maybe ...more
Oct 06, 2014 rated it liked it
James Salter's style is so minimalist that it can be hard for me to tell whether something is going unsaid, or being implied, or if I'm being a less than astute reader. I really enjoyed Solo Faces, but I wasn't wild about this one. I was impressed with the way Salter managed to put me so thoroughly at an American air base during the Cold War in Germany, but the characters were so hard to like that my enjoyment didn't last. I don't think I'll give up on his writing, but it may be a while before I ...more
Ana Maria
Since I don't really know a lot about pilots and planes and the such, it was a hard read to get into right away. I felt that as soon as I began reading, it was as though I started somewhere in the middle of the story; not at the beginning. At times, I had to go back and re-read a few sentences to get the 'gist" of what was going on. The ending left me kind of hangin'.
The Great Dan Marino
Jun 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
A light and perfect touch in each paragraph. Smart pacing/structure. He's interesting about punctuation and pronouns, makes things work that would be failings/oversights in most writers. Captivating descriptions of flight and sky and clouds. Sex under everything and plenty of tension of all kinds. Maybe the ellipticalness or apparent slightness limits its ceiling a bit but still kickass.
Jan 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017-reads
Salter's writing is economical. What makes this somewhat ordinary WWII tale interesting is what is left out on each page, versus what could have been left in or added. The story is in the negative space. That may sound confusing, but it isn't, and instead makes for a unique approach to a very typical story.
Daniel Mcneet
Mar 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
James Salter has written an excellent book. His sentence structure and story telling are excellent. Cassada a pilot sacrifices his life trying to help a fellow pilot who could not find the airfield in bad weather in Germany. Cassada runs out of fuel, crashed and died. But the other pilot landed safely. Good narration regarding Air Force pilots in the post Vietnam war Germany.
Feb 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this book. I just read Light Years, which I struggled to get through, and this was much closer to the experience I had with The Hunters and A Sport And A Pastime: quick and digestible, yet powerfully written.
Apr 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A stark, brilliant novel. Set at an American Air Force base in Germany at the end of WWII, the novel revolves around a tragic accident and its consequences. But, the strength of this novel is Salter's prose: he is the master of elegant understatement and simple beauty.
Jun 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Each of Salter's books is even better on re-reading - he's just the most masterful of storytellers and I'm not even interested in the military, war, flying or airplanes!

Re-reading as part of my homage to Salter - he really is breathtaking
Nathan Pearson
Apr 25, 2007 rated it did not like it
I just don't get what all the (supposed) unheralded masterpiece fuss is about.
Jan 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Aug 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: e-book, fiction
Dan Piette
Apr 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Pilot in Germany
Aug 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
Nice quick read about air force personell during the Korean war.
Nov 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Totally understand the Saint-Exupéry references ... I flew through this book, literally and figuratively, in a single sitting!
Jul 24, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
misfit pilot during WWII trying to prove himself to colleagues in somewhat chaotic unit, leading to the accident
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James Salter (1925 - 2015) was a novelist, short story writer, and screenwriter. Salter grew up in New York City and was a career officer and Air Force pilot until his mid-thirties, when the success of his first novel (The Hunters, 1957) led to a fulltime writing career. Salter’s potent, lyrical prose earned him acclaim from critics, readers, and fellow novelists. His novel A Sport and a Pastime ( ...more
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