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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful book
Geoff Dyer is one of the greatest of contemporary writers and this is perhaps his best book. It takes us on a tour of the USS George Bush, the world's largest aircraft carrier and a concentration of the American sense of duty, militarism, evangelical christianity and bad food - all things to which Dyer is opposed. But Dyer falls in love with the ship and its crew and...
Published 2 months ago by Purple Ink

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1.0 out of 5 stars A travesty
Can one loathe someone just from reading his or her work? Such revulsion for another human based on mental processes and attitudes, as revealed by his or her writing, happened to me reading GREAT DAY. This is, I admit, a profound character defect on my part for which I apologize, but there it is. I'm sure some people feel the same about me, and so be it.

The...
Published 2 days ago by John Joss


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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful book, 29 May 2014
This review is from: Another Great Day At Sea: On Board the USS George Bush (Writers in Residence) (Paperback)
Geoff Dyer is one of the greatest of contemporary writers and this is perhaps his best book. It takes us on a tour of the USS George Bush, the world's largest aircraft carrier and a concentration of the American sense of duty, militarism, evangelical christianity and bad food - all things to which Dyer is opposed. But Dyer falls in love with the ship and its crew and comments on it in a way which is consistently wry, complex, funny and deep. You don't have to be interested in the navy to love this book, all you need is to like intelligence and great writing. The ebook is modestly priced for a reason - it doesn't have the full set of pictures which makes this book absolutely sublime. So it's worth shelling out for the full sum, which is a little too high nevertheless...
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1.0 out of 5 stars A travesty, 18 Aug 2014
By 
John Joss (Los Altos, CA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Another Great Day At Sea: On Board the USS George Bush (Writers in Residence) (Paperback)
Can one loathe someone just from reading his or her work? Such revulsion for another human based on mental processes and attitudes, as revealed by his or her writing, happened to me reading GREAT DAY. This is, I admit, a profound character defect on my part for which I apologize, but there it is. I'm sure some people feel the same about me, and so be it.

The NEW YORKER excerpt, with its many technical errors and its tone-deaf and apparently willful failure to do research that would have enabled the author's basic understanding of the subject, started me down the road to antipathy. Reading the reviews by others confirmed this core problem. I decided not to buy the book or reward the author in any way, but then a friend sent a copy and I read it with great reluctance. In retrospect, I wish I had merely burned it.

The technical errors, deep and crisp and even, have been discussed by other reviewers (one oft-repeated and egregious example: the author's "F-18" is actually an F/A-18 and the distinction is important--`F' designates a fighter, but the F/A-18 is both a fighter and an attack (`A') aircraft. Billions were spent on this blend and it takes immense training effort for pilots to handle both tasks. To mention this technical defect barely scratches the surface of the author's ignorance.

What other reviewers did not describe adequately, which instilled my loathing and contempt, was the writer's style and tone. There are categories of Englishmen (I am English) that embody characteristics other Englishmen find intolerable. The author covers all the loathable bases magnificently: an arrogant, know-it-all mental posture in which he looks down on others from the lofty heights of his intellectual superiority, his endlessly self-serving and self-referential writing, his disrespectful references to his accompanying photographer (termed derisively and repeatedly by him as "the snapper," as if photography were some silly hobby and the man merely his servant), his sneering dismissal of a religious speaker in the ship's chapel, his unnecessary `prolier than thou' sliming of the British class system, his staggeringly persnickety attitude about food and his relentless demands for a personal cabin, his attempts to borrow WWII Battle of Britain pilot heroism (he was born in 1958), his recounting a scene from a WWII film about a British battleship that ignored the definitive US carrier film, "The Bridges at Toko-Ri," his disdainful characterization of the dedication of the commanding officer and his peers (in context, the book title comes across as ironic, even sarcastic), his failure even to acknowledge the challenge of carrier aviation (especially night traps) performed daily by young men and women pilots . . . the list of his attitudinal and literary transgressions is too long to recount here. As for his comment about it being `difficult to fall overboard' (unless blown by a jet blast) Dyer should have paid attention. Loss of an unpopular, too-strict superior is Navy history and a great controller of seaman sadists who understand the risk. But he gets so much so wrong so often, typically framed in a lame joke, that the mind reels. Stop me before I vomit.

Dyer should have gone aboard a nuclear submarine for a 90-day combat cruise, instead of his mere 14 days aboard the George H.W. Bush. If he hated a US aircraft carrier so much, and considered it so far below him, maybe the boomer (British or American--he wouldn't even bother to understand the word) might have made an even longer and deeper impression (though he would never have researched the subject ahead of time and might have thought that a publisher was stroking his immeasurably huge ego).

Dyer is a Very Important Contemporary British Writer (if you don't believe me, ask him) so this critical review will flow off him like water off the proverbial duck's back. He is indeed a somewhat competent writer of English. The real tragedy is that he had a fascinating opportunity to reveal the interior of one of the most interesting and important phenomena--the US aircraft carrier and its role in world affairs--but snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

And if you want to read about military aviation--Dyer barely touches on the flying stuff, though it's the core mission of the modern aircraft carrier--try Richard Bach's first book, Stranger to the Ground, a selfless piece of first-person revelation that makes Dyer's work look like the chicken-scratchings of a beginner.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great Geoff Dyer book, 11 July 2014
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This review is from: Another Great Day At Sea: On Board the USS George Bush (Writers in Residence) (Paperback)
Recommended for all not just plane fans.
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5.0 out of 5 stars All aboard!, 28 July 2014
By 
Michael, Winchester UK (Hampshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
By reading this book I learnt a lot about what it is like to live on board a US aircraft carrier, and also about what it is like on board Geoff Dyer...or at least the version of Geoff Dyer he presents through these pages. In places it is very funny because Dyer is frank about the less admirable personal preoccupations and desires that many of would also admit to, if forced.

