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Mark Berent's first two novels of three extraordinary men in the midst of the Vietnam conflict, Rolling Thunder and Steel Tiger, met with widespread critical acclaim. The New York Times Book Review called Rolling Thunder an "unusually arresting book" and named it one of its "Notable Books' of 1989. The Washington Post Book World praised Steel Tiger as "a real tour de force," calling Berent "an experienced warrior who can artfully spin gripping, compelling tales of his craft."
In Phantom Leader Berent, himself a highly decorated Air Force Pilot, once again captures the intensity of the most controversial war in modern history. Phantom Leader shows readers exactly what it was like to be a pilot caught between the immediate reality of death and the distant decisions of Washington.
It is January, 1968, and with the fury of the Tet offensive about to burst, Berent's courageous men find themselves at the very heart of the Vietnam War. As the Viet Cong attack in full force all over Vietnam, FAC pilot Toby Parker sees the North Vietnamese moving PT-76 tanks down the Ho Chi Minh Trail, but his attempt to acquire proof fails. Captured by the enemy then rescued by Green Berets, Parker finds himself trapped square in the middle of the tank attack at the Long Tri Special Forces outpost.
Major "Flak" Apple, the first black Air Force Fighter to be shot down in Vietnam, becomes a tortured prisoner in Hanoi's infamous Hoa Lo Prison.
USAF Major Court Bannister needs only one more shootdown to become an Ace but violations of the Rules of Engagement over North Vietnam force him to fly secret night missions over Laos, Bannister must make a decision that could make him Vietnam's first Ace -- or end his military career forever.
Special Forces Colonel Wolf Lochert settles accounts with an old enemy, only to meet an enemy he cannot defeat in battle.
General "Whitey" Whisenand stretches to protect the troops in the field while fighting a rear-guard action in Washington.
Both politics and inter-service rivalries add to the chaos at the front lines in Phantom Leader. This book brings us the reality of war through the authentic voices of those who fought in Vietnam – this story is a lasting tribute to every American who served his country in Vietnam.
--“Berent remains without peer in the battle zone.” Publishers weekly
--“This is Berent’s best work yet. Phantom Leader is loaded with exceptionally vivid combat action.” Richmond News Leader.
Mark describes warfare with it's ugliness!
By Tim Barryon January 31, 2015
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Mark Berent captures the ethos of warfare and the brotherhood of warriors. He captures the constant frustration of military personnel in the war run by politicians know as the "VietNam Conflict!" This was a war in which we won every battle, but lost the war due to ROE that put our service men and women in harms way, prevented them from executing a winning strategy, tied both hands behind their backs, gave every advantage to the enemy and directly and indirectly resulted in the deaths of many in our countries service. Read the book, feel the frustration and learn about this war that has so eluded the truth of this conflict.
One further note, and an important one: we did not lose the Tet Offensive. Tet was a resounding defeat of the VC and most importantly the NVA. We suffered from this breaking of a truce by North VietNam, but then, what would you expect of a communist country that lives by the LIE!
I would like to thank Mark Berent for writing these books
By Dan Westmoreland on December 20, 2014
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I am half way in to this and devoured the first two. I wish every American student over 16 could be required to read the books. Also every member of Congress and the POTUS and his staff; really every American should know these things. What a shameful way to run a war and treat our service people. I don't know where Mark ends this series. I could take over and write the account of our shameful performance in 1974 and 1975 after our troops were pulled out. I was there as a member of the US Defense Attache Office Air Force Division (USDAOAF). Most Americans know nothing of this effort except what they were told by CBS and other biased media. The South Vietnamese were worth helping. They were deathly afraid of the Communists. Johnson's fear of the Domino Theory was about all he was right about. Millions were murdered in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam when we cut and run. My wife is Vietnamese and I have encountered so many horror stories of the prisons and tortures after. This series of books may be the only really readable account of the action in the air and on the ground. The characters are well developed. In the real world the coincidence of overlapping adventures is very unlikely, but it served well to move it along and make events more understandable. I would like to thank Mark Berent for writing these books. I am at the age --and I bet he is too -- that the truth will be buried with us soon.