The Nightingale's Song and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
  • List Price: $17.00
  • Save: $3.56 (21%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
In Stock.
Ships from and sold by
Gift-wrap available.
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Used: Acceptable | Details
Condition: Used: Acceptable
Comment: Fast Shipping - Safe and Secure Bubble Mailer!
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

The Nightingale's Song Paperback – September 11, 1996

See all 15 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
$3.94 $0.01
Unknown Binding
"Please retry"

Frequently Bought Together

The Nightingale's Song + Blue-Eyed Boy: A Memoir
Price for both: $33.61

Buy the selected items together

Best Books of the Year
Best Books of 2014
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for 2014's Best Books of the Year in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; Touchstone ed edition (September 11, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684826739
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684826738
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.3 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (91 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #86,200 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Looking at the lives and careers of five Naval Academy graduates?among them John Poindexter and Oliver North?fellow alumnus Timberg probes the connections between the legacy of the Vietnam war and the Iran-Contra scandal.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Overtly the life stories of five graduates of the U.S. Naval Academy--John McCain, John Poindexter, Bud McFarlane, Jim Webb, and Oliver North--this probing tale implicitly examines the academy's institutional soul. A survivor of Annapolis, abbreviated by cognoscenti as IHTFP (I Hate This F . . . ing Place), Timberg knowingly examines how the academy indoctrinated undergraduates in the '50s and '60s. All five men saluted and went to Vietnam--three were wounded--and in Timberg's telling of their specific combat experiences, insightful angles on their subsequent careers emerge, such as North's penchant for exaggeration. When the Iran-Contra affair broke, its Watergate motif gradually became displaced by the old passions surrounding Vietnam, which, as Timberg writes, cropped up in the actions and justifications of Reagan's national security advisers McFarlane and Poindexter and their aide North. In the meantime ex-POW McCain had gotten himself elected to Congress, and Webb became a novelist, secretary of the navy (ironically staging his induction at the academy he used to hate), and promoter of adding a statue to the stark Vietnam Memorial. A well-researched and well-written account of five interesting lives. Gilbert Taylor --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

Timberg is a fine writer and he did a great job of telling the stories of these very interesting Naval Academy grads.
The author, Robert Timberg, spent his career as a writer for the Baltimore Sun, but was also a graduate of the US Naval Academy - as were the subjects of this book.
Well-written, concise, and entertaining, this book is a great read for political junkies and readers interested in learning more about the Vietnam War.
Glenn McDorman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 8, 1999
Format: Paperback
I first read this book when it was originally published. Now, with the potential presidential campaign of John McCain unfolding, I revisited it, and in so doing, reaffirmed to myself what a tremendous story this is. Robert Timberg presents a fascinating study of five contemporary American men, their formulative years, their central experience...Vietnam, and then their post-war life and public service.
During Iran-Contra, I was never a fan of either MacFarlane or Poindexter. North was something else, though, especially intriguing in his defiant testimony before Congress. But I came away from this book with a much different feeling towards these three men. My impression of Poindexter changed very favorably, not because of his actions but because of his sense of responsibility. I found myself to be very sympathetic towards MacFarlane ...a reasonably good man in a situation out of control. North, to me, became the extremely loose cannon with no controls from above.
My admiration of McCain and Webb continues to grow. McCain's experiences, especially aboard USS Forrestal and then as a prisoner of war, are riveting. The parallel heroics of McCain's wife during the war is just as inspirational. But I found James Webb to be the most interesting character. Here is a very young man distinguishing himself as a outstanding combat leader, but powerless to prevent the slaughter of his men. Returning to law school, he faces an almost hostile enviornment, ridiculing his service and the sacrifice of his comrades. In the midst of this, Webb embarks on a process of establishing himself as a significant author, and also becomes a significant but controversial figure within the Navy.
This is a book dealing with service, courage, honor and commitment, of paths which diverged and paths which converged. Above all, it is a book dealing with obediance to orders, and the consequences this obediance can produce.
Read this book.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
41 of 46 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 30, 1999
Format: Paperback
After reading "Into Thin Air" a year ago, I thought that it would be a long time before I read anything quite so mesmerizing. Well, "The Nightingale's Song" rivals "Into Thin Air" in this regard. Written by a Naval Academy graduate, Robert Timberg, "The Nightingale's Song" is chock full of incredibly interesting insights about the lives and careers of five Naval Academy graduates who are somewhat familiar to anyone with an interest in national politics. Additionally, Timberg's nuanced analysis of the political innerworkings of the Reagan Administration which contributed to the Iran Contra debacle seems to be completely on the money. Relative to the five individuals profiled (Messrs McCain, North, Webb, Poindexter and McFarlane), Timburg paints five fascinating profiles which honestly deals with the strengths and weaknesses of each. One can read the book and still feel great respect for Oliver North, whose penchant for excess is thoroughly documented, due to his undying commitment to getting the mission accomplished (whatever it might have been). Case in point: Timberg's account of how North went back to Vietnam (after having ended his tour) on his own time and money to defend a former colleague on an unfair charge is one of the most inspiring of many inspiring stories in the book. My admiration for John McCain, which was high before I read the book, is through the roof after reading about the courage and tenacity with which he conducted himself while in the Hanoi Hilton. If anything, Timberg's own personal connection with the Academy gave him a great perspective with which to delve into the lives of each of these men and what forces might have shaped their individual characters.
I can't recommend this book strongly enough.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
32 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Raymond on December 29, 2004
Format: Paperback
Robert Timberg has written a deeply compelling and somewhat tragic account of five men and how Vietnam shaped and molded their respective character. The book moves quickly and is irresistable after a few pages. A real page turner. Of all the characters within the book, John McCain comes out a real live American hero. Olliver North does not fare so well. Had North retired after his Vietnam stint there wouldn't be enough accolades to describe his service. However, ambition makes a fool of those who cater to its excess and North dives in head first without checking the depth of the water below. Some have criticized Timberg's work as "Anti-Reagan". That is not a fair depiction of the work. Reagan comes across as the "Nightgale" in the book's title. The fact that the song was sung simply and without shame should not provide a source of dismay for anyone who studies history. Reagan merely managed his administration differently than others who have occupied that office. The book focuses solely on five men (North, McCain, Poindexter, Webb, and McFarlane), and delivers a moving, emotional, and poignant portrayal of young men and how the smell of gunpowder can stir the soul and change the course of individuals. In the case of John McCain, the prison in which he suffered turned out to be his salvation as a human being. In the case of Oliver North, the battle scars he carried only seemed to reflect his driving passion to succeed. This is a must read for all who value American History and understand why old men should only send young men into battle as a last resort. The fact that we are mired in another "unwinnable" war only makes this work more compelling. This story will be valid until such time as man conquers his conquering urge.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?