Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Chickenhawk” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


4.27  ·  Rating details ·  8,726 ratings  ·  385 reviews
A true story from the battlefield that faithfully portrays the horror, the madness, and the trauma of the Vietnam War
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
Paperback, 512 pages
Published March 29th 2005 by Penguin Books (first published 1983)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Chickenhawk, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.27  · 
Rating details
 ·  8,726 ratings  ·  385 reviews

More filters
Sort order
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
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
Aug 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thriller
Excellent Read.
Book - Chickenhawk is Robert Mason's narrative of his experiences as a "Huey" UH-1 Iroquois helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War. The book chronicles his enlistment, flight training, deployment to and experiences in Vietnam, and his experiences after returning from the war.

Movie - Chicken Hawk: Men Who Love Boys is a 1994 American documentary produced, written, and directed by Adi Sideman. The film profiles members of the pedophile/pederasty organization North American Man/Boy
Feb 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Others have said it better about this memoir. Written in the years just after it occurred. And which I failed to read in the more than 50 years between. Because it's too close to home.

Robert Mason added an update as of 2004.

And I just have to add several issues that others sure haven't in regard to details in this telling. I STILL know at least 4 men who use the phrase "swave and deboner". Said AND spelled exactly like that. In fact, I heard it last week- just outside a conference room after a
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
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
Chris Steeden
The author, Robert Mason, was sent to Vietnam between Aug-1965 and Jul-1966 and flew more than 1,000 assault missions. He had joined the army in 1964 to be a helicopter pilot. This book, as he notes, ‘is a personal narrative of what I saw in Vietnam and how it affected me…Instead of dwelling on the political aspects of the war, I have concentrated on the actual condition of being a helicopter pilot in Vietnam.’

Straight out of flight school and into the jungles of Vietnam. No pressure then and a
Rob Kitchin
Aug 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
May 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A classic. Following Robert Mason into the early days of Vietnam as a young man determined to fly, you are also swept into the flood of technical information and skills necessary for a helicopter pilot. The intelligence and awareness necessary to master flying a helicopter, much less under combat circumstances, is daunting and terrifying. Mason takes you into it, though, as a young man carrying out the duties that he is taught as he tries to learn from his instructors and guides. But as the days ...more
Giordano Makholm
Mar 20, 2018 rated it liked it
A precise chronological depiction of life as a helicopter pilot leading up to and during the Vietnam war. I'll remember passages of extreme violence and gore, and how common these eventually become. Sporadic action but constant fear, and hilarious dark military humor, from kids who had no business being there and only started to understand much later.

I found it unfortunately a bit repetitive: stand-by, pick-up grunts, repeat. Maybe that was the point. A year of flying into hot landing zones mus
Steve Rezabek
May 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Shelves: history, biography
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’
Aug 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Aaron George
Dec 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Monica Mac
Jun 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was a recommended read by a member of my book club and I am glad I took the time to read it, even though it wasn't my usual reading material.

I had long wondered what it was like for those who were in Vietnam and this account, by Robert Mason, a helicopter pilot, gives us a good look at the conditions which the troops over there had to work under, as well as the author's questioning of why they were there and how to tell friend from foe. So many shades of grey. The troops on the ground
Ugo Marsolais
Sep 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
Nicholas Prior
Jul 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Chickenhawk - Robert Mason

This is a raw recounting of his service as a Huey pilot during the Vietnam War.
The book shows the skill & bravery the pilots showed in this new style of warfare.
He also doesn't hide the impact the brutality had on his psyche.

Nathan Mullen
May 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a up close look at the lives of Huey pilots in Vietnam. I have nothing but respect for these pilots and I am constantly fascinated by the missions they pulled off.
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
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
Nov 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
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
Gary Willett
Feb 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Martin Budd
Apr 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
May 01, 2018 rated it liked it
A bit of a slog as all the cliches are here - drink, drugs and prostitutes. It's virtues are a good description of the particular pointlessness of Vietnam, such as repeatedly retaking areas you captured before but didn't hold and detailed accounts of how to fly a helicopter in exceedingly difficult conditions. If I ever do learn to fly a helicopter, I'll reread those bits. Hopefully though this isn't, as the blurb says, the best book to come out of Vietnam.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Low Level Hell: A Scout Pilot In The Big Red One
  • Once A Warrior King: Memories of an Officer in Vietnam
  • Everything We Had: An Oral History of the Vietnam War
  • To the Limit: An Air Cav Huey Pilot in Vietnam
  • Steel My Soldiers' Hearts: The Hopeless to Hardcore Transformation of U.S. Army, 4th Battalion, 39th Infantry, Vietnam
  • The Killing Zone: My Life in the Vietnam War
  • And a Hard Rain Fell
  • Bloods: An Oral History of the Vietnam War by Black Veterans
  • The Ravens: The Men Who Flew In America's Secret War In Laos
  • Ripcord: Screaming Eagles Under Siege, Vietnam 1970
  • A Lonely Kind of War: Forward Air Controller, Vietnam
  • SOG: Secret Wars of America's Commandos in Vietnam
  • Nam: The Vietnam War in the Words of the Men and Women Who Fought There
  • Guns Up!
  • Hell in a Very Small Place: The Siege of Dien Bien Phu
  • The Long Gray Line: The American Journey of West Point's Class of 1966
  • When Thunder Rolled: An F-105 Pilot over North Vietnam
  • Tiger Force: A True Story of Men and War
See similar books…
“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
“She told me her real name but insisted that I call her by an American name. This beautiful and innocent girl on the other side of the world insisted that I call her Sally. It was depressing.” 0 likes
More quotes…