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Taking Fire: The True Story of a Decorated Chopper Pilot Mass Market Paperback – April 15, 2002

3.1 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Now a high school math teacher, Alexander tells his Vietnam War story with the help of Sasser (Always a Warrior; etc.) in this combat-heavy memoir. Most army helicopter pilots in the Vietnam War were young, rapidly trained warrant officers. Alexander was an exception. After a year of college, he joined the army in 1964, went Airborne, completed Officer Candidate School and then learned to fly helicopters. He arrived in Vietnam as a lieutenant in 1969 and flew scores of missions with the 1st Cavalry Division. Alexander and Sasser use much obviously reconstructed dialogue, some admittedly "re-created" scenes and a mixture of real and made-up names. They also pepper the narrative with profanity, disparaging terms for Vietnamese and helicopter techno talk, all of which dilutes the book's impact. However, they succeed quite well in evoking the Vietnam War from the point of view of a helicopter pilot who served bravely and with distinction. They also convincingly convey Alexander's changing feelings about the war. While he initially tried to avoid serving in the war, once in Vietnam he "embraced the war" as a fervent anti-Communist patriot. After months of heavy combat, though, Alexander had "second thoughts" about the war. Although he continued to serve honorably, Alexander's main goal in the final months of his Vietnam tour was to come home alive and in one piece. He succeeded. Photos.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Legendary 1st Air Cavalry Division pilot Alexander was the most highly decorated American helicopter pilot of the thousands who served in the Vietnam War. He was also one of the luckiest soldiers ever to serve in a war zone his aircraft survived hundreds of missions without once suffering damage from enemy fire. His book, co-written with combat veteran and author Sasser (One Shot One Kill), tells of an unlikely hero; Alexander, nicknamed "Mini Man" by his comrades, barely qualified for aviation training, being under the minimum height requirement of 5'4". He also spent much of his time before Vietnam working the system to avoid being assigned to the war. Despite his most creative efforts, the young pilot found himself attached to the army's most combat-intensive formation the new and experimental 1st Air Cavalry. The reader shares Alexander's own amazement as the lackadaisical recruit is transformed into a highly skilled and thoroughly professional combat officer. The writing style and vocabulary are not scholarly, but this is an honest and exciting narrative of the stress of war. Suitable for public libraries and academic libraries with comprehensive Vietnam collections. John R. Vallely, Siena Coll. Lib., Loudonville, NY
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks (April 15, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312980175
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312980177
  • Product Dimensions: 3.8 x 0.9 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,317,699 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Glen R. Senkowski on April 14, 2002
Format: Hardcover
After an internal review at the NASM, the Executive Director ordered "Taking Fire" to be removed from the gift shop due to fraudulent claims and highly racist rhetoric. For example, the back cover of the paperback states that Mr. Alexander was the "second highest decorated helicopter pilot of the Vietnam era." That would come as a big surprise to the nine helicopter pilots who were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. If you like lightweight, highly fictionalized accounts of the Vietnam War, then read this book. However, it makes a mockery of the sacrifices made by members of A Troop, 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry and Company H, 75th Rangers. How do I know? I flew with Alexander throughout his entire tour and I have firsthand knowledge of the missions he describes so poorly and inaccurately. I wish I could give it zero stars but the format doesn't allow it.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I was one of Alexander's first Aircraft Commanders (AC) when he arrived in Vietnam, and I was still in the unit six months after he left. When I confronted his co-author Sasser about the ridiculous claims in this book, he told me "You don't know what the hell you're talking about." Oh, but I do. I read this "book" again and feel compelled to let other less-informed readers know that it goes beyond fiction to flat-out delusion. A classic example is the "Sergeant Snider LRRP" incident, where Alexander flagrantly steals the valor of his now-deceased AC Kit Beatton, (who was much loved and respected by the Troop and received a Silver Star for the action) as well as claiming kills that rightfully belonged to the LRRP Team Slashing Talon 36. Despite what Alexander and Sasser say, Alexander did nothing but sit in the helicopter; the landing zone never took a shot; the enemy were either killed, wounded or routed by the covering Cobras and the survivors of the LRRP Team (Slashing Talon 36) by the time Alexander's aircraft landed; a medevac had already extracted the wounded (and was not fired on either). I was flying above Alexander's (or more rightfully Kit Beatton's) aircraft the entire time. I never took a shot. My recollections are corroborated by SGT Paul Alfaro, one of the LRRP survivors and Assistant Team Leader, and the after action reports of Company H, 75th Rangers. This sort of self-aggrandizing rubbish has no place on the fiction shelf, let alone the history shelf. Alexander and Sasser should be ashamed of themselves. But they apparently lack the ability, so the rest of the Troop has to do it for them.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Legendary 1st Air Cavalry Division pilot Alexander was the most highly decorated American helicopter pilot of the thousands who served in the Vietnam War."
I don't know and have never heard of the "Legandary" Mr. Alexander and have no doubt he did his duty but the "most decorated" in the war he was not. I cannot rank him at all. I do know combat scout pilots Larry "Kickass" Brown, Rod "Outcast" Willis, Ace "War Wagon" Cozzalio and Lou "Rocket" Rochat, and gun pilots Skip "Redskin" Butler", Ron Timberlake, Tim "Blue Ghost" Sprouse, Lou "Animal" Breuer, Mac "Charliehorse" Cocherell, Dean "Darkhorse" Sinor, Chuck Koranda and Steve Wing. Jolly pilot Rodney "Quang Tri"Griffiths and "Dustoff" MOH recipients Patrick Brady and Mike Novosel. I know "Legandary" Huey drivers like Joe Hogg, Wayne McAdoo, Bob Holmes, Joe Estes, Larry Ezell, Noel Harvey, and Mike Sloniker. You want "Legandary", I just gave you legandary. It would take Mr. Alexanders Huey to haul the medals these guys earned. Several of their crewchiefs are more highly decorated than Alexander. Mike Clausen comes to mind with his MOH. Jim parker and Ken Stormer are two. If the guys who were there with Alexander didn't "buy it", that's a bad sign. I hope this was someones else's fault and not his, but it is just not true.
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This a clearly a book where they author has taken several things that he heard from others, a litle bid of his own experince and then inflated the whole thing.
There are too many things in this book that don't fit what happend.
I have read other books about A troop 1/9 Cav, and it clear that this author has lent/stolen varius bits and used them with a nice twist in his own book
And to make the fatal error of refering to his own platoon (ei the lift platoon) as "blue platoon" when everybody know that the
Blue platoon are the ARP.
Don't buy it, its work of fiction....
Mr Alexander....shame on you, you disgrace the ones who gave all
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
As someone who spent 2.5 years in RVN (one year as a crewchief/gunner) and a lifetime career in aviation as a F/W Commerical Pilot and A&P mechanic (most of that on Bell Helicopters), I found this book disappointing. In fact the book belongs in the FICTION Catagory. There were so many discrepancies in the book I don't know where to begin. But I will say this, I NEVER had any doubt in my mind when I was being shot at. And I didn't have to hear a "ping" to know it. The sound of a close 7.62 will get your attention and a 12.7 mm will scare the s**t out of you. Perhaps the Capt. has told so many war stories he began to believe them himself but for someone who was there and did that, his war stories are BS.
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