I would add that your local library may have this book, so try there first. The pictures in the book are very good so the printed copy is preferable to the e-reader version.

The most enjoyable and illuminating book I have read since 1922 Constellation of Genius, last summer.
Constellation of Genius: 1922: Modernism and All That Jazz
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, 13 Jun 2014
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I love this book. Two weeks onboard ship with the angular, sharp-elbowed Geoff Dyer - he is terrific, intelligent company, and he's absolutely besotted by the boat.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A dazzling piece of writing, 12 Jun 2014
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Quirky, funny, instructive, provides a real insight into life on a USA aircraft carrier - and into the author, a genuinely eccentric traveller.
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4.0 out of 5 stars You can almost taste the salt in the air (and the fuel from the 'planes!), 19 Aug 2014
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This was a hugely interesting read - enjoyed it very much and certainly gave the 'flavour' of working and living on board a large ocean going war ship.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Vivid picture of life at sea, 17 July 2014
By 
J. A. Findlay (Cambridge UK) - See all my reviews
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Wonderful picture of life at sea by a modest entertainign writer
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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Another rubbish pen pusher goes to sea, 5 Jun 2014
By 
R. W. Polkinghorne (Dursley, Glos United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This is the very worst book I have ever read about life aboard a Navel Vessel of any Nationality. It is juvenile, patronising and every thing is about the 'me me me' of the author, and nothing about the subject he is there to write about. The author can never remember the names of people interviewed, ( but goes into great detail about his own Attention Disorder problems ( who gives a flying fig.?) Every chapter comes across as a teenage diary that is definitely Grade F. I'm embarrassed to think what any of the crew aboard thought if they bothered to read his book. He makes you embarrassed to be British !!!
For instance, a RAS ( Replenishment at Sea ) is one of the most difficult, skilful and dangerous evolutions carried out in peacetime between two Navy ships. There could have been a whole chapter there explaining how it is achieved from a "decent " writer. He barely acknowledges it in two sentences. The man is blind.. all the way through, he is not interviewing people he meets, he is trying at every turn to prove how "high brow" he is by throwing in silly literary quotations, a,sort of "look at me, I've read lots of books" bragging that does nothing to enhance the reading.
It's not quite the same era, but a far better book , written by an English sailor on our current equivalent of aircraft carriers , is '" Totally Steaming" A year on HMS Fearless', by Damon Hammond with some excellent witty cartoons by 'Tez' whom I assume is co writer Terry McCormack. Different Navy and different level of modernisation admitted, but somehow I feel the latter is a better, deeper understanding of life afloat in the armed service,for no other reason that Hanmond has no need to dream up literary cloches, he lives the business, day on day for better or worse, and frankly is surprisingly an astute, well read scholar, masquerading,as,a chief grease monkey on a clapped out ship. God bless "real" authors like him I say. Geoff Dyer need to go elsewhere and pedal his unattractive,, superior than thou, and I can't be assed to do the basics like have a working pen or Biro with me excuse for just plain bad, boring work. f- in my opinion, no stars.
If anyone is interested in a life afloat in our UK services, make sure you read McCormack not Dyer. The former covers the same subjects as Dyer, but because he is an old hand, possibly the last ever Boiler Trained artificer,or Marine Officer, in modern parlance, he has a unique view on life at sea in the modern navy verses how it used to be. He too has seen the integration of women on board, and approves, but has a different take completely on the outcomes of that decision than Dyer ever pontificates about. Similarly with events necessitating discipline actions on board boats, and to course being British, the ubiquitously famous alcohol fuelled run ashore. No iced tea and fizzy coke parties for us.
Dyer does briefly come to brilliance once however in encapsulating a huge difference in our two nation fleets. The pity of it is, and it highlights my points, that the whole thing is a verbatim copy of a speech given on the flight deck by a sailor being promoted. After the promotion ceremony, witnessed by a dozen or so of his peers, this man gives the most evocative acceptance each that high lights two things. The first is that it is better by far than anything Dyer could have scripted, and that it illustrated how the concept of service to your country, and to your fellow man os enunciated by an American senior rating in a speech neither Dyer,( for all his supposing study of the best of the English Literature(, or for that mater any comparable English junior Oficer could ever dream of.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A really easy read but ..., 5 Jun 2014
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This is a book about people; people in a large but confined space. For those who have visited Americans in their home country, it will come as no surprise as to how friendly and welcoming they are. Their friendliness and high hospitality to Geoff Dyer shine through the book.
How accurate it is as to life and work aboard a US carrier I cannot say but minor errors on more general topics, such as calling the Mohne dam the Mona dam, leave me wondering.
What I found missing was any question as to the purpose of this massive machine of war. Overall, it reads extremely easily, but then it is a light-weight subject: a closed community of friendly people.
Finally, one other caveat. There are lots of us captioned photographs. I would really have liked to have known what they of; only rarely was that obvious.
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