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on August 3, 2014
This is my very first review of a book purchased from Amazon even though I have purchased hundreds of such books over the years; however, I feel that potential readers deserve a warning about this book. I am avid reader of books about military life and equipment, and was looking forward to this book as a current first person account of the operations of a modern aircraft carrier; however, amazingly, even though the author was able to spend two weeks aboard the carrier as observer with apparently rather complete access to the ship and its crew, there is very little specific information about the ship, its operations or its crew; instead, the book mainly focuses on his adjustments and problems to living on the ship, e.g., need for his own cabin, need for his own private bathroom, complaints about the food and his inability to get a good meal until invited to the captain's table, etc. I learned little of great interest about the ship and its operations that I didn't already generally know from other books. The author even makes a point that while he carries a notebook with him, he seldom writes anything in the notebook and doesn't have a good memory for details. By the end of the book, I knew a great deal about him and rather quite a bit less about the ship and its crew that I would have anticipated from experienced journalist spending two weeks aboard the carrier.
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on June 27, 2014
I have learned to have an appreciation of Naval Aviation through the writings of a great blogger, the late Carroll Lefon.

Look up "Neptunus Lex" on the web to see the influence he had.

So I wondered how I could possibly learn more about carrier operations by reading this book.

Well, it is a perfect companion to Lex's writings, because while Lex (who was XO of the TOPGUN program at one time and had over 4,000 hours of FA/18 time) went to great effort in telling people **how ** things were on a carrier, Dyer tells you how it **feels**.

From the time he leaves Bahrain, he tells you what if **feels** like to ride in the Navy's cargo hauler and bus, the Greyhound.

What happens when it misses the trap and had to make another attempt at landing on the carrier. As he wrote you leave a familiar world and in 40 minutes you have landed on a completely alien world.

But frankly the guy pissed me off just a bit (knowing, as GB Shaw mentioned that Britain and America are 2 countries separated by a common language) the American slang of "pissed" is different from the British version).

And our meaning definitely doesn't involve alcohol.

The author makes it a point of saying how much he dislikes the accommodations the Navy has assigned him, and is actually proud of the fact that after enough "whinging" he is assigned a "VIP" room.

And throughout the book a constant theme is his dissatisfaction of the food offered him.

whinge (hw nj, w nj)
intr.v. whinged, whing•ing, whing•es Chiefly British
To complain or protest, especially in an annoying or persistent manner.

He is finally satisfied (and to avoid putting the "spoiler" moniker on me I will refrain from telling you how) but his constant whining, particularly to a reader who over the years came to appreciate the people who make carriers work, as taught by a man who loved his Navy and died in its service) - - well, his attitude really irritated me.

It is a credit to the Captain and crew of the Bush that they treated him as a guest, no matter how unreasonable, and his refusal to totally immerse himself into their world and live as they lived is a loss for him, and not a gain for the reader.

With all that being said the book is still worth a read.
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on August 7, 2014
At first blush, I thought Dyer to be in the lead for Pompous Ass of the year award. His apparent disrespect for the sailors aboard the USS George Bush really started to irk me. Almost to the point of walking out in mid-read, but, I’m glad I didn’t. He captured life aboard the ship as well as the multitude of ideals and contradictions held by the staff.

Felt like I was aboard ship and could feel my fillings rattle every time a jet landed or took off. An enjoyable read, and I’m glad I stuck around.
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on July 7, 2016
Although the author's time aboard the carrier was voluntary, one would have thought it was surely not. The book is a collection of whining, snarky comments and condescending remarks. I wonder why he did not embark on a Royal Navy ship instead...but then he would have had one less inconvenience (lack of alcohol) upon which to constantly dwell. The facts that US Navy ships are dry along with being noisy, cramped and the food more akin to a cafeteria than a 5-star restaurant seemed to be major revelations to the author.

Usually I pass along books after reading them...this one went into the trash. I regret buying it, but thankful bought it used.
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on February 28, 2018
Great read, and gave it to a friend who spent time on an aircraft carrier and he enjoyed it too.
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on June 23, 2014
Be forwarned this is as much about the fobias and frailities of the author as it is about life aboard an aircraft carrier. The author is right that he is no Tom Wolfe, who managed to observe and write on ant number of subjects without injecting details about himself, whereas with Dyer you get every last fart. George Plimpton was also quite good at the "duck out of water" genre because he genuinely admired the athletes whoose ranks he attempted to chronicle, whereas one senses Dyer has a veiled contempt for the men and women that serve aboard the George H W Bush.. As for the figher prominently pictured on the cover, one can only imagine Dyer chucklling back at home with his Burgundy swilling croinies - "fooled another one". One does get to meet crew members with nicknames like "Jax" and "Disney", and Dyer christens himself as "Beach Belly". One might be tempted to say that "Jackass" would be more appropriate, except that even a jackass can occasionally entertain, and in the final analysis Dyer is a winnowing "Bore".
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on August 31, 2016
I have read many of Geoff Dyer's books, and this is among his very best -- up there with "Out of Sheer Rage," his book about D.H. Lawrence. The customer reviews that can't believe Dyer complained about the food on the aircraft carrier (as well as complaining about everything else) don't understand that this is Dyer's persona as a writer. In all his books he portrays himself as a feckless, disillusioned, neurotic, wimpy, middle-aged guy, so of course he complains about Navy food, the sleeping accommodations, and almost loses it when he can't get Wi-Fi access. That's his schtick. What's so wonderful about this book is that he can portray the entire enterprise of a US aircraft carrier in voices by turns mocking and awed. He admires what these men and women are doing, is in love with the hi-tech world of the military, but also finds many of them to be completely nuts. The best parts are when he discusses his own English childhood steeped in films and stories of the Battle of Britain and building WW2 model airplanes. Dyer is a marvelous and marvelously funny writer. I enjoyed every page of this book.
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on March 2, 2015
I enjoyed Dyer's writing, but I was hoping for a bit more insight into how carriers operate on a day-to-day basis, versus the philosophical ramifications of such. Some of the points he makes are fascinating, though - even if they are a little heavy handed.
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on May 21, 2015
I've just started reading it. I ordered it because the author was hilarious on the Book Channel. He just throws in a few funny tidbits, but it's more serious than funny and certainly gives the reader a good idea about life aboard an aircraft carrier.
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on June 24, 2015
Another great story written by a man who could never understand the military mindset as to duty, honor, courage and sacrifice as he was incapable of understanding the concepts of those criteria. He did however write a great story of our men in uniform and what an outstanding job they do every day with out too many complaints..
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