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What disappointed you about The Hunter Killers?
I was looking forward to a history of the wild weasels, and instead I got a "fighter pilots" history of the Vietnam War with only brief stories from the weasels interspersed. Johnson, and McNamara bad, general's bad, some fighter pilots good.
Vietnam was a complicated war, and the treatment it was given in this books was cursory at best. Even more disappointing was the very brief story of the weasels. These were brave men who were struggling the technologies cutting edge. I wanted to see their story fleshed out more. For example, he retells the story of the first SAM kill by a weasel, and then as an after thought it was mentioned that only a few pilots from the first group of weasels in Vietnam successfully completed their tour. The story gives the impression that they've got the problem solved, and then afterwards you find out that there was a very low survival rate.
In summary, I wanted a history of the Wild Weasels, and not a history of the Vietnam War with some Weasel stories.
10 of 10 people found this review helpful
Any additional comments?
This is an excellent book for someone who has little or no previous knowledge of the Vietnam War in general or the Wild Weasel mission in particular. If you are well versed on those topics, you might be a bit let down. Easily half the book is devoted to historical background and explaining technical topics.The remainder are the 'war stories' (which is what I wanted to hear). I'm not at all saying that this is a bad book, it was just hamstrung a bit by all the background information, which may be helpful for most listeners--just not this one..
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?
I purchased this book to understand more about what it was like to be an American "Wild Weasel" pilot during the Vietnam war. I got that but what I also got was Dan Hampton's history of the Vietnam war which broke up the pace of the book with long descriptive chapters on the background to American involvement. Fine, yes, but I didn't buy the book for this. When Hampton keeps to the stories of the pilots and their combat with the SAM missile systems the pace is fast and exciting with great narration but when he breaks from that and starts another oh-so-long history lesson my mind began to wonder and I felt the urge to fast forward.
What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?
When the story stays with the pilot's and the EWO's the story is fast paced and frenetic.
Which character – as performed by John Pruden – was your favourite?
John Pruden's pilot conversations were very well drawn out. He has a great voice and one can imagine the American pilots talking to each other but what stood out and was really exciting was his depiction of the warning siren that sounds in a pilot's cockpit when an unfortunate fellow pilot has had to eject "BEER!BEER!BEER!"
Was The Hunter Killers worth the listening time?
Yes. Just fast forward the VERY long chapters on the history of the war.
This isn't just a history of the Wild Weasels, but includes wider explanation of the overall conflict and aspects of the air campaign. I had expected it to cover pretty much the Wild Weasel project only so while the information added context and the changes to the political environment in the US, it felt like the extra is there to pad out the Wild Weasel history.
Most of the information is useful (especially about the air war) and it doesn't shy from criticising poor political and military decision making in the US. And it will help remind even those with a broader understanding of what was occurring when. However some of it is patchy, can lack specific sources and makes sweeping statements about complex issues; describing the motivations of Churchill during WW2 as only focused on preserving the British empire or using the term 'rabble' to describe the Black Panthers are gross over simplifications and really jar compared to the thoroughness elsewhere.
Where it sticks to its subject it's a compassionate examination of the very brave and driven aviators who flew these missions. It doesn't present much from a Vietnamese perspective and there are very few Vietnamese sources, which is where the book could have done more.
It also includes a useful appendix which gives a concise history of the French and US involvement, as well as the Chinese and Russian influences between the end of the Second World War and the US escalation in Indochina.
The narrator misses some pronunciations, but otherwise does a creditable job with the text. Overall it's an interesting book, but not quite what it looks like from the blurb.