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The Hunters: A Novel Paperback – July 27, 1999

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 233 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1st Vintage International ed edition (July 27, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375703926
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375703928
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (115 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #102,363 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Salter's 1956 fighter pilot novel stands out as a literary endeavor in a genre dominated by cheap adventure yarns. Salter goes beyond the usual gung-ho fighter jock glitz to present the story of Capt. Cleve Connell, whose intentions of becoming an ace are thwarted by enemy pilots with plans of their own.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.


"The contemporary writer most admired and envied by other writers. . . . He can . . . break your heart with a sentence."  
--Washington Post Book World

"Anyone under forty may not appreciate how profoundly Salter influenced my generation. [He] created the finest work ever to appear in print--ever--about men who fly and fight."   --Robert F. Dorr, author of F-86 Sabre

Darkly romantic. . .beautifully composed. . .a brilliant war novel." --Chicago Tribune

Customer Reviews

Succinct, beautiful clear prose.
Alain C. Dewitt
The story is about one man's, Captain Cleve Saville's, arrival and tour of combat duty at a bleak Air Force fighter base in Korea.
T.M. Reader
I enjoyed it so much that when I finished the book, I went back to the first page and started reading it again.
Tony Barclay

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Wayne Ralph on April 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
I am re-reading The Hunters by James Salter for about the fourth or fifth time, and continue to be amazed at its density and subtlety, and the truth of its story. Almost nothing in the history of air warfare has been written that compares with it for quality or maturity. It is the best psychological profile on the character of the fighter pilot and especially the mammoth ego of the fighter ace, ie, one who can claim 5 or more victories in aerial combat. Readers may want to compare The Hunters with Salter's more recent memoir Burning The Days, since the latter book includes the non-fiction story of Salter's own F-86 Sabre tour in Korea in an equally evocative way, but written more than 40 years after the event. The Hunters is an essential read for anyone interested in the history of air warfare, the Korean War, and the personality of the fighter pilot. It is an excellent work of high literary standards, that foreshadowed the achievements of Salter's non-aviation books that came later.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Ronald Scheer on September 28, 2002
Format: Paperback
Much has already been said here about the precision of Salter's crisp, clean style. It's Hemingway over ice with a splash of bitters. If you love language, you will read every word. Much also has been said about this book as an accurate portrayal of flying and a great novel of warfare.
What I would add to all that is how "The Hunters" is a fascinating account of the dynamics within a group of highly trained men who engage in a high-risk occupation. The central character Cleve begins the novel as a well respected flyer, a cut above the rest, and admired by the less experienced men around him. Fiercely independent and reserved, he has a somewhat aloof personal style that makes him all the more respected and even idolized.
Enter a younger, hotshot flyer, brash and egotistical, the opposite of Cleve in every respect -- and, we are led to believe, somewhat less than honorable -- who quickly establishes himself as an equal to Cleve, determined to be seen by the commanding officers as superior. The rest of the novel is a psychological study of "grace under pressure" and the eventual failure of Cleve to maintain his position in this hierarchy of men, where the respect of others is the reason for being.
This drama of the individual against a closed social order that first praises and then abandons him is compelling from beginning to end. I recommend the book not only to readers looking for well-written accounts of air warfare. Its nuanced portrayal of the shifting dynamics among men in an all-male setting makes it excellent material for gender studies, as well. For another Salter book that picks up some of these same themes and writes about them just as eloquently, read his novel "Solo Faces."
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By R. Albin TOP 500 REVIEWER on December 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
This was the first of several excellent novels (Solo Faces, Light Years, A Sport and A Pastime) by this author. Based on his own experience as a fighter pilot in Korea, The Hunters is the story of an American pilot who wishes to become an ace. Written in direct, deceptively simple, and precise language, The Hunters is an examination of the demands of wartime viewed through the prism of this relatively solitary pursuit. Salter conveys the experience of the Korean war and dog-fighting beautifully. Unlike most war novels, this book is a psychological novel preoccupied primarily with moral issues. The key questions are what is the appropriate way to live, and its obverse question, what is the appropriate way to die? This is the type of novel that Hemingway tried to write in For Whom The Bell Tolls. Where Hemingway failed, Salter succeeds. This deceptively modest book is much better than most of the serious American literature published over the last 50 years.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 9, 1997
Format: Hardcover
The Hunters , James Salter's first novel, just reissued in revised edition by Counterpoint Press, is arguably the best aviation war novel ever written. It is also noteworthy as an historical document of the cold war which will be instructive to many modern readers. Although it presents the fighter pilots of its day in full swashbuckle, the novel's intense drama comes from the internal tension of individuals reacting to strange and hostile environments and events. Yet it is a very good read.
The Hunters is a first-rate novel about a war written by a warrior. If Hemingway and Stephen Crane became famous by writing about war, neither logged any real time as warriors. James Salter, on the other hand, actually talked the talk, walked the walk, and lived the life of the jet fighter pilot in combat when even the name, jet fighter, was itself new.
Salter knew and flew with some of the major Aces of his day as well as other pilots who would achieve international fame later such as future Astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Virgil Grissom. So it is important for the reader to remember that James Salter not only wrote of those who had the right stuff, he had it himself. He was still flying jets when he wrote The Hunters.. Its successful publication made it possible for him to give up his Air Force career to become a full-time writer.The Hunters explores how it was to fight the first of our string of bureaucratized wars emerging from the Cold War. Although the Korean War (1950-1954) was euphemisticallly named a Conflict, for the American fighter pilots there, outnumbered six to one by the enemy, it was a very real war.
The novel begins with Captain Cleve Connell's assignment to the preeminent F-86 interceptor wing of the Korean War to fly the required hundred missions.
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