A noble, thrillingly realized combat aviation memoir from one of America’s finest.

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TOPGUN

AN AMERICAN STORY

A seasoned airman shares his legacy as a Navy fighter pilot.

Pedersen, a distinguished military veteran known as the “Godfather of Topgun,” is credited with establishing the Navy Fighter Weapons School. His memoir, a collection of captivating, action-packed anecdotes and pivotal events in his naval career, moves briskly through time spent with committed men dedicated to their “monastic calling.” The author enlisted in 1956, and he covers his early years before moving into tales of Vietnam. As mounting losses and ineffective artillery, tactics, and leadership weakened America’s defensive strategies in the 1960s, Pedersen recalls craving a fresh master plan to even the odds. Recognizing Pedersen’s excellence in aerial gunnery and overall flight and defensive precision, the Navy selected him, then stationed at Miramar, California (“Fightertown USA”), to head up an air combat graduate school featuring eight other passionate and talented officers known as the “Original Bros.” In describing the founding days of Topgun, the author details his selection of veteran pilots and a procedural curriculum to utilize the new MiG fighter jets. He also highlights the toll their call of duty took on marriages and families; regrets aside, “for us, flying always came first.” Throughout the book, Pedersen ably conveys the immense camaraderie among the courageous brotherhood of American fighter pilots and conjures the excitement of daring aerial combat and weaponry maneuvers. He proudly notes that, at its 50th anniversary, the Topgun course remains the standard of excellence for providing air combat and weapons systems training. With the hot-seat velocity and cockpit realism of a military combat thriller, the author delivers exacting details and emotional acuity. Now 83, he admits to still experiencing the same visceral rush when seeing fighter aircraft zooming overhead as he did when he was a wartime naval aviator: “I can’t fly anymore,” he writes, “but my heart is still up there.” Pedersen also includes a helpful glossary of terms and acronyms.

A noble, thrillingly realized combat aviation memoir from one of America’s finest.

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-41626-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Hachette

Review Posted Online: Jan. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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