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Pushing the Envelope: The Career of Fighter Ace and Test Pilot Marion Carl Paperback – March, 2005

4.5 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Carl's life story is the stuff of film scripts and TV miniseries. At Midway and Guadalcanal he became the first Marine ace of WW II. He was a test pilot in the pioneer days of jet aviation, flying early versions of almost every model of fighter adopted by the U.S. armed forces and flew clandestine reconnaissance missions over China in the 1950s. More than a pilot with the "right stuff," Carl, as a brigadier general, commanded the first Marines to land in Vietnam; in 1973 he retired as Inspector General of the Marine Corps. Unfortunately, Carl's cursory, lifeless narrative reads like a collection of after-action reports. Even the collaboration of Tillman, a leading aviation writer, fails to give Carl's career its appropriately dramatic impact. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

A blunt, spare autobiography from a past president of the American Fighter Aces Association. Carl neither minces nor wastes words in recalling a distinguished career as a US Marine Corps aviator, which began immediately after his 1938 graduation from Oregon State and ended 35 years later when he retired with the rank of major general. Having earned his wings in 1939, the author (now 78) was an early- bird arrival in WW II's Pacific theater. Flying F4F Wildcats in the unfriendly skies above Midway and Guadalcanal, he downed 16 Japanese planes. Sent stateside to be showcased as the USMC's first ace, Carl wooed and won his wife (then a Powers model). He survived a second tour in the Solomons, adding two more kills to his victory total, and ended the war as a test pilot. Adapting easily to the jet age, the author set a variety of altitude and speed records that (though long since broken) attest to his willingness to push the envelope, i.e., take experimental aircraft (and, it would seem, his own convictions) to, even beyond, their theoretical limits. He led photoreconnaissance flights over Red China in the mid-1950s and logged more than 100 missions in Vietnam. In the course of his lengthy service, Carl met and took the measure of many notables. While he remembers Joe Foss, Melvin Laird, Charles Lindbergh, and a host of lesser lights with fondness, the author has precious little use for Greg (Pappy) Boyington (of Black Sheep Squadron fame), Jacqueline Cochrane, LBJ, Ted Kennedy, Robert McNamara, and John Wayne. In a series of parting shots, moreover, he offers considered, if politically incorrect, pronouncements on gun control, the handling of the Tailhook sex scandal, women in combat, and other touchy issues. The dead-honest memoir of an accomplished military professional. The forthright text has 13 contemporary photos. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Bluejacket Books
  • Paperback: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Naval Institute Press (March 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591148669
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591148661
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,276,296 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Barrett Tillman on October 12, 1998
Format: Hardcover
By a quirk of incredibly bad timing, Naval Institute Press declared Marion's memoir out of print the same week he was killed in June 1998. The sudden nature of his death created an instant demand for the book, but NIP had neglected to inform the Carl family or me (his coauthor) that the book would be unavailable. We are, however, seeking another publisher and hope to have the story of this incredible aviator and exceptional man available again.
Barrett Tillman
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I admit some of the technical words were over my head but one has to acknowledge Maj. Gen. Carl's 35 years in the Marine corps. He was quite a guy. It is unfortunate we have so few of his caliber today. I think we owe it to him to read his story. What a tragedy after such a life to have his life ended the way it did.
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Format: Paperback
I live in Oregon and had the honor of visiting with Marion Carl on several occasions. During an airshow, I was escorting him around the aircraft and he spotted several Marine aircraft with there pilots standing near their aircraft. Marion spent a good deal of time speaking with them. Later I stopped by the pilots Marion had been talking with and to say the least these young men were impressed. The book is easy to read. Barrett did a great job of writing. I would recommend this book to any aviation buff.
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I grew up in Oregon and Marion Carl spoke at our high school when I was a student.He became one of my hero's and is partly responsible
for my becoming an Air Force pilot and having a military career. The book is well written and covers the life of one of the true patriots of
our time.
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Format: Paperback
This concise book represents the story of a unique individual. Marion E. Carl was, perhaps, one of the finest aviators who ever lived - FULL STOP. A natural pilot, he soloed after 2 hours of dual instruction. He later went on to become the U.S. Marine Corps' first fighter ace, seeing action at the Battles of Midway and Guadalcanal during the Second World War. (A little more than 20 years later, Carl commanded a Marine combat air wing in Vietnam, flying several missions himself.)

Carl became known for achieving a number of "firsts." He became the first Marine to fly a helicopter, the first Marine to land a jet on an aircraft carrier, and he also set a number of altitude and speed records. Carl also was an outstanding test pilot, and by the time, he retired from the USMC (United States Marine Corps), he had flown 14,000 flight hours.
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The 'Numero Uno' Marine Corps aviator of the century. If there are additonal qualifications for the 'title,.I'm not aware of what they could be. A career that began in the mud ridden 'Ready Tents' of Guadalcanal. Then reached literally to the heights of *80,000 ft doing test flights at Muroc (Edwards AFB later). Finally culminating with a General Officer flying everything in the Inventory out of Danang,including helicopters. Sets an almost insurmountable standard .
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As usual Tillman does a masterful job in covering his subject, but this time it was almost a "no brainer". Marion Carl's life was like a nearly unbelievable movie. The man was a true hero. His story from combat pilot, to test pilot and even his tragic heroic death at the hands of a low-life in his own home makes a person regret that he never had the opportunity to meet the man.
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This guy was it, from air victories at Midway and Guadalcanal, to pushing the sound barrier, this hard-core Marine was the real deal. He lived and died with honor at age 82, fighting off some thugs attacking his elderly wife.
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