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MIG Pilot: The Final Escape of Lt. Belenko
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MIG Pilot: The Final Escape of Lt. Belenko

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  389 Ratings  ·  54 Reviews
To be a MIG pilot in Russia is to be as close to heaven as communism allows. Millions are spent on your training. And nothing is too lavish for your living. Lt Viktor Belenko was a MIG-25 pilot - one of Russia's elite warriors and the supreme expression of the ideal communist man. Or so everyone believed.
Thwn on September 6, 1976, while on a routine training flight, Lt. Be
Paperback, 222 pages
Published October 1st 1983 by Avon Books (first published 1980)
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I surprise myself that I actually like this book. It was rather difficult to overcome the culture differences, but the theme of the book was well thought out and well written. It wasn't until about halfway through the book that I des covered this was a true story. Which made me like it all the more (good books are always more exiting when they are true stories).

I am very much impressed by this mans character and work ethic. Even beyond his charisma and bravery, I believe he should be commended
George Bratcher
Nov 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to George by: World Civilizations Teacher
I first read this book in the Spring of 1985 while a Junior at Warren Central High School. Up to this point, having watched the nightly news since about age 8, I was scared to death of the Soviet Union. After reading the book, I FEARED for the Russians and Eastern Communists countries, realizing Russia was simply a 3rd world country with a bomb, and their own people pushed to cynicism about Communism. One of my favorite lines is where Belenko speaks of his days working in the tank factory, and t ...more
Christian D.  Orr
Mar 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The courageous and inspirational story of Soviet Air Force Lt. Viktor I. Belenko, who gave up up prestigious and privileged life as a MiG pilot and risked everything out of an unquenchable thirst for freedom. And through his defection, Viktor Ivanovich gave the U.S. military and intelligence communities an invaluable gift, an aviation goldmine known as the MiG-25 Foxbat. Highly recommended reading.

Not only does the book give a fascinating detailed description of the MiG-25's strengths and weakne
Apr 07, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is like the fore runner to the great non-fiction works that I'm currently reading. It was originally written in 1980 and has a great voice. Telling a very first person account but without using the first person. I found that I liked this detached aspect of the book.

I would say that the most difficult part of the story is remembering that once Russia was thought of totally differently. It's hard to imagine what those times were like. It's incredible to realize that the cold war didn't e
Steve Hartman
May 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, biography
In this true story from the Cold War, Soviet pilot Lt. Viktor Belenko, on a routine training mission in 1976, veers off course and heads for Japan in his MiG 25 Foxbat. This book tells the story along two vectors; the human interest story of the man and the technology story of the plane.

As a pilot of the Soviet Union's newest interceptor, Lt. Belenko was one of the Soviet military's elite. Pampered and given every special treatment communism allowed, what would drive such a man to deliver himsel
Dec 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Už ani nevím, jak se mi to dostalo na to-read list, ale bylo to skvělé a všem bych to vřele doporučila.

Viktor Bělenko se narodil roku 1947 v tehdejším SSSR. Z nuzných podmínek se dostal až na pozici armádního pilota, ale ač se mu na tamní poměry vůbec nežilo zle, žily v něm již delší dobu pochybnosti týkající se režimu. Nacházel nesrovnalosti a nesmysly v projevech strany. Nechápal, proč země není schopna připravit se na žně a vždy je tak třeba povolat na pole všechny včetně pilotů, přičemž i t
William Stone
A real-life Cold-War tale...

Being born the year he defected and raised his first few years in the States, this was a story I never knew had happened. That said, I'm glad that Mr. Barron had the opportunity to write this tale and get it published for posterity sake.

Lt. Belenko's story illustrates exactly the cruelty and harshness that Cold-War Russia was under. We see him struggle with the frustration in facing the control and restriction of the Soviet party and how many of the people that were
Aug 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The story follows Belenko, poster-boy of a New Communist, from his childhood to his escape in one of Russia's prize fighters. I love this book. It's funny, suspenseful, and very real. From spraying trees green, drinking jet fuel, listening to illicit guitar music, and watching your ceiling slowly collapse, this book is a never-ending source of amusement but also an education in Cold War era Soviet life. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Russian culture, Soviet-American ...more
Apr 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone! We all need to understand the dangers of socialism.
Recommended to Michael by: Sherri
This book was an eye opening journey into the life of what my life would be like under a socialistic rule. I'm getting ready to be a pilot and I can't even imagine what he had to go through to be a pilot in the Soviet Union. I wish we all could read this book in order to understand the dangers of socialism and why we should avoid any steps toward socialism with all the fervor we can. I'm grateful for Lt. Belenko for being brave enough to stand up to a system he knew was corrupt. It would be awes ...more
Mar 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
I read this book when the Cold War was boiling over in the mid 80s. I was just starting high school. At the time, it affirmed the idea that everything good was in the West and everything bad was in the East. Soon after, my worldview would become much more nuanced. However, I recall the book was pro-USA without becoming jingoistic. There were even some critiques at the excesses of our society. It's a great biographical tale that had stayed in my memory after three decades. What Viktor Belenko lik ...more
Feb 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I love this story--kid born in poverty, abondoned by parents, not much to hope for under Soviet rule. But he is easily inspired (namely by Saint-Exupéry and the romance of flight), and Belenko's life quest is to one day enjoy the freedom of the skies and to become the ultimate New Soviet Man. I'm convinced that if we could approach challenges--or even what seem to be insurmountable limitation--we could be the next Jack Wheeler, if wanted. Also inspiring: though Belenko had obtained his dream of ...more
Dec 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. It was a glimpse into a world so crazy I don't think I could have dreamed it up on my own. The Soviet Union was insane! It made me incredibly grateful for the freedom and prosperity we enjoy in the United States. It also got me thinking a lot about what motivates people and how to best solve economic inequalities. Apparently, communism isn't the answer.

