ORDER OF BATTLE by Alfred Coppel


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Yup, war is hell. The action here concerns the dogfighting and in-fighting of fighter pilots based in England toward the end of World War II. The hero, Mark Devereaux, is a hard-bitten Hamlet who is exceptionally good at flying, screwing, buddying, and, ultimately, loving. His affair with Anne Charing, a sensitive English war widow, goes badly (but Devereaux is married anyway). After much daring, death, melodrama in the sky, Devereaux finds himself among infantrymen as ground director of air cover for his unit during the Big Invasion. All seems lost with German tanks about to overrun his position. Then Devereaux orders napalm. The result: the tanks stop, there is a spate of burning corpses (theirs and ours), and Devereaux is hospitalized with severe napalm burns. Ultimately, he goes off into the night with Anne in an MG. But the raison d'etre of the book is the napalm order. Perhaps Dow Chemical will pick it up but there's not much reason why anyone else would. It's just a short order of battle.

Pub Date: Sept. 11th, 1968
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace & World