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4.25  ·  Rating details ·  7,355 Ratings  ·  333 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 mor ...more
Paperback, 480 pages
Published September 4th 1984 by Penguin Books (first published 1983)
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Larry Bassett
Oct 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war, history
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
Steven Z.
Apr 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-war
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
Apr 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Rob Kitchin
Aug 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Steve Rezabek
May 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you are interested in history, war or aviation, this book is a must. I am a pilot so I understand many of the details being told and the logistics and complexity of what they were doing in their helicopters. Mr. Mason does an amazing job of covering the hardships they faced and the progression to get where you need to be to survive. I now have a new appreciation for the men (and woman) who served in Nam, and am embarrassed for the way they were treated when they came back home. I will never l ...more
Mar 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, history
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.
Athan Tolis
Feb 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, history
I’ve never flown a helicopter, but after reading Chickenhawk I reckon I have the experience.

The author is at his total best when he’s recalling his maneuvers getting in and out of “hot LZ’s” (to you and me, that’s landing zones where the enemy is shooting at you) and I could probably read about every single landing and takeoff detailed in here ten more times and not feel it’s been a waste of time.

So this is first and foremost a story of derring-do and an ode to flying. Anti-war it may be, but I’
Ugo Marsolais
Sep 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: vietnam
I guess I was spoiled by the glaring reviews and endorsements this book got and I was expecting more. Regardless of initial expectations, this is an excellent account of the life of a "slick" (transport) helicopter pilot. Mason piloted the famed Huey helicopters during his tour of duty, initially with the 1st Cav (yes, he did participate in the Ia Drang Valley battle, popularly known through the We Were Soldiers movie).

The last part of his Vietnam tour was with a unit called the Prospectors, and
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
Aug 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 16, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Robert French
I came to the book Chickenhawk because I read We Were Soldiers Once... and Young: Ia Drang - The Battle That Changed the War in Vietnam by Harold G. Moore several months ago. While searching GR I found several excellent reviews of Chickenhawk. Most of those reviews have done an exceptional job of reviewing the book and there is probably little that I can add. His chapter on Ia Drang Valley was particularly compelling because of my recent reading of General Harold G. Moore's book.

The only commen
Aaron George
Dec 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Martin Budd
Apr 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the very best books to come out of the Vietnam war. I really appreciate the writers honesty regarding his experiences, in combat, on leave or his life afterwards. He is searingly honest regarding the sex and drugs stuff - and comes over as a paid up member of the human race. Outstanding. This would make a perfect present for an older teenage boy you are struggling to get to love reading and books. There is nothing that should worry any parent, but the book is an honest account of one youn ...more
Gary Willett
Feb 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Richard Farnsworth
I began my flying career in 1987 hueys, learning the trade from expereinced Vietnam era pilots. So reading this was like sitting on one of my old warrant officer's knees as a young lieutenant.

Mostly an accurate depiction of what I heard as a series of 'and there I was' stories, in one book. The most interesting part to me was the afterward, and the update on the author's life- the story that told of his reintegration into 'the world' spoke volumes.
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.
Theweed74955 Wild
Oct 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Edward Truitt
Jun 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jolene Tan
Oct 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
May 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: vietnam-war
A well-written account from a first person perspective which pulls no punches. It sounds contradictory, but it is both overtly and subtly a microcosm of the entire Vietnam War.
Dec 12, 2008 rated it liked it
The first book I trusted that started changing my thinking about the American engagement in Viet Nam.
Raegan Butcher
Apr 25, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Superb memoir of the author's tour of duty as chopper pilot during the Vietnam war.
Dec 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Account of Army Helo pilot in Vietnam. Regarded as the bible of military helicopter pilots. Have read it twice.
DNF with Jack Mack
Best in its class. Wow! Exciting with a great ending.
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