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To the Limit: An Air Cav Huey Pilot in Vietnam Hardcover – June 1, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Potomac Books Inc. (June 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597970018
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597970013
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.4 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (180 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #926,260 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Johnson's description of flying the venerable Huey 'to the limit' and sometimes beyond is indeed riveting."

". . . .an absorbing book. Whether or not you served in the military or ever flew in a helicopter, it will grab you and hold your attention."

"A riveting, well-written book that puts the reader right there in the cockpit. . . . To the Limit is worthy of its own screen rendition. What makes [it] such a credible work is that it is not just blood and guts. Johnson writes with passion and earnestness regarding these character-building episodes that helped define him. . . . The only whining you will hear is the powerful engine of the Huey that Tom Johnson describes so vividly that you can almost feel the ground shake."

“ ‘I am touching my first dead person and unfortunately I know him. . . .’ When you strap into a Huey with Tom Johnson, you’re in for the real thing. To the Limitis a first-person journey into the grit, grimness, and chaos of war, told by a helicopter hero in a way that nails the feel, the mood, and the talk of Air Cavalrymen in battle. No one has previously captured the Vietnam helicopter experience with such gripping authenticity.”

“This is the real thing: helicopter combat at its birth. No wonder Army helo drivers were among the most decorated aviators of the Vietnam War. Tom Johnson truly shows us what the rank-and-file Huey crews experienced.”

“Always leery of superlatives in book reviews, I feel compelled to use them in describing Tom Johnson’s To the Limit. It is an intense, compelling, gut-wrenching narrative—by far the best account of helicopter warfare I have read.”

From the Publisher

A nineteen-year-old learns to master a helicopter—and his courage—during intensely dangerous and innovative air assault missions

A seat-of-the-pants Vietnam War helicopter-flying adventure in the tradition of Robert Mason's bestselling Chickenhawk

Highlights such key actions of the Vietnam War in 1967 and 1968 as the Song Re Valley, Hue, Khe Sanh, the Tet Offensive, and the A Shau Valley


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Customer Reviews

Well written with very good technical details.
J. Martin
I just finished reading this book and I found myself absorbed fully and I couldn't put it down.
Arthur W. Salmons
The book is about the author's experiences as an Army 1st Cav Huey pilot in Vietnam.
CE

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 40 people found the following review helpful By S. Harding on September 11, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I finished your book about a two weeks ago.

A totally engrossing read. If you had any question about your success in conveying what it must have been like, you nailed it 100%.

I waited a couple of weeks to see let the story sink in before writing as I thought I'd be able to more adequately describe how much I enjoyed the book and to somehow explain just how much impact it had. I find I'm still short of words, so you'll have to accept that as the best compliment I can come up with.

You and your fellow aviators have my absolute respect and admiration. I turned the TV on a few days ago to see "Tour of Duty" showing on the History channel. There was a Huey dropping off a bunch of guys! I have not watched that series before and having gained some insight from your book, it is something I can watch with considerably more knowledge, respect and interest.

The technical description of how those whirlybirds work and behave is reminiscent of Tom Clancy's writing style in his books that usually involve submarines. In this case, knowing the story is in fact non-fiction adds an entirely new perspective.

I'm still struck with the vision of waking up in your tent - a damp, humid, mucky, muddy, steamy cauldron - I could "feel" what you described.

I am left with very clear visions of: how you "sanitized" your machine by dipping it in the river; the lesson (and practice) of keeping the nose high during a crash into trees; the emotional toll being separated from a young wife; losing friends; crashes and combat; landing without power! WOW.....

I'm still fascinated by the concept of landing a helicopter without power! I'd love to see a video of that. Those things really don't look like gliding is something they do particularly well... That whole auto-rotation thing is hard to accept without actually seeing it work.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By John Matlock on August 17, 2006
Format: Hardcover
As the author put it, the Army gave him a choice, he could walk or he could fly around Vietnam. At nineteen he already had five years of flying experience. It isn't hard to guess which option he choose, especially since by now you've certainly read the title of the book.

His tour of duty ran from June 1967 to June 1968. During that time he flew 1600 air hours. A normal work year in the US is 2000 hours. He was basically in the air for a year. And he was there during some of the worst possible times: Hue and Khe Sanh, operations in the A Shau and Song Re valleys. This was the most dangerous job that the Army had, one in eighteen didn't come home alive. The book is dedicated in memory of James Arthur Johansen. He is pictured on page 193 a few hours before he was killed.

Mr. Johnson came home with a chest full of medals. He doesn't mention what kind of a reception he received when he came back, but 1968 was the time when the reception was not good. He deserved the medals, and I hope his reception was good. Thanks, Mr. Johnson, for writing this story.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Robbie on August 14, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
To The Limit is a 1st rate, well written book that shows Helicopter flying at its best. One can learn great insight into the skills required to fly a helicopter, especially in combat.

Due to combat situations and other extenuating circumstances, Tom Johnson, his air crews, and the helicopters themselves are pushed "beyond their limits".

With great detail Tom Johnson vividly describes many instances from his flight school days through his tour of duty in Vietnam.

Some stories are hysterical, including the time mortars are falling all around, while Tom Johnson and others are trying to run from the outhouse to seek cover.

Tom's vivid description of combat, death of friends, and others he never knew, gives you a true feel of the intensity of combat. The vivid pictures he describes will cause your heart to race and your palms to sweat.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By natalie on December 11, 2007
Format: Paperback
so, i thought i'd give the point of view of a young person and my impressions of this book.

recently i took an interest in the vietnam war and after seeing most of the vietnam movies out there, i moved onto books. i wasn't sure exactly which aspect of the war i wanted to read about, but from "we were soldiers" i became familiar with the air cavalry and so i picked this book.

and i'm so glad i did. i loved it. this is the sort of stuff i wish they'd told me about in school. i think tom johnson did an awesome job of telling his story truthfully but modestly. the book is so real. it wasn't a bunch of watered down garbage (which i've read enough of in high school), it was his story as he remembered it. i saw the pride the air cavalry guys had for their division and how deeply affected they were by the losses of their friends. i saw how the guys emotionally dealt with dangerous missions and their possible deaths, and a lot of the "goings on" of the military.

also, this book is crazy intense. especially the chapter about his experience in the a shau valley. my palms were sweaty and everything. if that's not a sign of a good book i don't know what is.

overall, i reccommend this book to my peers and my elders alike.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By R. Wiggins on October 11, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Johnson's propensity for detail is amazing. From the very first page I felt I was inside of a Huey helicopter at the controls. It was downhill from there. The action was so heart pounding and detailed, I could hardly put the book down. I even carried it in my truck so I could read while stopped at red lights. In between the action, the times at the various LZs were very entertaining and enlightening. Johnson really brought the other soldiers to life so that you felt you knew each man on a personal basis. The flashbacks to the time when he was in training was critical in relating how he reacted to his current situation. I highly recommend this book to all ages.
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