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Flight of the Intruder Paperback – AC-3, February 1, 1991
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From Publishers Weekly
With this well-crafted first novel, the publishers of The Hunt for Red October again demonstrate a sure eye for picking winners in the thriller genre. Jake Grafton is an A-6 Intruder pilot during the Vietnam War who flies his bomber on sorties past enemy flak and SAM missiles, and then must maneuver his plane, often at night, onto the relatively small deck of an aircraft carrier. Former Navy flyer Coonts gives an excellent sense of the complexities of modern air raids and how nerve-wracking it is, even for the best airmen, to technically solve sudden problems over and over, knowing that even a twist of fatea peasant wildly firing a rifle from a fieldcould wipe out the crew. Grafton alternates between remorse over the fate of his unseen Vietnamese victims on the ground and a gung-ho "let's win this war" sentiment that lashes at both policymakers who select less-than-important targets for the dangerous missions and advocates for peace back in the States. The action, though, is realistically detailed and absorbing. 75,000 first printing; $80,000 ad/promo.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“[Coonts's] gripping, first-person narration of aerial combat is the best I've ever read. Once begun, this book cannot be laid aside.” ? The Wall Street Journal
“Coont's pilots are the real McCoy and his compassion for them sustains his story from first page to last . . . a sometimes exhilarating, often nightmarish tale.” ? Kirkus Reviews
“A winner.” ? Philadelphia Inquirer
“Kept me strapped in the cockpit of the author's imagination for a down-and-dirty novel.” ? St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Coonts makes us see, smell, hear, taste, and feel battle.” ? Cleveland PlainDealer --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
This is a first novel by a writer who lived the experiences of his fictional character. When I first read this book about the time the hardcover was first published, I felt as if I was in the ready room with Grafton, Boxman, Razor and the others being briefed before "going downtown" to bomb Hanoi.
The feel for time and place is all here. The descriptions of the life aboard a carrier on station, the shore leave in Subic Bay and Olongapo City all ring true according to my navy veteran friends. As I read, I felt as if I could have been one of the characters Stephen Coonts wrote about.
For a debut novel, this one was extrememly well done. It was the entrant to a series that I hoped Coonts would write, and subsequently did. I like Jake Grafton because he is a man all of us could only hope to be. Most of all, he is a man of honor and integrity and this is demonstrated when he decides to put his career (and freedom) on the line by going after a target "downtown" after President Johnson has called a bombing halt over Hanoi and Haiphong.
Another wonderfully drawn character is LCDR Virgil Cole, Jake's B/N (bombardier/navigator). Cole has seen combat before and has the Silver Star. He trusts no one but himself but, does his job magnificently. In the movie version, the casting for this character was brilliantly handled when Willem Dafoe played the part to perfection. Although the book and the movie differ at the end, the characterization was true to Mr. Coonts' intent, in my opinion. Jake and Cole became a team and stuck together in thick and thin. Their friendship and loyalty to each other was proven when they went after their downed squadron commander, CDR Camparelli, were shot down themselves and had to survive. The two, who are bound by a well-defined sense of honor, keep their commitments to each other and their squadron.
Although Coonts the writer was also Coonts the lawyer at the time he wrote the novel, he introduces a question of military ethics and obedience when the navy investigates Grafton's and Cole's unauthorized mission against the North Vietnamese capital. Senator Fred Dalton Thompson of Tennessee, in one of his supporting screen roles, does an effective job as the navy Staff Judge Advocate arguing that control of the military must remain in the hands of civilians and elected officials if the United States is to avoid the dangers of military control of the government. Again, this actor turned politician mirrors exactly Mr. Coonts' character in the novel when he and other senior officers attempt to determine the fate of the two aviators who flew side by side in that wonderful Grumman attack aircraft.
Stephen Coonts' wrote a novel that begged for a sequel or a series. I am sure that most readers clamored for more of Jake Grafton after reading this book. I know I did. This book proves that Mr. Coonts is a man of many talents. After all, he flew the Intruder, came home to become a successful lawyer and then launched a very successful career doing something he really likes namely, writing popular novels. Even though I first read this book almost 11 years ago, I finally got the chance to thank the author for all the hours of reading enjoyment he's given me. I'd also like to thank him for his service in Vietnam and in the reserves from which he retired not so many years ago.
BZ CDR Stephen Coonts USNR (ret) and thank you!
"Intruders" is easily the greatest novel written about the air war over Vietnam, or anywhere. Coonts creates highly fleshed characters like the laconic Cole, Camparelli, the dedicated CAG, "Razor", "Boxman" and of course, Grafton himself. As a "technothriller" "Intruder" also excels not only on Coonts' thorough knowledge of the A-6 airplane but also his unique ability to work his knowledge into an excellent plot (and not the other way around as you'll see on just about any similar book). What really sets this book apart from similar stories about the airwar is its brave treatment of the political realities of the war - though we've been prepped to despise the Byzantine regulation of the war, the ultimate court battle our heroes face isn'tr afraid to look at the issue from both sides. Grafton's superiors, who'd be clueless buffoons in other books, are allowed to be dedicated and highly experienced officers here. Grafton, on the other hand, is no hero, something Cool-Hand himself would be the first to admit to you. Priceless dialog and a climax that is none-too-pat round out this novel. Avoid the rip-offs (and the movie while you're at it).
Too many other writers would have focused too much on the technical aspects of the writing and not spent enough time making the characters, and not just the machines, real. Coonts, on the other hand, has struck the perfect balance between technical accuracy and glorious storytelling. A must-read in my opinion.