Just a heads up-- the book ends way to abruptly. Prepare yourself for that, because otherwise it is quite frustrating
Jan 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Even though this book was published almost 40 years ago, it is based on a fascinating - and true - story. I found it very enlightening describing the pilot's youth growing up in communist Soviet Union and just how impoverished so much of the population truly was. And then upon his escape, it was fascinating to see his disbelief of things we take for granted every day in the U.S. A great read even now just to understand that period of time.
Sudha Bellamkonda
Apr 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, history
This is written from an undeniably American perspective so there is room for debate among some of the qualitative assessments of life in the Soviet Union vs US that are portrayed. That said, Belenko's acute observations that fuel his skepticism of soviet propaganda are very clearly stated and add legitimacy. He has certainly lead a very interesting and brave life, the book itself is could-not-put-it-down fast paced.
Jonathan Friedmann
Jul 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
This is a fascinating true story of a boy raised in communist Russia to a top MiG pilot. He sees that communism doesn't work, makes a thrilling escape to the USA, but struggles to believe the freedoms of capitalism. I would recommend reading two books before this one to really grasp the full depth of this testimonial. Start with 1984 to see Orwell's predictions of communism and then read Yeager to follow the thrilling true story of top US pilot. Then this book completes the comparison.
Feb 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, travel
I read this when I was a kid because I was into airplanes and war and stuff; I saw a jet on the cover and thought 'cool.' It really blew my mind because it was so harsh and crazy. The writing is really direct, I like that.

Belenko became a hero to me after reading this. Me, I'm just a soft, lazy, pencil-necked, nerd. I can't imagine being as tough and resourceful a man as he was.

I LOVE to lend this book out to people!!
George Mazurek)
Sep 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A must-read for everbody who hasnt experienced life in a communism. Sadly, I did... ...more
Khan Trav
Jan 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Good book, interesting look into soviet culture of the cold war.
Jane Erickson
Sep 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A hell of a hero.
Phoebus Wong
Aug 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book let's you understand the mindset of people growing up in a dictatorship / closed society. It reminds you how big the world is and the endless and differing backgrounds and values that all of us possess. It also shows the proccess of self discovery of an adult as he enters a democracy. However, what this book lacks is an insight into the failures and downfalls of democracy.
Mike Macdonald
Jan 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Amazing look into the defection of one of the best Soviet pilots. MUST read for it's historical value as well as it's intrigue
Nov 09, 2010 rated it liked it
An excellent slice of history that I was completely unaware of about a Soviet fighter pilot who defected to America. It delves into his personal history and tells a grim tale about the Soviet Union. This book could have been useful in one of my college courses about Russia. If this copy had been in better condition it would remain in my permanent collection. =)
Diana Adkins
Nov 14, 2008 rated it liked it
I was fascinated with life in Russia. Especially the info about the lack of building codes for their housing. When an earthquake hit in Russia many years after I had read the book
I understood why none of the buildings had withstood the quake. This man was desperate and probably didn't know just how brave he was at the time.
Jul 17, 2010 rated it liked it
An account of what it was like for a Russian pilot to escape a real life 'Animal Farm' environment during the height of the cold war. I'd give it a solid 3 1/2 stars. Makes you grateful for the things you generally take for granted in America
Claude S
Jan 06, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: history buffs
Entertaining biography of the first mig pilot to defect to Japan and the west. Interesting accounts of Lt. Belenko's reaction to the abundance of the west, which he believes to be propaganda for his benefit.
Dec 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Powerful, well written book about a Russian pilot who escapes to the west in a top-secret Jet. Enlightening read, really got a good view of what Russia was like at the hight of the cold war. (Belenko's attempts to acclimate to western life can prove funny at times!)
Apr 10, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: borrowed
I read this in the late 80s, when I was in 7th or 8th grade. I checked it out from my school library because it had a jet on the cover. I'm in no position to review it, as it was so long ago, but I liked the story and I'm glad I read it while the Cold War was still on.
Mike Grady
Apr 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: older
Read this a long time ago, when the Cold War was still going on. As a kid, it provided a glimpse into "the other side" as well as the thought processes behind someone defecting to their sworn enemy. Fascinating read.
Apr 01, 2012 rated it liked it
Notwithstanding the crummy writing, the story is very good. It's a fascinating story but after I read it, I realized it was written by someone who writes for Reader's Digest and it Really reads like Reader's Digest. ugh.
Feb 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
its about a Russian defecting to the united states basically, i loved it
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