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Flights of Passage: Reflections of a World…

Flights of Passage: Reflections of a World War II Aviator

by Samuel Hynes

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168670,815 (3.81)2
  1. 00
    The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway (napgeorge)
    napgeorge: Two books which show the boredom and horror of war. The only two books I have read which reflect what war felt like for me.

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In his memoir With the Old Breed, Eugene Sledge writes "It’s ironic that the record of our company was so outstanding but that so few individuals were decorated for bravery. Uncommon valor was displayed so often it went largely unnoticed." In that context, it surprised me that Hynes earned two DFC's for his experience of relatively low intensity conflict. Even more disconcerting is that Hynes and his comrades were officers, when they had no command responsibility other than pilot-in-command, and did not conduct themselves with any kind of maturity. Hynes faces this irony head on: This memoir is the opposite of a coming of age story, as the behavior of these young men becomes less and less mature the farther they get from home. I found this book to be an excellent evocation of a certain waiting-for-Godot, waiting-to-grow-up unfinished feeling, with a perfect ending -- flying to nowhere with a stranger just to get flight pay. Hynes's coming-of-age was the realization that despite his war experiences, he was not yet an adult. This is an honest story, universal to anyone who has felt the pressure of wanting to be grown up, and beautifully written.

At the end of my time there, in November, darkness fell so early that it overtook the last flight of the afternoon. It was on one of those late flights that I learned a new thing about flying--that it makes the approach of night different. It was late as I flew back from some practice solo, and the sun was nearly set, but the air was still warm and bright. The flight must have gone well, and I was feeling at ease with the plane and, in spite of the engine's heavy racket, quiet and peaceful. Below me lights began to come on in houses and farms, and everything that was not a light became dark and indistinct, so that the ground was almost like a night sky. But still I flew on in sunlight. The surface of the plane seemed to absorb and hold the light and color of the sunset; brightness surrounded me. It was as though the earth had died, and I alone was left alive. A sense of my own aliveness filled me. I would never die. I would go on flying forever. ( )
  read.to.live | Jan 5, 2016 |
An excellent look at what war is really like. A great nonfiction read to complement "The Cellist of Sarajevo." ( )
  napgeorge | Apr 7, 2013 |
I first heard of this book when I listened to a rebroadcast of a 1989 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation program on what it was like to fly in wartime. Symes was one of the flyers interviewed and the interviewer mentioned his book. After some searching, I found it via inter library loan.
Ironically I was reading Hynes other book about war entitled The Soldiers' Tale when I heard the interview.
I found this book surprisingly unsatisfying. It may be the negative view of women that appears through the book or the way he avoids making any comment on the racism of the South. His descriptions of flying and the various aircraft he flew are well done.
  lamour | May 26, 2012 |
I didn't discover this book until around 2003, I think it was. I'd just read Hynes' other memoir, The Growing Seasons, and wanted to know what happened next. I ordered Flights of Passage and absolutely loved it! I've read it a couple more times since then and even wrote to Sam asking him what happened next? More story, please! He did tell me that he was reactivated briefly by the USMC during the Korean War, but never got to Korea. Said he thinks he may have been the only active duty marine at that time working on a dissertation in English Lit. Sam showed up as one of the principals on Ken Burns' PBS special, The War. His presence and his part of the narration added a special kind of added "class" to the production. He tells me he's been working most recently on a book about aviators from the First World War. Hope he gets it done soon. I know I'll read it. Sam Hynes makes good writing look easy. ( )
1 vote TimBazzett | Apr 30, 2009 |
Candid, elitist(from a commissioned marine flyer) perspective on war in the Pacific. Often reads like the frat house goes to war. Let's drink all night and fly in the morning. His reflections on his crew, never saw them except when flying, never shared a meal and disparaged them with his comment about how they rode in the back, probably reading their comic books. accurately forecast his future role as a professor at Princeton. WW2 in the Pacific was ugly, often boring with moments of terror but it was clearly better to be a marine pilot than a doggie, or a crunchie as they called the ground troops. More personal and realistic counterpoint is Ambrose's book, The Wild Blue, about the men and boys that flew bombers in Europe. ( )
1 vote jamespurcell | May 5, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 087021215X, Hardcover)

Flights of Passage: Reflections of a World War II Aviator, by Hynes, Samuel. 8vo.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:36 -0400)

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