- Hardcover: 353 pages
- Publisher: NYU Press; First Edition edition (May 31, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 081479842X
- ISBN-13: 978-0814798423
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,795,115 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Afterburner: Naval Aviators and the Vietnam War First Edition Edition
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"At times as thrilling as a Tom Clancy novel, Afterburner is more compelling, as the story told is non-fiction. I strongly recommend this book for anyone interested in the Vietnam War, Naval Aviation, or simply the heroism of Americans at war."-, -James Reckner,Director, The Vietnam Center, Texas Tech University
"Sherwood not only provides an excellent overview of the Navy's air operations, but more important, he gives the reader a cockpit's eye view of this epic struggle. Anyone interested in understanding the naval air war in Vietnam as it was really fought needs to read this book."--Congressman Randy Cunningham
"Sherwood's history of the Navy's post-1968 air operations in Southeast Asia and the culture of naval aviators who flew those missions is a must read for military professionals, scholars, journalists, and the interested public."-, -Charles J. Gross,author of American Military Aviation: The Indispensable Arm
"This is history at its best. Sherwood provides at once a whole new understanding of the final stages of the air war in Vietnam and a thrilling volume of valor and adventure in naval aviation."-, -John Lehman,secretary of the Navy 1981-1987, and author of On Seas of Glory: Heroic Men, Great Ships, and Epic Battles of the American Navy
About the Author
John Darrell Sherwood is an official historian with the U.S. Naval Historical Center. He is the author of Officers in Flight Suits: The Story of American Air Force Fighter Pilots in Korea and Afterburner: Naval Aviators and the Vietnam War, both published by NYU Press. He is also the author of Fast Movers: Aviators and the Vietnam War Experience.
Top customer reviews
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"Afterburner" is the story of the US Navy's contribution to this most difficult time in our history. It makes no claims to being the definitive account of this aspect of the war, but it does make the observation that the Vietnam War offers many helpful insights to Navy war fighters currently engaged in the global war on terrorisim. It would be my opinion that the book scores well in that regard and it also offers many cautionary tales for naval aviators, those who plan these wars and those who find themselves in a political position to influence the war's conduct.
Vietnam is very far in the rearview mirror to many of us and while it was front and center in the nightly news reports, many of us found it easy to let the scenes wash over us as the prosecution of the war became ensnared in the politics of the day.
Lost in the war protests and the POW stories and frustration of watching the greatest millitary power in the world be held at bay by an inferior force were numerous stories of heroisim and frustration that deserve to be told and listened to.
This is an appropriate place to do that. It is sobering, educational, sometimes uplifting and some times maddening. However, it is worth doing.
As someone who's intimately familiar with many of the aircrews mentioned in the book, though they weren't a good representative sample to be honest, I've heard the stories before - their reliance upon reality versus what "makes" a good story, etc. Here the author has presented a significantly biased and slanted view of a few people's opinions (but that's been said before, not just here). What bothered me from the very first page that I read was 1) many of the significant enemy encounters had not been presented, what's more even mentioned, and 2) the author had apparently never heard the correct terminology for what one half of the Navy's F-4 flight crew was named - the Radar Intercept Officer (RIO). Instead, he calls them NFO (Naval Flight Officer) throughout the book. That closed the book permanently for me.
Don't waste your money. I can name a half dozen other books about the subject matter whose content is far more in-depth at covering virtually the same people (though many more, too) and the same exploits.
If we compare Afterburner to the official Air Force history of the war over North Vietnam - Wayne Thompson's "To Hanoi and Back" - the deficiencies of Afterburner seem all the more glaring. Thompson's work is quite simply head and shoulders above Sherwood's, and it is a shame that Sherwood didn't follow Thompson's model. Indeed, I hope the Naval Historical Center someday does write the "naval version" of "To Hanoi and Back". I would certainly recommend reading Thompson's book or Marsall Michel's outstanding "Clashes" before reading Afterburner. In either of these books you will find the comprehensive discussion of technology, doctrine, strategy, and tactics that you will not find in Afterburner.
To be fair, the author states that writing a definitive official history was not his intent. He wanted to write a popular history that is about "real people" and to avoid "dry statistics". He certainly achieves these goals. This book is enjoyable enough per se, and we learn some things about what it was like to be a naval aviator in Vietnam. But, it falls short in the realm of analysis of the big picture. The definitive account of the naval air war in Vietnam remains to be written.