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About the Author

Samuel Hynes is a Woodrow Wilson Professor of Literature Emeritus at Princeton University.
Image credit: photo: David Dobkin

Works by Samuel Hynes

Associated Works

Jude the Obscure (1895) — Introduction, some editions — 10,169 copies
Howards End (1910) — Introduction, some editions — 8,800 copies
The Return of the Soldier (1918) — Introduction, some editions — 1,562 copies
Mr Norris Changes Trains (1935) — Introduction, some editions — 1,057 copies
The Best American Essays 1988 (1988) — Contributor — 98 copies
World War II Memoirs: The Pacific Theater (2021) — Contributor — 41 copies
The War: Stories of Life and Death from World War II (1999) — Contributor — 31 copies
Great Short Works of Thomas Hardy (1967) — Editor — 28 copies
MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History — Summer 1992 (1992) — Author "Verdun and Back: A Pilot's Log" — 19 copies
MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History — Spring 1998 (1998) — Author "The Lusitania is not Torpedoed" — 15 copies


Common Knowledge



I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir, really brought the time period to life for me, even though I was born much later.
Cantsaywhy | 3 other reviews | May 24, 2023 |
"storytelling is a primal need. I think that need encompasses both the teller and the listener. For the teller of a war story, the telling gives disordered experience order and therefore meaning;.... For the listener, the story makes huge and terrible events in history assume human faces and human voices,"

In this book Samuel Hynes uses the letters, memoirs, and diaries merging autobiography, history and literature, to inform us what war was really like for those who actually fought it and how modern warfare has evolved. Hynes focuses on the soldiers of the two world wars and Vietnam, taking the reader to the Somme, the Salerno beachhead, the Egyptian desert, Khe Sanh, a Spitfire over the Channel and a sailor on the Coral Sea: as well as the victims of these wars- the POWs, the survivors of the Nazi death camps and the two atom bombs.

Hynes writes that the prospect of excitement and great danger have always driven young men to volunteer. However, the romance has been considerably diminished as the last century progressed as war became ever more dependent on lethal technology, where men are maimed or killed in shocking numbers without ever seeing an enemy. Often, they returned home disillusioned about the real reasons behind them being there, but many also admitted that they wouldn't have missed it for the world.

In this book Hynes gives a voice to the vast majority of the combatants who are never normally heard from. Hynes has obviously trawled through an awful lot of British and American literature in particular to find his material, but for me has produced a well written piece of prose that felt more novelistic rather than academic. As an ex-serviceman myself, although I hasten to add that I didn't serve during any of these wars, I found this an interesting and thought provoking read that has made me question my own reasons for joining up.
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PilgrimJess | 1 other review | Sep 17, 2022 |
Really good stuff. Wish I knew more about the journalists themselves, but still very good. The VietNam series I thought better primarily because I could relate to it better. Still good! Finished 10 June 2021.
1 vote
untraveller | 2 other reviews | Jul 2, 2021 |
Perceptive, honest, and often very funny, this immensely readable account of a young pilot's rites of passage from an untrained cadet to warweary aviator, from youthful innocence to manhood is certain to become a classic. Fellow World War II flier James Dickey calls it, "a profound human document of a terrible and heroic time".
Samuel Hynes served as a consultant on "The War", directed and produced by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, and appears on camera in several episodes."The War" is a seven-part, 14-hour documentary series that debuts on PBS on Sunday, September 23, 2007.

Sam Hynes was eighteen when he left his Minnesota home for navy flight school in 1943. By the time the war ended he was a veteran Marine pilot, still not quite twenty-one, and had flown more than a hundred missions in the Pacific theater. In this eloquent narrative, by turns dramatic, funny, and elegiac, Hynes recalls those extraordinary years during which he came of age. he makes real the places—the training fields and the liberty towns and the Pacific islands, and the people—the other young pilots, the girls and the young wives, even the enemy pilots. He remembers friendship, and the excitement and tedium of war, the high exhilaration of flying, and the dying. More than a tale of combat, Flight of Passage is a story of one boy's growth to manhood in the turbulent, testing world of war in the air.
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MasseyLibrary | 7 other reviews | Aug 31, 2019 |



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