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Paperback Gods of Tin : The Flying Years Book

ISBN: 1593760795

ISBN13: 9781593760793

Gods of Tin : The Flying Years

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Book Overview

A singular life often circles around a singular moment, an occasion when one's life in the world is defined forever and the emotional vocabulary set. For the extraordinary writer James Salter, this moment was contained in the fighter planes over Korea where, during his young manhood, he flew more than one hundred missions. James Salter is considered one of America's greatest prose stylists. The Arm of Flesh (later revised and retitled Cassada ) and...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

A Poetic, Yet Brutal, Description of War and The Peace of Flying

Gods of Tin is a book divided into three parts roughly equating to the authors various service assignments within the Air Force. The first section covers his time from enlistment to his flight training and onto the time where he was ready to ship out to Korea. The second part is a partial journal of his time (100 missions) spent flying F-86 fighters over North Korea and China during the Korean War and the third part details life as a pilot in the European theater during the cold war. The author has a distinctive style of writing that gives you the feeling of being on his shoulder while the events are unfolding. There are short, brutal sentences while he is writing in the journal, which capture the time there wonderfully, as the time was spent living in short brutal bursts. His imagery is impossible to describe for us mere mortals and must be read to be appreciated. A sort of poetry in sentence form would be the closest I could come to a description that would do the author's writing any justice. My only complaint, if it can be called one, is that the book is small, containing a mere 170 pages. I could have gone on reading this for days, and yet it was over so quickly.

Salter was a real writer.

If you want real literature without fiction, this is it. Prentiss Davis Truckee, CA

Old Material Beautifully Integratred and Presented.

Having read some for the works from which this book takes much of its content I was prepared to be disappointed; however, Salter has woven the material into a much tighter and stronger work. It's clear that he looked back at the old material with improved writing skills and a more mature handling of the nature of warfare in the early days of the jets. He captures the isolation of these modern day knights of the air, the randomness of early aerial engagements in the first jet on jet conflict and one which was further complicated by the political restrictions which put the bases on the north side of the Yalu off limits. With the possible exception of the middle-east the Korean war probably marked the last engagement of large numbers of American aircraft in air to air combat over a small area. Highly recommended, especially for those who who have enjoyed his other works. Deserves a place on the bookshelf between Stranger to The Ground, Night Flight, Tom Wolfe's writings on flight and other literate classics on the challenge and characters in flying. For those wanting to know more about the why of the Korean air engagements Robert Cornan's "Boyd The Story of a Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Course of War" is most enlightening. Like Wind, Sand and Stars the book has a very broad appeal that is not limited to pilots. Great gift for someone who appreciates good writing.

A Wonderful Collection

This was my introduction to James Salter and it was the book that made me interested in his writing. One of the wonderful aspects about Gods is not simply that it contains Salters wonderful writing, but also that the editors have managed to collect the best pasages from a number of his books. After reading Cassada, Burning the Days and the Hunters, I returned to this volume and found that nearly every one of my favorite passages on flying (achieving competence or learning "equitation" as he puts it at one point) from these books appears in Gods. And a bonus are the excerpts from Salter's jounals as a fighter jock driving F-86s in combat in Korea: these sometimes read like poetry leaving an image that has the feel of a Turner watercolor -- a couple of colorful strokes that still give a strong sense of the energy and paradoxically tranquility of moments flying. Originally in Burning: "I will never see it again or, just this way all that is below. Some joys exist in retrospect, but not this, the serenity, the cities shining in detailed splendor."

Sun, stars, water and clouds

James Salter ranks among the finest writers in America, a stylist of extraordinary skill, and this new book about his F-86 flying experiences in Korea demonstrates his remarkable abilities. However seeming simple the basic act, writing well is as difficult as flying well, and flows from a lifetime of patient, humble practice and learning. The precision with which Salter puts words together, and the pleasure and satisfaction a reader derives from assimilating those words, transcend the subject matter and move to the sublime. Salter is a master craftsman who works with a deceptive effortlessness that distills essence and emotion into forms that drive directly to the point. Every reader who likes great writing will enjoy this book and will learn from it not just about the subject matter but about the art of literary composition. In other words, one need not be a pilot to enjoy Salter's work in this new book, assembled from material that is now half a century old. He does not clutter it up with unnecessary technicalities (flying jet fighters is complex). His book SOLO FACES (see my review) shows that he is a writer who can capture the heart of the matter and convey it to the reader's mind with lyrical literary skill. The production values of this book deserve mention: Shoemaker/Hoard is a relatively small Press who obviously lavish meticulous attention on their work, and it shows. Why "Sun, stars, water and clouds" as the title of this review? The words are taken from Salter's book, page 121, describing what the ancients claimed are the greatest things to be seen. What better place to see them than from a fighter cockpit?
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