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Such Men as These: The Story of the Navy Pilots Who Flew the Deadly Skies Over Korea

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In 1951, James Michener went to Korea to report on a little known aspect of America’s stalemated war: naval aviators. His research inspired a novel about these pilots and became an overnight bestseller and, perhaps, the most widely-read book ever written about aerial combat. Using Michener’s notes, author David Sears tracked down the pilots to tell their riveting, true-lif In 1951, James Michener went to Korea to report on a little known aspect of America’s stalemated war: naval aviators. His research inspired a novel about these pilots and became an overnight bestseller and, perhaps, the most widely-read book ever written about aerial combat. Using Michener’s notes, author David Sears tracked down the pilots to tell their riveting, true-life stories. From the icy windswept decks of aircraft carriers, they penetrated treacherous mountain terrain to strike heavily defended dams, bridges, and tunnels, where well entrenched Communist anti-aircraft gunners waited to shoot them down. Many of these men became air combat legends, and one, Neil Armstrong, the first astronaut to walk on the moon. Such Men As These brims with action-packed accounts of combat and unforgettable portraits of the pilots whose skill and sacrifice made epic history.


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In 1951, James Michener went to Korea to report on a little known aspect of America’s stalemated war: naval aviators. His research inspired a novel about these pilots and became an overnight bestseller and, perhaps, the most widely-read book ever written about aerial combat. Using Michener’s notes, author David Sears tracked down the pilots to tell their riveting, true-lif In 1951, James Michener went to Korea to report on a little known aspect of America’s stalemated war: naval aviators. His research inspired a novel about these pilots and became an overnight bestseller and, perhaps, the most widely-read book ever written about aerial combat. Using Michener’s notes, author David Sears tracked down the pilots to tell their riveting, true-life stories. From the icy windswept decks of aircraft carriers, they penetrated treacherous mountain terrain to strike heavily defended dams, bridges, and tunnels, where well entrenched Communist anti-aircraft gunners waited to shoot them down. Many of these men became air combat legends, and one, Neil Armstrong, the first astronaut to walk on the moon. Such Men As These brims with action-packed accounts of combat and unforgettable portraits of the pilots whose skill and sacrifice made epic history.

30 review for Such Men as These: The Story of the Navy Pilots Who Flew the Deadly Skies Over Korea

  1. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    I have long since been intrigued by James Michener's Bridges at Toko-Ri and the novella and movie are on a perennial all time favorites list. The quote "Where do we get such men as these" being the defining quote and favorite from both the book and movie. It is proactive and thought provoking quote in that where do we get such individuals and is the pool able to be replenished. David Sears' Such Men as These does a very good job at answering where we get such individuals, from New Bedford Massac I have long since been intrigued by James Michener's Bridges at Toko-Ri and the novella and movie are on a perennial all time favorites list. The quote "Where do we get such men as these" being the defining quote and favorite from both the book and movie. It is proactive and thought provoking quote in that where do we get such individuals and is the pool able to be replenished. David Sears' Such Men as These does a very good job at answering where we get such individuals, from New Bedford Massachusetts, farms in Oklahoma, Pittsburgh, and a hardscrabble farm in Texas. He leaves the last question to the reader to decide. The argument that each generation will have individuals like Jesse Brown the first African American Naval Aviator or Joe Akagi the first Japanese American that will stand up and show us that what they consider themselves first and foremost are Americans seems to be a strong argument if we can keep the pool replenished. The book Such Men as These is a popular history that puts a face on the men and possible inspirations for Michener's unforgettable characters in what Michener called "his best writing” Sears put faces on these inspirations and is able to weave their stories into a narrative of their contributions to Naval Aviation during the Korean War. Some of the stories are well known such as Thomas Hudner's abortive rescue of Jesse Brown others such as Duane Thorin's experience as a Naval Aviation Pilot (an enlisted Naval Aviator) who was the inspiration for Mike Forney and his exploits as a helicopter pilot doing SAR (Search and Rescue)work to an ill advised behind the lines rescue attempt. Sears writing style is flowing and compelling and I found myself reading fifty pages at a sitting and unaware of the time. Because it is a popular history Sears was able to write in a freer style which is a benefit to his topic. It allows for Joe Akagi, Jesse Brown, Duane Thorin, Neil Armstrong (yes that Neil Armstrong and at one point in the book his wingman was no other than Scott Carpenter another future NASA astronaut) and Harry Ettinger to name a few to come to life for the reader and allows the reader a glimpse into their shared and individual Korean War experience.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    Well Written Excellent tome on the life of carrier based pilots during the Korean conflict. His use of naval nomenclature on aircraft types and squadron ID’s was somewhat tiring almost similar to speed bumps in a road. Curtailed smooth reading. Otherwise well researched and described. Very worthwhile.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Darrell Paul

    This would have been 5 stars from me if it weren't for the too-rapid jumping between different pilots that occurs about 2/3 of the way through the book. Especially when two of the pilots have similar names (Ettinger and Edinger). Still, for a look at the air war in Korea that isn't the usual focus on MiG Alley, this is excellent. This would have been 5 stars from me if it weren't for the too-rapid jumping between different pilots that occurs about 2/3 of the way through the book. Especially when two of the pilots have similar names (Ettinger and Edinger). Still, for a look at the air war in Korea that isn't the usual focus on MiG Alley, this is excellent.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Blake Walker

    Interesting book on US Naval aviators during the Korean War. I now understand where Mitchener got the idea for The Bridges at Toko-Ri.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kenneth Flusche

