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Showing 1-10 of 406 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 488 reviews
on October 11, 2014
.. Probably among the ten best books I've ever read, and at my age (83) I've read a lot of 'em. There's so much good about this book I hardly know where to start. I was so impressed with both Robin Olds' exploits and the way the book was written I bought two more as loaners for friends, who were equally impressed. This is one of those books that will keep you up late at night and destroy your daily routine because it is hard to put down. I learned much about the air wars of WW2 and Viet-Nam, the West Point "old-boy" network, the disfunctional way the Pentagon and DOD works, and the way a true hero bends the rules when necessary. ... Can't recommend this book high enough as a combination of entertainment, history, and the story of a true hero. Patton and Olds would have understood one another.

Olds himself, using his collection of notes, completed most of the book before passing away before final completion. The book was finished and final edited posthumously by his daughter and another combat experienced fighter pilot who helped keep things technically straight.

I can't rate this book high enough. You won't be disappointed.
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on July 16, 2014
A great "thinking hotrod" of the USAF, General Robin Olds had an unconventional style of leadership. He exercised it with as much gusto on the flight lines of the units he commanded as the officers club bars where he infused spirited competitiveness among his pilots. That predictably left a trail of broken fittings and furniture sometimes but he he was quick to take the blame and organise compensation immediately the following morning. But even in the middle of roaring fighter pilots' songs with his youngsters, Robin Olds remained a serious professional and an exceptional air tactician throughout his career, flying fighters of World War 2 and the Vietnam war. He was not a glory seeker. He deliberately stopped shooting down Migs after his four victories in Vietnam (he was already a well known WW2 ace) just because USAF had warned him he would have to return home to a desk job as soon as he had his fifth kill in Vietnam. Robin got around the problem by inviting his No. 2 or No. 3 to take the Migs that would otherwise have been his victims. This tactic kept him flying in Vietnam for a much longer tenure. He flew as an exchange pilot with Britain's RAF and was uniquely honoured with the command of that squadron. As a colonel he flew with NATO combat crews in Europe and during that time, he set up an expanded tactical weapons delivery range at Wheelus AFB in Libya that provided realistic enhanced training to USAF pilots.. On return to Conus, he did an outstanding job at the USAF Academy as its Commandant and then as the Inspector General for Safety for the entire air force.
General Olds' greatest strength was his ability to confront both his juniors and seniors with the true state of affairs that affected the USAF's professional environment. No matter how unpleasant it might sound to their ears, he never minced his words or his biting criticism where it was deserved. By this personality trait he certainly lost some of the support of his seniors (and one or two more stars) but gained a huge amount of love and respect of all those he commanded. I have a photo of the F-15 missing man flyby he got when he was buried with full honours at the Arlington Cemetery in 2007. The general must have grunted with pleasure.
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on January 29, 2015
The book is the autobiography of fighter ace and legendary pilot, General Robin Olds, as told by himself and edited together after his death by his daughter Christina and friend and author Ed Rasimus. For a synopsis of the book and its content, please refer to the most helpful customer review.

Personally, I believe that by not completing his memoirs in time before his death, what could have been a truly outstanding addition to any aviation-related library instead turned out to be a very interesting book that clearly shows that is the result of stitching together written pieces but mostly lacks a true coherent structure. The book shines and excels when Robin has the pen in his hand and he is writing as he would be talking, and we get a glimpse into this huge personality. His legend status (at least amongst fellow pilots and fighters) is well deserved, as will be readily apparent after finishing the book.

This is definitely a recommended read for any aviation enthusiast, and as such I rate it 4 stars.
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on December 23, 2012
Of course, we don't know how much of this is Olds talking, and how much is his daughter, who actually put together the book. But as a student pilot, I find that once Olds gets in the cockpit, the narrative becomes absolutely gripping. He seems to have total recall of his time aloft. The aerial combat descriptions are detailed and believable, and he doesn't spare himself when he makes mistakes in the air. He also communicates well to this civilian the camaraderie of men in combat, and the tremendous mental discipline necessary to get past casualties and keep on fighting. Interestingly, his descriptions of the practical joking among combat pilots and the wild, destructive drinking and partying foreshadow the Tailhook incident involving Navy pilots.

