DAUNTLESS by Barrett Tillman


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The 50th anniversary of WW II will undoubtedly unleash a spate of books over the next few years, and this fictionalized version of the crucial Battle of Midway in the summer of 1942 is in the vanguard. Turning back the Japanese at Midway was the first indication that the US could survive the Pacific onslaught, and thus was arguably a major turning point in the war. Tillman (Warriors, 1990) shows clearly how the advent of the SBD-3 Dauntless dive bombers played a large part in this crucial face-off. But there's also that familiar flaw of war novels--a clichÉd cast. They're all here: the scared but spunky young pilots who turn out to have the ""fight stuff""; the grizzled engineers and mechanics who can patch together planes and ships no matter what the enemy throws at them; the good old boys who don't let military rank separate them from their native charm; the plucky girls they left behind. There is even an almost likable Japanese flier who's a big fan of Carmen Miranda's, just to humanize the enemy a bit. The focus here is on Lt. Phil (Buck) Rogers, lovely librarian Sallyann Downey (who learns that sometimes the enemy wears a US uniform when she is almost raped), and a host of other good men, both fictional and real, who turned back the Japanese and changed the course of the war. Tillman's training and experience assure verisimilitude in both history and technical details, to be sure--but the strangely uninvolving fashion in which he tells his tale makes this one for dedicated aviation-war buffs.

Pub Date: May 15th, 1992
Page count: 432pp
Publisher: Bantam