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Search tags: mass-market-paperbacks
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review 2018-10-26 07:08
'QUEEN OF THE FLAT-TOPS' OFFERS UNIQUE YOU-ARE-THERE VIEW OF WAR
Queen of the Flat-Tops - Stanley Johnston

The U.S.S. Lexington (aka "the Lady Lex") was one of the earliest aircraft carriers. Originally designed as a battlecruiser, it entered service with the U.S. Navy in 1925 and helped to usher in a new type of naval warfare. 

Here in "QUEEN OF THE FLAT-TOPS", Stanley Johnston, a journalist who was assigned to the Lexington in the earliest days of World War II in the Pacific, shares with the reader his experiences aboard her (based in large part on what he observed, as well as on interviews he had with various members of the crew - officers, pilots, and enlisted men) from the time the Lady Lex left Pearl Harbor to its final days in May 1942 during the Battle of the Coral Sea. This battle was in unique in that it was the first naval battle in history in which the opposing ships never fired on each other, whose outcome was wholly dependent on the weight and might of air power. 

Originally published in the latter half of 1942, "QUEEN OF THE FLAT-TOPS" offers to the reader a vicarious you-are-there perspective of life aboard an American aircraft carrier at a time when odds were heavily stacked against the U.S. Navy in the Pacific War.
 

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review 2018-10-15 16:15
BRIONNE - Louis L'Amour

Here's a tight, well-written story of a man (Major James Brionne, formerly of the U.S. Army) whose home in Virginia was torched and his wife killed by a gang set on destroying him because of his previous work which led to the arrest, trial, conviction, and hanging of the murderer Dave Allard.

The time is the early 1870s. Brionne with his son Mat (who had barely managed to escape the clutches of the Allard Gang in Virginia) make their way out west to Utah Territory to eke out a new life there in the desert landscape. There they are tracked down by the Allards and the outcome is not without its thrills and chills.

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review 2018-10-15 15:47
BRIONNE - Louis L'Amour

A very compelling and eloquent account by Iris Origo which conveys both the tempo and temper of life that existed in Italy as she went from being a sometimes uneasy German ally and neutral to a full-fledged co-belligerent with Germany after June 10, 1940. The diary begins on March 27, 1939 and ends on July 23, 1940.

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review 2018-09-15 02:23
FROM CLIPPED WINGS TO SOARING WITH THE EAGLES
Best Foot Forward - Colin Hodgkinson

"BEST FOOT FORWARD" is Colin Hodgkinson's story of the long struggle he waged after surviving an air crash while in training with the Fleet Air Arm in May 1939 -- and sustaining life-altering injuries that would have humbled a lesser person --- to resume as normal a life as possible. As part of this process, Hodgkinson --- with the great Royal Air Force (RAF) fighter ace and Wing Leader Douglas Bader (who, despite having similar life-altering injuries, was able to resume flying with the RAF upon the outbreak of war in September 1939) as a prime example and inspiration --- was given the opportunity to resume flight training with the Fleet Air Arm. 

Subsequently, Hodgkinson was able to wrangle a transfer to the RAF, where he successfully completed a rigorous flight training program, and was assigned to a frontline fighter squadron late in 1942. 

Hodgkinson would fly the redoubtable Supermarine Spitfire in combat over Europe through most of 1943, manage to shoot down 2 enemy fighters in aerial combat, and survive a stint as a prisoner of war before being repatriated to the UK in late 1944. This book is essentially a recapitulation of Hodgkinson's life from a childhood in the English countryside to the early postwar years. It has both a forthrightness and eloquence which makes for rewarding reading.

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review 2018-03-21 01:40
SCANDAL IN WASHINGTON DC (1923)
Our Man In Washington - Roy Hoopes

"OUR MAN IN WASHINGTON" is one of those novels that blends reality with fiction so well that the reader won't be altogether sure of up from down, much less left from right. 

The story begins in Baltimore, Maryland during the spring of 1923. James M. Cain, a journalist and aspiring writer (who had done some work for the Baltimore Sun on labor issues), makes the acquaintance of the famous journalist, satirist, and cultural critic H.L. Mencken. Cain is hoping to get a job working for Mencken, who is rumored to be at work in creating a national journal that would bring together several of the nation's finest writers to contribute stories emblematic of the country's cultural values and lifestyles. Both men decide to collaborate on a book that would lay bare the rumors of scandal and corruption in the Harding Administration (i.e. graft, bootlegging, sex, and murder). 

In the process, Cain and Mencken spend the whole of the spring and most of the summer of 1923 investigating leads both in Washington and Baltimore, as well as becoming acquainted with some of the principal characters in, near or out of government who would later go down in infamy as the truth began to emerge about some of the scandals associated with the Harding White House. Both men also are able to have arranged for them separate off-the-record interviews with both President Harding and his wife (aka 'The Duchess'). 

There is a lot more to "OUR MAN IN WASHINGTON" than being both a thriller and a mystery novel. There is passion, subterfuge, and in Gaston B. Means, a real-life shady private-eye/fraudster/thief/confidence man who made this book even more compelling. And I must admit that the book's cover art captures perfectly the spirit and essence of early 1920s America with images of Warren G. Harding, Mencken, Nan Britton (President Harding's mistress who is said to have borne his daughter), Teapot Dome, and the presidential seal --- with the front page of the Sunday, May 7, 1922 issue of The Washington Post serving as backdrop. Anyone who enjoys a political thriller with the elements of a mystery novel will enjoy reading this book.
 

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