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Dauntless: Novel of Midway and Guadalcanal Hardcover – May 1, 1992


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The hero of this impressive retro-techno-thriller, too, is an airplane. Douglas Dauntless dive-bombers turned the tide of the Pacific War by sinking four Japanese carriers at Midway, and played a crucial role in the Guadalcanal campaign. Tillman, a veteran writer of air fiction ( Warriors ) and nonfiction ( On Yankee Station ), reconstructs the details of carrier war accurately and convincingly: the ready rooms, the flight deck, the cockpits. The sinking of the Yorktown by a Japanese submarine, and the murder of a U.S. pilot by his captors, stand out as particularly effective episodes. Tillman can create characters as well: maverick Japanese pilot Hiroyoshi Sakuda, Navy ensign Phil Rogers, Marine lieutenant Jim Carpenter and other characters are true to their respective types, and so smoothly integrated with historical figures (Commander Max Leslie, Admiral Chester Nimitz) that it is sometimes difficult to distinguish Tillman's creations from the real people. Rogers' refreshing romance with Honolulu librarian Sallyann Downey follows the amorous conventions of 1940s rather than those of a steamier and more liberated era. And yet Dauntless suffers from trying to do too much in its pages. The novel's many secondary characters, together with its kaleidoscopic shifts from scene to scene, make the story line hard for civilian readers to follow. That reservation aside, Tillman here treats a crucial period of WW II in exciting fashion.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Tillman ( Warriors , Bantam, 1990) introduces pilots Philip Rogers, Marine lieutenant James Carpenter, and scout Hiroyoshi Sakaida on the eve of the Battle of Midway. Then the action shifts to Guadalcanal, where the protagonists again represent their respective branches of the service. Subplots on the fliers' personal lives compare the highly structured social environments of both navies. The story starts in midstream and ends long before any resolution of the war or the characters' lives, but this salami-slice approach captures readers' interest with relentless attention to the details of making war over unforgiving waters. Recommended for public libraries and subject collections.
- Edwin B. Burgess, U.S. Army TRALINET Ctr., Fort Monroe, Va.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 412 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; 1St Edition edition (May 1, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553075284
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553075281
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #772,038 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Barrett Tillman (b. 1948) was born into a NE Oregon ranching family and developed an early interest in aviation history. He learned to fly as a teenager, was first published at age 15, and graduated from the University of Oregon with a journalism degree in 1971. He has worked as a newspaper reporter, book publisher, and magazine editor, but has been self employed all but seven years since graduating from college. Though best known for his histories of US naval aviation, he also has published six novels plus short stories, and has sold a screenplay.

Tillman continues writing nonfiction books and has written more than 550 articles in the US and abroad. He frequently appears as a commentator on TV documentaries in addition to his speaking appearances. The recipient of six writing awards, he lives with his wife in Arizona.

Tillman's web site and blog are found at www.btillman.com.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By cberle@pacificrim.net on January 6, 1998
Format: Hardcover
When I read both "Dauntless" and Barrett Tillman's follow on novel "Hellcat". I could almost smell the distinct odor that permeates a warship. A mixture of lube oil, ozone and red lead paint that I have only smelled aboard US Navy ships. From my vantage point of having spent a large portion of my adult life aboard aircraft carriers, from the mid 60s through 1990, I can say Tillman has captured the feel of the ship. Barrett Tillman has the unique ability to take those tactile and emotional cues and pack them into the pages of the book. There are several excelent books that tell stories of the battles of Coral Sea, Midway and the Eastern Solomons from the historian's point of view, but Tillman tells you what it must have felt like to be there. Tillman knows his subject matter. He restored and flew a WWII Dauntless. He has spent a great amount of time with the men who fought these battles. I suspect that, the reason his books have the feel of being there is that Tillman is an expert at pulling that out of these vets and alowing the rest of us to experiance what they experianced. He transmits the excitement of being in a dangerous situation, and the fear of seeing the thing that might end your own life. He has captured the terible feeling of loss, when you know a friend is gone for ever. The only thing I don't like about "Dauntless" is that it's out of print! I can't see why "Dauntless" isn't still on the shelves. I had to really search for it. When I found it, I found my self saying, "just one more page" at 3AM. Some publisher is missing a good bet here.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By G. Quinn on May 24, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Barrett Tillman is uniquely qualified to write this very exciting and authentic historical novel, which is far above the typical techno-thriller. And the author's comment is correct: the Kirkus Review does totally miss the point - scared but plucky young aviators are not inserted as a stock literary device, but because that's precisely who fought these titanic Pacific clashes. The true life heroism and sacrifice so well depicted is probably just incomprehensible to many "elites" today. Tillman is far more sympathetic in describing his Japanese sailors than most war authors, and is fair to the brave young men on both sides. Most of all, this is a great read - engrossing and informative.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Geoff on February 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I just finished this book. I can't say enough about it. I absolutely loved it. I had a hard time putting it down. My only complaint would be that it couldn't last longer. I suppose that's what the sequel is for, which I just ordered. I enjoyed all of the characters. They were fun and interesting. It was nice to have the Japanese perspective. The book follows a Japanese pilot as one of the main characters, which adds a great touch. The book is extremely detailed and boasts tons of great information about the battle of Midway and Guadalcanal. Reading it can bring you great exciting moments, funny moments, but also very sad ones. All in all, excellent book. I'm looking forward to reading the sequel.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 15, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I picked this book up at a yard sale. I can't believe I hadn't heard of it before, but suffice to say, it was a page turner. It chronicles the exploits of a young dive bomber pilot, from the beginning of WWII to the Guadalcanal campaign.
I loved it so much, I ordered the sequel directly from Amazon.
Mr. Tillman, where is the third book?
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By Ramius on May 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very well written, full of authentic detail from the author's experience flying the Dauntless as a young boy.
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