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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A moving story of the Korean War
I have heard the Korean War described as America's "forgotten war," so I was eager to read James Michener's "The Bridges at Toko-Ri." A short novel about United States fighter pilots taking part in the Korean conflict, this book is an entertaining, and often very thoughtful, story of this era.
The plot of the book is driven by a daring plan to...
Published on November 23, 2001 by Michael J. Mazza

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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bridges At Toko-Ri
The Bridges at Toko-Ri is the story of a naval pilot, Harry Brubaker, during the Korean War. He is assigned the very dangerous mission to attack and destroy the bridges at Toko-Ri, a possible turning point in the war. The book follows the events before the bombing. For example, in the beginning of the book, he crashes his plane into the ocean. He also goes to see his...
Published on December 19, 2002


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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A moving story of the Korean War, November 23, 2001
This review is from: The Bridges at Toko-Ri (Mass Market Paperback)
I have heard the Korean War described as America's "forgotten war," so I was eager to read James Michener's "The Bridges at Toko-Ri." A short novel about United States fighter pilots taking part in the Korean conflict, this book is an entertaining, and often very thoughtful, story of this era.
The plot of the book is driven by a daring plan to destroy the strategic bridges of the title. The main characters in the story are George Tarrant, a no-nonsense admiral with a painful personal burden; Mike Forney, a tough and passionate Irish-American enlisted man; and Harry Brubaker, a husband and father who resents being recalled to military service as a pilot.
Michener creates an effective blend of action and personal drama. His narrative is full of interesting, vividly rendered details about life on an aircraft carrier.
Yes, some of the book's characters and situations seem a bit stereotypical; the female characters, in particular, struck me as one-dimensional. But overall this book is an impressive achievement. Michener creates a compelling portrait of men at war. This book deserves a continuing audience; I thank Michener for helping to keep the legacy of Korean War veterans alive with this novel.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Read it in an afternoon, April 28, 2001
This review is from: The Bridges at Toko-Ri (Mass Market Paperback)
This is almost a novella; it can easily be read in an afternoon. I read this after seeing the movie, and it's one of those rare occassions where I like the movie better than the book. The book is still compelling, though. A Navy attack pilot is reluctantly thrust into the Korean War, and seems on the verge of a nervous breakdown. This man wants nothing more than to come home to his wife and kids, all of whom he loves deeply. In case you've never seen it, I highly recommend the 1954 movie with William Holden, Frederic March, Grace Kelly, Mickey Rooney, Earl Holliman. Only minor parts of the story were changed for the movie, otherwise it's very faithful.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clever and Informative, November 10, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Bridges at Toko-Ri (Hardcover)
I read this book voluntarily for a book report as a freshman in high school, and found that I was also able to tie it into a history project. The story really makes it easier to understand the feelings and happenings of the misunderstood Korean War, also called the "forgotten war". I recommend it for anyone who wants to know more about this war or just enjoys action books in general.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A short novel of the Korean War, May 30, 2000
This review is from: The Bridges at Toko-Ri (Mass Market Paperback)
A good but very short novel about the Korean War that was written in 1953. Although short, the novel touches on many issues, the dangers faced by bomber pilots and their courage, the political reasons why were fighting in Korean, the unfairness to those who were chosen to fight, and the ignorance of the American public about the ongoing war.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bridges At Toko-Ri, December 19, 2002
A Kid's Review
This review is from: The Bridges at Toko-Ri (Mass Market Paperback)
The Bridges at Toko-Ri is the story of a naval pilot, Harry Brubaker, during the Korean War. He is assigned the very dangerous mission to attack and destroy the bridges at Toko-Ri, a possible turning point in the war. The book follows the events before the bombing. For example, in the beginning of the book, he crashes his plane into the ocean. He also goes to see his wife in Japan. After meeting his wife, he finds out that no one in America knows about the war. The book goes into great detail of his feelings before the bombing. Will he make it, or will he fail his mission? I guess you will have to read the book to find out.
I thought this book was good but had some very confusing parts. The book kept you in suspense the whole time, with events you would never guess would happen. The author wrote the book to make you feel like you were piloting the plane. The major problem I had with the book was all the military terminology. During flight scenes, I had a hard time understanding some of the information, because the author used a lot of military terminology. Overall, the book is easy to read.
I would definately recommend this book to all people. I would especially recommend it to people who enjoy military history.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Cultural Time Capsule, June 6, 2012
By 
This small novel from Michener is a moving and artistically masterful little book which gives meaning and hope to the bitterness of war. I call it a time capsul becuase it represents a lost American culture. A culture of self sacrifice and honor, tempered with a sort of traditional manly pride and a feminity that has been essentially erased by the passing of time. The charaters are all bight and vivid and very well developed in so few pages. The internal thoughts of the main character are a fasinating interpretation of the human phsycology pushed to the brink by stress and the abstract,but very powerful emotions of love, brotherhood,duty and fear.I very dearly wish that the world I live in was still populated by the same sort of men and women described in this novel, which very accurately reflects its time. I also wish that the red beast these heros are fighting mano a mano ,so to speak, had not slipped in the back door dressed in rainbows and business suits and ruined the fine and blessed society we had in 1953.
May God bless and protect all true patriots and Americas fighting men.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fast Paced Michener, June 19, 2003
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"reedright" (Cape Town, South Africa) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Bridges at Toko-Ri (Mass Market Paperback)
Compared to most of Michener's other large tomes this differs in two immediately noticeable ways. Firstly, it is a very short novel coming in at about 125 pages compared to many that are 1000 pages or more. Secondly it is fast paced compared to many of his other novels.
The worlds of war and of peace, highlighted in the first two chapters are brought together in a poignant and thought provoking manner in the final chapter.
The subject matter is not pleasant, covering as it does a major war situation in Korea and how it impacts upon many people, but it is a thought provoking publication and worthy of a read - the length and pace making it possible for many readers to read it in one day. The story and message though have lingered with me for much longer.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quick but rewarding, June 16, 1998
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This review is from: Bridges at Toko Ri (Turtleback)
Michener's powerful storytelling ability drives this book, although it's merely a fraction of the length of most of his other work. The tale centers on a reluctant Korean War pilot and his relationships with his commanding officer, his fellow soldiers, and his family in the face of impending doom, symbolized by the titular bridges. Over its short space, the story runs the gamut of emotions from despair to fear to exhilaration and back again with a you-are-there intensity. The reader may also gain insight into the camaraderie among soldiers in wartime. This is a very solid quick read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Small novel - Michener's favorite of all his many books, January 3, 2014
This review is from: The Bridges at Toko-Ri (Mass Market Paperback)
On January 22 1952 my father took his Destroyer, the Lowry (DD770) to the Korean War. The Lowry joined TF 77 in February of that year and “served off the east coast of Korea on shore bombardment, plane guard, and screening duty.”