His belief that the war could have been won if only the civilians had unleashed the military to mine Haiphong Harbor and bomb North Vietnam back to the Stone Age was common among military men at the time, if misguided. OTOH, it's hard not to sympathize with a warrior who is sent into a foolish, hopeless war and not allowed to use all the tools at his disposal. He lacked the ability to hold his tongue with the press and the public on war strategy and thus his eventual promotion to brigadier general can only be attributed to his legendary status as a fighter pilot and leader of men in combat. He pretty much blames his wife for their failed marriage, but what did he expect when he married a high-maintenance movie star, and then left her with the kids while he went off to fly jets and fire missiles at MiGs? It seems that they both had unrealistic expectations of each other, and the reader wonders why they stayed together as long as they did.

In short, get Olds into an airplane and this is a great read.
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on February 18, 2016
This is a truly great book and a labor of love by a daughter for her father. Very well written and as good a set of there i was stories about the Air Force in its great big period as Living in the Wild Blue and related books. He seems to be a model of the warrior hero and contrasts with the biography of Boyd the Fighter Mafia founder in being an exemplary Father, Husband and Human being.

I have a question for the author. From this book and a Biography of Gore Vidal in Vanity Fair; Gore Vidal's mother appears to have married Robin Olds father Gen Robert Olds late in his life when his son was already at West Point. If so, its a fascinating historical insight that the mother of the most most noted intellectual and loud critic of the Vietnam war and one of the earliest elite commentators to come out of the closet was also stepmother to the most celebrated combat hero and field level leader of the Vietnam war. In other words, two of the most different and opposed public figures of the period.
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on December 16, 2012
Robin Olds was a leader of men, an Air Force officer in the Vietnam War who knew what his mission was and assumed the responsibility for it, and of the support and welfare of his pilots. This book should be required reading for all military officers and all cadets of the military academies and of ROTC.

The then, Colonel Olds, would lead from the lead element of the attacking flights into North Vietnam; he never led from his desk at wing headquarters. Some military commanders of the present and of yesteryear are not so predisposed to be leaders like this. Robin Olds was, because he had a fundamental grounding in formal military leadership from his childhood experiences with his father providing a role model for his son to follow.

General Olds was also a superb and instinctive fighter pilot who could and did fly any airplane he ever sat in, starting with the P-38 at D-Day and the P-51D. Robin's tactical instincts caused him to develop attack plans and methodologies to outsmart the enemy, from the Luftwaffe over Europe to the North Vietnamese Air Force, often while the attack was already underway. These days all we hear from the Pentagon is the so-called superiority of Stealth, Drones, Cyber Space, and billion dollar airplanes; never the virtues of warriors, the man in the arena who defeats our country's enemies through skill and daring.

Robin's everlasting legacy, though, will be to inspire young Air Force officers to take the responsibility for their mission and for their people. To create and nurture the leadership potential of the "Robin Olds Factor" to exceed and surpass the political realities that senior military officials are often confronted with and turn that into victory for the United States Air Force.

Michael W. Rea, Captain USAF
Vietnam, 1969 to 1972
Savannah, Georgia
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on December 24, 2015
It's a great book, and Robin Olds is an American hero. One odd thing is that the cover of the book refers to Robin as the only US exchange officer ever to command an RAF (Royal Air Force) squadron. In the text of the book there is a short chapter on his initial experiences as an exchange officer, but it never says that he commanded a squadron while in England, and no experiences from this period are described. The book could also benefit from a glossary of terms containing military acronyms. Olds was initially held out of combat during WWII, and the reasons for this, and
the way Olds and friends eventually got around the problem are both amusing and disappointing. Sometimes I wonder how the US managed to win the war. It's clear that the level of competence and motivation in the Army at home was a cut below the Army over seas. I guess that's not too surprising. The most important historical information in the book comes from Robin's experiences during the Vietnam War. When he comes home he is given the honor of a meeting with President Johnson, and they have a rather tense conversation which showed just how out of touch Johnson was not only with the anti war movement but with the American people as a whole. Of course, this is not a new idea but it does drive home how isolated leaders can become - a dangerous thing for the country. Old's struggles to get the Air Force brass to listen to the lessons he learned in Vietnam are sad and disappointing and he retires from the Air Force in many ways a defeated man - his recommendations falling on deaf ears and many of his fellow pilots dead with nothing to show for it.
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on December 23, 2012
I was lucky enough to pick this book up as an unabridged book-on CD at a good price and WOW did I get something really, really good in the bargain. The book is written in the first person and the reader sounds like what you would imagine Robin Olds sounds like. I'm about 2/3 through the book and I am not going to skim over, for you, what I've already "read", but I will say that Robin Olds led a life and did things that are well worth reading and marveling about. The book is very well written and just flows. I have read quite a few books written by American warriors in the last year and this autobiography is way up at the top of a very good list of books. I would say that that Robin Olds was a great American hero, but I have a feeling that would just annoy him as what he really wanted to be, and was, was a great American fighter pilot and leader of other great American fighter pilots. (Example: when Robin had 4 kills in VietNam and was one short of being our first ace there, he heard that Harold Brown - Defence Secretary - would reassign him and take his group away from him and use him for propoganda when he got his 5th kill. N. VietNam also had a $25,000 bounty on him. Robin did not want to leave his men and he simply stopped shooting down Migs. He would set them up for his wingman and let his wingman take the kill. He gave up another 5-9 kills in this way.)

You definitely want to get and read this book! You are in for an inspirational treat. If you already have a list of other books that you want to read, do yourself a favor and fiinish what you are reading now and slot FIGHTER PILOT in right after it. You will thank me for the suggestion.
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on February 13, 2015
As a pilot I think there is no man in aviation for which I have more respect than Robin Olds. The man is more than a legend. I found this a very nice read. Especially the WW2 and Vietnam era parts. The rest is slightly less appealing but that is simply because for a man like Olds, peacetime is just less exciting. The book really gets you into the cockpit but also gives a view of the many problems the man faced in his private life when he landed and was back on the ground.
Ironically the books was written by Ed Razimus. A man who is extremely proud of being able to call himself a fighter pilot, just as Olds did. But when you read his own stories (When Thunder Rolled and Palace Cobra) you notice that he and Olds were completely different. Razimus is a bomber pilot that thinks he is a fighter pilot because he flies a fast jet and in the beginning in Vietnam is busy trying to get out of the war as fast as he can. Olds however is the pedigree fighter pilot. Never afraid to jump into a fight no matter what the odds are. Either from the cockpit or a desk. Taking every opportunity and going out of his way many times to answer that call for being the best. And he certainly was the best.
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on January 15, 2013
Fighter Pilot presents an all-encompassing portrayal of the greatest fighter pilot that ever lived, Robin Olds. It was written by his daughter, Christina Olds, with the help of Ed Rasimus, a published author and an old head fighter pilot who also flew Phantoms in the Vietnam War. Their dedication to this great book was comparable to General Robin Olds dedication to his country and those men that served under him.
After entering the Air Force in 1965 I began my F-4 Phantom training in preparation for a war tour at SEA (Southeast Asia). Nearly every instructional session or bantering over beers at the Officer's Club Stag bar included a mention of Robin Olds. He was the iconic fighter pilot of that era and his biography reveals what most of us already knew, he was an exceptional leader of men as well as a talented and tenacious fighter pilot. Despite his masculine warrior instincts he also possessed a soft sentimentality, as he displayed his humaneness towards everyone he came in contact with. He was a man of honor, character and integrity that superseded nearly all of the other renowned leaders that I have come in contact with in any realm. Of paramount importance, the book reveals that Col. Olds challenged the Pentagon and the White House regarding their misguided micromanagement of the air war over North Vietnam. His revised tactics defied his leaders, at the expense of his career progression, but saved an untold number of American airmen, and a few hundred million dollars worth of aircraft.
The Red Baron, Eddie Rickenbacker, Pappy Boyington, etc., pale in comparison to the ultimate fighter pilot, Robin Olds. This is a must read for pilots of all ilks, including all current or ex-military people, and laymen as well, since it provides a lens to view the dedication and commitment of the American G.I.
The exemplary character so often displayed by the American "GI" is taken to the highest level by the "Fighter Pilot." The book also provides a nice overview of aviation, particularly military aviation history from the beginning of World War II to the end of the Vietnam era. An additional reader's nugget is the interesting travelogue as it takes the reader to the many areas around the world where he served. Woven into the story is Robin Olds love for Britain and the unique character of the Britts as they displayed their stoic hard-nosed endurance of the bombing of London and other parts of the UK by the German Luftwaffe.
Allen Morris/a.k.a. Ace Abbott, aviation author;[...]
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