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Every Man a Tiger (1999)
by Tom Clancy
Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0399144935, Hardcover)This Tom Clancy real-life military thriller is more nuanced than his novels, because its object is not simply to dramatize armed conflict but to relate the life lessons of his source, jet-pilot-turned-Desert-Storm-air-commander General Chuck Horner. Horner is no war cheerleader like General "Buck" Turgidson in Dr. Strangelove. He loathes the arrogance of the backwards, nuke-happy Strategic Air Command and the madly out-of-touch Vietnam War planner Robert McNamara. McNamara confesses his folly in two books, Argument Without End and In Retrospect, but Horner's you-are-there account more vividly demonstrates Vietnam's grim lessons. He flew an F-105 Thunderbird "Thud" fighter in the Wild Weasels, the unit with the highest medals-per-aircrew ratio, knew pilots who were stoned to death by villagers, and realized all the bombing did zero good. "All we really had to do was befriend Ho," says Horner sensibly. "Seems he wasn't part of a monolithic Communist plot, and hated the Chinese more than anything else." Horner is savvy about the screwups, the achievements, and the political maneuvering in and after the Gulf War, as leaders and branches of service battled for PR victories. His idea of a hero is Boomer McBroom's pilot Captain Gentner Drummond, who won a Flying Cross medal for refusing AWACS orders to down a jet that turned out to be a Saudi ally. Horner thinks the interservice and international cooperation in the Gulf War was way better than in Vietnam, but there's ample room for improvement. The action scenes aren't quite as brilliant as those in Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War, but Clancy fans will find plenty to admire. Horner's improbable survival of a 150-m.p.h. near-crash in Libya in 1962 belongs in a Tom Clancy film. --Tim Appelo
(retrieved from Amazon Tue, 19 Apr 2011 07:46:13 -0400)
The story of how the U.S. Air Force, a service damaged by the Vietnam experience, reinvented itself through vision, determination, and hard work, and of how war itself has changed fundamentally in the last decade of this century, not only in the new dominance of air power but in all its aspects.
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