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Paperback The Hunters Book

ISBN: 1619020548

ISBN13: 9781619020542

The Hunters

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Book Overview

Captain Cleve Connell has already made a name for himself among pilots when he arrives in Korea during the war there to fly the newly operational F-86 fighters against the Soviet MIGs. His goal, like that of every fighter pilot, is to chalk up enough kills to become an ace. But things do not turn out as expected. Mission after mission proves fruitless, and Connell finds his ability and his stomach for combat questioned by his fellow airmen: the brash...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Persistent Images

I read "Hunters" a year ago and am currently reading "Cassada", Salter's other flying novel. As good as his writing is, and as gripping the situations he describes, what earns this book 5 stars is the way Salter's images persist in the mind. They are so crisp and seem so right that you can't shake them. I'll never fly an F-86, but I think I've got a good idea what the view from up there would have been like. Highly recommended.

Psychological study of men at war

Much has already been said here about the precision of Salter's crisp, clean style. It's Hemingway over ice with a splash of bitters. If you love language, you will read every word. Much also has been said about this book as an accurate portrayal of flying and a great novel of warfare. What I would add to all that is how "The Hunters" is a fascinating account of the dynamics within a group of highly trained men who engage in a high-risk occupation. The central character Cleve begins the novel as a well respected flyer, a cut above the rest, and admired by the less experienced men around him. Fiercely independent and reserved, he has a somewhat aloof personal style that makes him all the more respected and even idolized.Enter a younger, hotshot flyer, brash and egotistical, the opposite of Cleve in every respect -- and, we are led to believe, somewhat less than honorable -- who quickly establishes himself as an equal to Cleve, determined to be seen by the commanding officers as superior. The rest of the novel is a psychological study of "grace under pressure" and the eventual failure of Cleve to maintain his position in this hierarchy of men, where the respect of others is the reason for being.This drama of the individual against a closed social order that first praises and then abandons him is compelling from beginning to end. I recommend the book not only to readers looking for well-written accounts of air warfare. Its nuanced portrayal of the shifting dynamics among men in an all-male setting makes it excellent material for gender studies, as well. For another Salter book that picks up some of these same themes and writes about them just as eloquently, read his novel "Solo Faces."

Mig Alley Ace

James Salter quit fighting MIGS and left the Air Force to write `The Hunters', a novel set during the Korean War. The writer's authority breaths life into every sentence and the authenticity of his story is irrefutable. That's not the reason for recommending it however. This book should be read because it is that rare gem, an ambitious war novel that is literary without being pretentious. Originally written in 1956 and out of print for 40 years, it stands the test of time on a par with Remarque's `All Quiet on the Western Front' or Heller's `Catch-22'.`The Hunters' chronicles Cleve Saville's quest to become an ace. He goes to war for the first time as an experienced pilot at the age of 35. Being a good pilot isn't enough to absolve him of self-doubt as he struggles with the issues of command, mortality and situational ethics. Fighting MIGS is easy compared to fighting time. And like all heros, Cleve has an Achilles Heel that can get him killed in the blink of an eye. While Cleve confronts existential issues familiar to any Hemingway hero, this is not a book about doing the right thing despite the consequences. It's a story about how men refuse to acknowledge alternatives. Ahab must find the white whale.Cleve pursues his Moby, a MIG Driver known as Casey Jones, across the skies of Korea. There is plenty of jet combat and the climactic duel is exciting and well rendered, but `The Hunters' is hardly a techno-thriller a la Clancy. While Clancy is Mr. Outside, constantly relaying hardware speeds and feeds, Salter writes from the inside out. For example, we know precisely what Cleve is seeing, hearing and thinking, but Salter never identifies the aircraft Cleve is flying (it's an F-86 Sabre, natch). Salter's streamlined prose compares favorably to Hemingway. He is as austere with his words as an Emil (ME-109E) pilot husbanding cannon ammunition. Precision and efficiency are the keys to his success. The book is written so smoothly that I was tempted to read my 1958 Bantam paperback edition (184 taut pages) in one sitting. If you feel similarly compelled, I suggest making a second pass to appreciate the nuances missed while skimming the surface. Salter camouflages his craft adroitly. Your observations and enjoyment will be much more acute at open cockpit speeds. Pre-avionics, pre-missile, jet combat over Korea has more in common with biplane duels than the massive air sieges of the Second World War. The distance from the Somme to the Yalu is less than you might think. Small numbers of aircraft employ a new technology (turbine engines) to contest the skies over fixed boundary lines. From a fighter pilot's perspective, Korea feels closer to Lanoe Hawker and Douai than Curtis LeMay and Douhet. Heck, both wars were even trench bound. Not surprisingly then, when reading `The Hunters' two novels depicting aerial combat in the First World War spring to mind: Ernest K. Gann's `In the Company of Eagles' and Jack D. Hunter's `The Blue Max' (1965). Combat is the st

A Timeless Classic That Stands Alone in Aviation Literature

I am re-reading The Hunters by James Salter for about the fourth or fifth time, and continue to be amazed at its density and subtlety, and the truth of its story. Almost nothing in the history of air warfare has been written that compares with it for quality or maturity. It is the best psychological profile on the character of the fighter pilot and especially the mammoth ego of the fighter ace, ie, one who can claim 5 or more victories in aerial combat. Readers may want to compare The Hunters with Salter's more recent memoir Burning The Days, since the latter book includes the non-fiction story of Salter's own F-86 Sabre tour in Korea in an equally evocative way, but written more than 40 years after the event. The Hunters is an essential read for anyone interested in the history of air warfare, the Korean War, and the personality of the fighter pilot. It is an excellent work of high literary standards, that foreshadowed the achievements of Salter's non-aviation books that came later.

Realistic, precise, beautifully written.

"The Hunters:" What is your ambition?I read "The Hunters" reluctantly after one of my best friends urged me to for several months. Having been a pilot in the military for much of my life, and also being the son of a Korean war aviator, I simply wasn't ready to waste time on another mediocre war novel about a subject and an experience that that could never really escape my psyche. How could I have been so wrong......Salter's novel examines the fundamental issue of one man's life- the very reason we live and what we hope to be remembered for. Simply and beautifully phrased by Eiko, a Japanese girl befriended by the lead character, Cleve Connell, that issue is: "What is your ambition?" Connell's response, developed over pages 132-135, will twist the heart of any person who has ever been obsessed with an irrational dream, a mission in life, an ambition:'There was a long pause. They lay in the cool grass, side by side, unwilling to do anything that might change it. "What is your ambition?" she asked after a while.Cleve closed his eyes. There had been many ambitions, all of them true at the time. They were scattered behind him like the ashes of old campfires, though he had warmed himself at every one of them. Now an ambition had been forced on him, but he hesitated. The innocence of a girl could have no values by which to judge him. What's your ambition?"Well, here (Korea, during the war) is this place where the fighter pilots live, and if you shoot down five planes you join a group, a core of heroes. Nothing less can do it.""You've done that?""Oh, no. I've shot down one.""A man like yourself, perhaps," she said."I hope so. I hope it was no frightened boy. I want this to be the end, anyway. And when you make your last appearance, before whatever audience you have, you want it to be your real performance, to say, somehow, remember me for this." "The Hunters & ! quot; is a fine piece of literature, and a sad and moving story about one man's ambition, offset clearly by the realities of war and human imperfection. I can't think of a more realistic, precise, and beautifully written novel that I have read in a long time.
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