Book review: Chickenhawk by Robert Mason


Robert Mason with a UH-1 Huey

I’ve recently become obsessed with the Vietnam war. The stories, the motives, the political conflicts, all the way down to what the soldiers wore. This all stemmed from a suggestion in a Facebook pilot’s group about reading a book written by a US army helicopter pilot who flew his entire military career in Vietnam. I began reading this book about a month ago and I’m just about to finish it. From the first page, I was hooked. Not because it started in the middle of some firefight, but because I was enthralled early on by how similar Robert Mason’s writing style is to mine. While he keeps to the point and keeps a very nice flow going, he also does an amazing job painting a picture in the reader’s mind of the scenery, situations, and emotions that he brings to live over the course of 358 pages.

Part of the reason I’ve been burning through this book so quickly, aside from the fact that I love the topic, is the fact that I bought it on google play and have been reading it entirely on my phone. It really makes it easy when I’m waiting for the shuttle or something and I can simply flip through a few pages here and there.

Mason was one of the lucky helicopter pilots to survive the war. Over 12,000 helicopters saw action in Vietnam. By the end of the US involvement, over 5,000 army helicopters were considered total losses. Anyone who knows anything about the conflict in Vietnam knows that it was absolutely devastating to the American forces, with the North Vietnamese forces using guerrilla warfare tactics in conjunction with their knowledge of the terrain. Mason tells an incredible montage of events he experienced over his time in the war. As a Huey pilot, he saw some of the most intense action while facing some of the greatest risks possible, and he portrays this beautifully, from the visits to sketchy bars and hotels in Saigon, to the most grueling of rescue missions. Overall, there is never a dull moment in this book, and I would recommend it to anyone, especially people who know little about the war since it brings about curiosity that drives the reader to do some of their own research and learning to get a better idea of the big picture.



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