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Chickenhawk Hardcover – Aug 1983


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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Viking Pr (Aug. 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670215821
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670215829
  • Product Dimensions: 50.8 x 50.8 x 50.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (216 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 780,313 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"It will stun readers" (Time)

"Compelling... A hypnotic narrative" (The New York Times)

"Chickenhawk is one bloody, painfully honest and courageous book" (Martin Cruz Smith, author)

"The best book to come out of Vietnam" (John Del Vecchio, author of The 13th Valley) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

Robert Mason's devastating bird's eye-view of the Vietnam war in all its horror --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Mr. K. Papas on 25 Jun. 2003
Format: Paperback
This is the story of how a boy, like so many others before and after him, left his rural home to fight for his country and really didn't and couldn't possibly envisage what horrors lay in store in Vietnam. What makes it more readable is the fact that he clearly is not a trained writer, so we are left with a very lean, stripped-down and hard-hitting narrative. He has a conversational style and you can picture him sitting across a table from you for a couple of hours and telling you what he did and saw in Vietnam. He arrives as a fresh, green Huey chopper pilot recruit, eager to so his bit for Uncle Sam. He leaves scarred, disillusioned and horrified and his life is never the same afterwards. If you've never read about the Vietnam War(I have read more than 30 books about the conflict) before, then start here. He is honest and you do get swept along by the vividness of his story. Highly recommended.
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52 of 53 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 Jun. 2000
Format: Paperback
I first read this book about 15 years ago and was absolutely stunned, both by the story itself, and how it was told.
Robert Mason's writing style is so matter-of-fact that everything rings true, and is superbly entertaining at the same time. The reader feels that he can fly a helicopter himself, so convincing are the descriptions about the training, the flying controls, the night-time formation flying, etc.
If you were a teenager in the 60's (like me), the Vietnam war is usually remembered through the newsreel bulletins of the time, with their footage of B-52 air strikes, burning Vietnamese villages and so on. Robert Mason's book tells the same story of what was (ultimately) a terrible waste of time, money, and, not least, human life. However, this book transports you to Vietnam itself, so vivid are the recollections. Mason's descriptions of the people involved in the conflict, mostly North & South Vietnamese and American, gives a completely authentic insight into their mentality at that time. On the one side, Communists, fanatical in their fight against Colonial/Imperial rule, who built tunnels under the enemy and would walk or cycle into battle, and on the other, the (mostly) Americans, who had the best military technology in the world and could fly anywhere in the country by fast jet, military transport or, more likely, in a Bell Huey helicopter, as flown by Robert Mason, and described so brilliantly in Chickenhawk.
My own first copy of the book, bought so many years ago, was lent to a friend and never returned. It's replacement, now also a few years old, has been read and re-read so often that it is well worn and dog-eared. It's a great book - perhaps it's time I got it off the shelf again!.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By the_bald_man on 27 May 2007
Format: Paperback
First person narrative of combat seems to fall into two courts, the first being self indulgent and blinkered, the other insightful and wide ranging. Mason's book is a vivid, moving and harrowing account of his life as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam, a strange world many miles from home. From his initial delight at being selected to become an Army pilot, through the frustrations of learning to fly, the joy of passing his pilot's course through to his arrival in Vietnam, Mason writes with pathos and honesty.

His rapid disillusionment with the War, the homesickness for his love Patience back in America, the near misses with death, and his descent into a mist of drink and drugs to keep him sane enough to be able to continue working in such a harsh environment and moving and well written. There is a definate edge of sadness about Mason's story, and it is possible to see from his first hand accounts of fighting and military decision making, why Vietnam ended in disaster for the Americans.

If you are looking for an academic study of the War, then this is not the book for you. If you are looking for a blunt, honest and harrowing account of one mans personal experience then you MUST read this book.

There is no attempt to glorify war, indeed Mason makes much of his own ignorance of the realities of combat. This is not meant to a political text either, and there is nothing about the reasons for the war.

In the genre of first person reflective narrative of war, this should become one of the classics, and is up there with the Great War's Old Soldiers Never Die. A truly fascinating read, and one that should be on the book shelf of anyone with an interest in military history.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By C. Starbuck on 31 Oct. 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Not only a must-have for any "Vietnam" book lover, but a great insight into the terror of that war through the eyes of a gifted pilot. An excellent book for any would-be helicopter flyer. Mason's technical expertise in relating the almost-impossible task of learning to fly a helicopter will meet with the firm approval of anyone who has tried this for themselves. He builds the accounts of his training & subsequent missions under heavy fire & ludicrous command descisions into a spell-binding narrative that has you in the co-pilot's seat with him, as his life rockets towards the ultimate tragedy of his own personal breakdown... A book I have read many, many times, with a firm fan-base amongst all I've loaned it to. EXCELLENT! *****
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 8 Dec. 2005
Format: Paperback
I dont share the views of some others on this one.This book Chicken Hawk is one of the best and most vivid accounts in print on War. How romances and dreams start out and how they can be shattered very quickly in a hostile world.How under adverse circumstances experience comes by doing.
This book takes you right to the heart of it.Its compelling and take it from me, like him, i have been in combat 22years ago. He gets the reader to feel his emotions as a young man.
To survive it is not always for the best as is often the case. Every one should read this book, if only to share Roberts love of flying and as a reader to also understand the initial fear and how in war one learns to deal with it so it goes away.
Sadly the outside world prepares no one for the war or even worse for some after. Brilliant book
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