THE BLACK SHEEP by Bruce Gamble

THE BLACK SHEEP

The Definitive Account of Marine Fighting Squadron 214 in World War II
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KIRKUS REVIEW

An occasionally winning look at one of the most famous Marine fighter squadrons of WWII and the subject of the classic TV series Baa Baa Black Sheep. Covering Marine Fighting Squadron 214’s actions and movements throughout the Pacific theater in WWII, Gamble, a retired naval officer, jumps chaotically between mind-numbing minutiae and hilarious anecdotes. He covers such important topics as the quest for reliable aircraft and parts, the search for and downing of Admiral Yamamoto’s aircraft (he was the mastermind of the attack on Pearl Harbor), and, less crucially, methods for keeping a beer chilled in WWII-era aircraft. Beginning with the formation of the squadron in the early days of the war, the author covers the training and recruitment of the force and continues even after the group is dispersed and various members captured or killed. The key members of the squadron, including the now-famous “Pappy— Boyington, are well enough described but don’t come across as multifaceted characters. Gamble has a good ability for describing the aerial actions of the squadron, so it’s unfortunate that his writing has a tendency toward the melodramatic; and with chapter titles such as “First Blood” and “The Bullets Fly” and “Black Sheep Scattered,” it will be no surprise that the prose is rather clichÇ-ridden and predictable. However, there can be no faulting his use of sources, and the book includes appendixes reprinting all manner of documents and materials. Gamble has written a good, well-researched history of an important group in American military history, but one that is too drably written to appeal to any but the specialist. (43 b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-89141-644-7
Page count: 496pp
Publisher: Presidio/Random
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1998