    A Good Read

  6. 4 out of 5

    Charles H Berlemann Jr

    The men who made up the characters that were in "The bridges of Toko-ri" This was a really great book that covered an interesting bit of history, which is why it should be 3.5 and maybe pushing 3.9 on the star rating system. There are a few downers, first is the huge cast of people the author introduces, which you lose track of who is who after the author spent some chapters development on their background. While a couple of folks mentioned in the opening, some famous aviators and astronauts get The men who made up the characters that were in "The bridges of Toko-ri" This was a really great book that covered an interesting bit of history, which is why it should be 3.5 and maybe pushing 3.9 on the star rating system. There are a few downers, first is the huge cast of people the author introduces, which you lose track of who is who after the author spent some chapters development on their background. While a couple of folks mentioned in the opening, some famous aviators and astronauts get passing mentions later in the book. Then the biggest fault is the lack of maps. The mention of towns, airfields and operating areas were prolific in the book; but without good maps you could be anywhere when the stories of pilot rescue or survival were mentioned. No frame of reference as to how dangerous an aircraft that has seconds to stay aloft is when the description of a town could place you over Trenton on the way to Philadelphia or deep over the mountains and the nearest civilization is a week hike south. So the lack of maps really frustrated me in reading this book. Finally, what kept it from being a four star was the typos. From names being misspelled in one paragraph and spelt right the next down to some designation of aircraft or units that were done right and wrong multiple times on the same page. That said this is a good book that tries to humanize the air war over Korea from the men who flew off the USN carriers. Most of them were reservists who either just missed being in WW2 or had served and when the post WW2 drawdown occurred wanted to keep flying but couldn't on active duty. If you are a history buff and have read anything of Naval Aviation after WW2 then some of these stories you have heard. From the Jesse L. Brown story and his wingman Tom Hudner who crash lands in the same mountains to save the first black aviator, to the use of torpedoes against a dam that the Chinese controlled, to the attempts to bomb the rail and roads and starve the Communist armies. Intermixed in these stories is the arrival of Michener an author of note who was working as a newspaper correspondent and spent almost a year on the Navy carriers getting stories. Some of which would form the bones of the novel Michener would later write. Also, mixed in this was the history of the Korean War. It's a good book if only to make more readable and accessible some of the stories that history buffs and drier history tomes have told of the U.S. Na y and it's Naval Aviators over the skies of Korea. This book ready humanized those folks stuck with both jets and props as the planes they would fly in those skies.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Zack Miller

    Overall, this was definitely a good book that I recommend. It provides insight into the war no one remembers. Once again, we see how the U.S. was unprepared after demobilizing subsequent to WWII and the consequences of such. A nasty war, restricted to an isolated peninsula, with a military patched together with remnants. It was a revelation to learn how many of the participants were WWII vets reactivated, but now significantly older, a consequence of the lack of readiness. Of course Ted Williams w Overall, this was definitely a good book that I recommend. It provides insight into the war no one remembers. Once again, we see how the U.S. was unprepared after demobilizing subsequent to WWII and the consequences of such. A nasty war, restricted to an isolated peninsula, with a military patched together with remnants. It was a revelation to learn how many of the participants were WWII vets reactivated, but now significantly older, a consequence of the lack of readiness. Of course Ted Williams was recalled for a second time. Even Richard Hornberger (the author of M*A*S*H) was supposed to have served during WWII, but instead served in Korea. The war represents the link between WWII and Vietnam. Although the book is a collection of stories about different participants, the author frequently jumps back and forth between events in a pattern that makes no sense. This does interrupt the flow of the book. Regardless, the content makes it all worthwhile.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sean

    I liked this book- but to my somewhat dismay, when I checked some of the references for more detail- well, some parts of this book are, shall we say, very, very closely worded to how the original articles/stories were. So, the stories and information is great, but many of them are someone else's work. I liked this book- but to my somewhat dismay, when I checked some of the references for more detail- well, some parts of this book are, shall we say, very, very closely worded to how the original articles/stories were. So, the stories and information is great, but many of them are someone else's work.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tracy

    Amazing to think that these pilots fought in terrible conditions without modern aircraft or communications. I read the book in honor of my dear friend, pilot Ray Edinger, who passed away last week. He gave me a special insert to the book which included personal diary entries of some events. It's even more amazing that he lived to be 97. Amazing to think that these pilots fought in terrible conditions without modern aircraft or communications. I read the book in honor of my dear friend, pilot Ray Edinger, who passed away last week. He gave me a special insert to the book which included personal diary entries of some events. It's even more amazing that he lived to be 97.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Len Roberto

    a terrific look at the Navy pilots of the Korean War- told with a reverent writing style, pay close attention to the story of Thomas Hudner- a Medal of Honor recipient - and a truly heroic pilot. One of the best I have read on the Korean War.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Andy Anderson

    good on pilots during the Korean War.... What a sacrifice for us and the Korean nation...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Parnell

    Quiet good, a little too much minute detail for my taste.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Terry Lyle

    Some great insight into what my father experienced in Korea.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lee

    I stayed up to finish this one, it was that interesting. Having been a fan of the movies inspired by the Michener works, once I saw this one at the library, it was a must-read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    see our review: http://www.relaxedfitezine.com/lifest... see our review: http://www.relaxedfitezine.com/lifest...

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    Good read and would make a great gift.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Dave Latta

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tom Herrold

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Kuehler

  20. 5 out of 5

    Clyde B Loan

  21. 4 out of 5

    Matt

  22. 5 out of 5

    Tommy Edwards

  23. 5 out of 5

    John

  24. 4 out of 5

    Matt Bunn

  25. 5 out of 5

    Adeel Choudary

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kges1901

  27. 4 out of 5

    Guy Smalt

  28. 4 out of 5

    Joanne

  29. 4 out of 5

    Gregory Marquardt

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Cherpeski

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