Years later my father met James Michener through a mutual friend. He told Michener that he had command of a destroyer in the North China Sea during the Korean War and thought that "The Bridges at Toko-Ri" was a remarkably true depiction. Michener, my father said, had gotten what it felt like to be in the Navy at that time and place. He then asked if Michener had a favorite of all the books he had written. Michener laughed, "The Bridges at Toko-Ri," was his answer.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Last Stand Battle Story, May 7, 2013
This review is from: The Bridges at Toko-Ri (Mass Market Paperback)
The Korean War Memorial in Washington DC accurately reflects the nature of the Korean War (1950-1953). The memorial shows a group of soldiers passing through. That best reflects the nature of the Korean War. Good men went to fight in a far off, place by just passing through. By no means was the Korean War a conflict that altered the collective mind of society. For the most part, the Korean War is not celebrated in great verse or great prose.

James A. Michener is the exception to this. In this book, Michener tells a straightforward story of a Navy Pilot, Lt Harry Brubaker, called back to active duty to fly close air support in Korea from an aircraft carrier. Brubaker only wants to pass through the war, and he is discontent at being called up to fight. Michener also fleshes out other navy men characters such as Beer Barrel, the paddle waving landing safety officer, and Forney, the green top hat wearing search and rescue pilot.

Brubaker heads out on a mission to knock out the "bridges of Toko-Ri" an obscure span across an obscure gap. He successfully knocks out the bridges. While off-handedly attacking his secondary target, his aircraft is hit by a small bullet and he crashes. When Forney, the rescue pilot brings his helicopter to save Brubaker, he too is shot down. The men die fighting in an obscure irrigation ditch against the North Koreans.

Michener uses the story to successfully coax out the valor of the veterans of the Korean War. Although most are just trying to pass through the Korean War, they still go bravely when called by fate to fight in a last stand battle. They don't pass through.
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The Bridges at Toko-Ri
The Bridges at Toko-Ri by James A. Michener (Mass Market Paperback - September 12, 1984)
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