Chickenhawk Robert Mason Chickenhawk - Back in the world. Life after Vietnam
This is a kind of double review, as I don't think I could recommend reading the sequel without reading the original first.
I've just finished 'Chickenhawk - Back in the world' by Robert Mason , sequel to the original 'Chickenhawk ', the true story of a helicopter pilot's experiences in Vietnam. I'd spotted this book while browsing on Amazon and because I'd loved the original, I had to read about how Robert Mason's life turned out after Vietnam, especially as he left a couple of big statements hanging in the air at the end of the first book about what happened after he left the army (helicopter pilots were army, not air force). I would say it wouldn't be worth reading the sequel without having read the original book. There are a lot of references to the first book and anyway, unless you've read the original, I don't think you would buy in to the people in the book, and want to find out what happened to them. Having said that, although I felt the book wandered a little to start with (as did Robert Mason's life) it gradually became more compelling and even although you know the outcome, it is very interesting to read about his journey. It's especially fascinating if you write, because it describes in detail the process of him writing the original Chickenhawk, and the problems he had getting it published. I would give it 4\5 stars.
The original Chickenhawk is a mindblowing warts-and-all account of Robert Mason's time in Vietnam as an US Army helicopter pilot. As well as being technical enough for the reader to understand how to fly a helicopter, it also gives the impression that it would take an enormous amount of skill and bravery to fly one, especially in combat conditions. But it wouldn't be fair to leave the impression that this was a gung-ho war book. It is pretty balanced considering, and shows the futility and unnecessary suffering that the Vietnam war epitomised and it eloquently leaves you reeling at the toll it had on civilians, soldiers, the North Vietnamese and not least, the pilots. Some of the descriptions of flying, and the details about attacks and rescues are WTF moments, but equally, the life around camp and the country and the people are just as fascinating. Even if you aren't at all interested in the war in Vietnam, it's still worth reading. There's a lot of humanity and candour in the book, and it's honesty shines through. I would give this a definite 5/5. PS If you don't want to have a go at flying a helicopter after reading it, there's something wrong with you!