Chamberlain, a retired Air Force brigadier general, writes crisply about action, with a certain you-are-there competence and authentic dialogue. His stories center upon men under stress; old war dogs and green recruits, cowards, brave men and neurasthenics; and the settings are from the European, Pacific and Korean theatres of war. Paradoxically, Chamberlain's methods smack of Maugham and Conrad and reflections in an armchair at the Retired Officers Club. ""Japanese--you could smell them! Their screams were in our ears, and their bayonets were darned near in our bellies when a wicked burst of Tommy-gun fire ripped in from the flank, and the leading Japanese went down. More of them kept coming. They went down too."" In ""Reluctant Hero"" a lieutenant refuses the Silver Star just as it's about to be pinned on him. The reason: he was the son of a famous Army officer but had once been psychoed out of the service. One night, he paid a soldier $50 to let him take his place on an overseas shipment; that is, he bought his way into the Army. When the decoration was offered, he refused it because the man he was impersonating was such a deadbeat that it would sully the decoration. By gad, sir, what do you make of that!