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Air America: The Story of the CIA'S Secret Airlines Hardcover – 1979

22 customer reviews

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About the Author

Christopher Robbins is a well-known journalist who has written for THE DAILY TELEGRAPH, THE OBSERVER, THE INDEPENDENT, THE TIMES and THE SUNDAY TIMES. He lives in London. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 323 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam; 1st edition (1979)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399122079
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399122071
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #402,748 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Herman Reede on April 26, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Found this book in a Bangkok airport taxfree shop , bought it , started reading it and finished it within 2 days.
A great view inside the secret air operations in SE Asia during the 60's / 70's. Furthermore other info about the years before and after the Vietnam war.
Would like to read more about this subject. Would like to see more photo's from this era.
Great writing style by Mr.Robbins.
One of my top 3 books !
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By S. G Spires on July 26, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book sparked a small controversy when it was released in 1979 because it was one of the first to take a serious look at America's "secret" war in Laos and Cambodia.
Robbins did a fine job by interviewing pilots and showing what it was like to fly, fight and survive what many thought was a backwater to the Vietnam war. I thought he was very fair to the men who fought there.
Catch his other book, if you like this one, "The Ravens." Released almost a decade later, in 1987, "The Ravens" tells the story of secret Forward Air Controllers, or FACs, who controlled air strikes during the Vietnam War. Robbins got even better stories for "The Ravens." Both books are kind of hard to find though. You have to buy them used.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Kristin Ostrom on April 18, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Don't let the fact that Mel Gibson and Robert Downey, Jr. are on the cover of this book (to promote their movie "Air America") fool you!

Once you read the book, you will quickly find that the movie and the book really only share a title. In fact, if I were Christopher Robbins, I would have taken the money that Hollywood paid me for the film rights, refinanced the "100-acre wood," and gone off to live with Tigger and Pooh! (Ok, I know. They are not the same people.) I would then divorce my name from any association with the B-grade film that utterly and completely failed to tell the story of these brave Americans who helped support the U.S. war efforts in Southeast Asia.

Aside from the arguably inaccurate chapter dealing with Air America's trafficking of opium, Robbins' research was well received by both former Air America personnel, and eventually, the CIA. I would recommend this book to any aviation/history enthusiast who enjoys reading about the exploits of paramilitary aviation operations.

The book is definitely worth reading . . . just put a bunch of masking tape on the cover. That way you won't be embarrassed if someone on the subway sees you reading it!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By "BugSmasher" on August 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It really is amazing at the number of people that don't believe Air America even existed or for that matter the secret war. Ever since Mel Gibson hit the big screen with the movie I've heard comments such as a fictional movie , yeah a great piece of fiction. Sure the movie was fiction to a great extent but that's Hollywood. I think Christopher did a pretty fair job of getting the reality of this group of people out there to the public with this book. The history of the airline before, during & after their Laos, Vietnam operations. A lot of us in certain age groups can well remember the President stating to the public that Laos was out of bounds, etc, etc. Really ? A lot of really talented airman or pilots were lost & a lot pulled off some pretty mean feats flying into jungle air strips while being shot at etc. Unfortunately the public is probably never going to hear or read of a lot of the heroics these pilots initiated all in a day's work. A fine read, interviewing a lot of the boys giving the reader a sense of reality of just what these men faced. Sure the money was a big part of it but it really it took a special sort of person craving adventure , challenges , in some cases lunacy ! Lunacy ? What would you call flying in bad weather while being shot at , feeling the strikes on the A/C while trying to find a way out? Just a small sample of what these guys experienced. THANKS to CHRISTOPHER for getting a little of the history of AIR AMERICA out there. If you can find this book it's well worth the read. I feel it's really a shame that the exploits of Air America & their crews have been swept under the carpet but at least Christopher has given the public a dose of history on a very big operation!
DEFINITELY FIVE STARS.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By MD Ely on January 13, 2012
Format: Paperback
I read this book in 1985 and it took me three months and two reads to take it all in. I re-read it last year and it is still mind boggling how much information is presented here. The is the oiginal and so far best written work I've seen on the subject.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I like Christopher Robbins' style of journalism in writing about Vietnam, but there is much more to be told about those who were the real HEROES of this war! Many brave men laid their lives down, without hesitation, for this humanitarian effort that was never recognized by the US government. Those who lived through it and returned home had to live with the haunting memories of war and unfinished business. Then, treated as the enemy for going there ... as if they had a choice! When you're in the military you go where they send you. Air America was owned and operated by the CIA for special operations in Vietnam. Little was known about what they did or their being there for over 10 years: to rescue others when downed behind enemy lines and train locals how to fight. These men were brave intelligent souls, who bonded through extreme situations of inhuman Communistic treatment to those who could not help themselves. They lived in-the-moment, so they could survive one day at a time putting their lives at risk and knowing they may not return when they flew on a mission. We and the south Vietnam people, who lived peaceful lives until invasion by the Communist, owe them so much for their brave actions. When they were told to pull out, there was a complete collapse of their homeland, displacing those left behind. Some escaped to America - the scene of them on the cover is a haunting memory. Others escaped to Cambodia and Thailand, while many became prisoners of war to communism or died in concentration camps. The movie by the same name, didn't begin to cover the realism behind Air America, and made it appear altogether different than a true story and account of the war that went on there. It took licenses of Hollywood and left out the underlying truth about the reason we were there. Don't compare the two.
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