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In Rolling Thunder, the time is late 1965 and 1966 in war zone places such as Saigon, Hanoi, Bien Hoa, Da Nang, and Tahkli. While back in Washington, LBJ sits over lunch and personally picks bombing targets in an attempt to fight a limited war. In Vietnam the war knows no limits.
There, as the hostilities escalate, the fates of three men intertwine: USAF Captain Court Bannister, overshadowed by a famous movie star father who fought in WWII as a B-17 gunner, driven to confront missiles, MiGs, and nerve-grinding bombing raids in order to prove his worth to his comrades -- and to himself...Air Force First Lieutenant Toby Parker, fresh from the States, who hooks up with an intelligence unit for a lark, and quickly finds his innocence buried away by the lessons of war...and Special Forces Major Wolf Lochert, who ventures deep into the jungle to rescue a downed pilot -- only to discover a face of the enemy for which he is unprepared.
Four airline stewardesses, who fly the civilian MAC contract flights that bring American soldiers to and from the war zone in Vietnam, have difficult love affairs with G.I.s and fighter pilots. After one flight they come under attack while on an airbase in Vietnam.
Young American G.I.s are cursed and taunted as they return to the United States.
Through their eyes and those of many others -- pilots, soldiers, lovers, enemy agents, commanders, politicians, and profiteers -- Rolling Thunder shows us Vietnam as few other books have, or can. Berent captures all the intensity and drama of that searing war, and more, penetrates to the heart and soul of those who fought it. Rolling Thunder rings with authenticity.
You are there - in the cockpit!
By Gerald Alwyne Gooderhamon January 4, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is simply outstanding for its accuracy authenticity and descriptive text. It had to be written by a pilot and a pilot who saw combat. Absolutely brilliantly written - I strongly recommend it to any reader who wants to 'feel' the inside of a cockpit and the responsibility and commitment that supporting troops on the ground entails. Mark Berent's familiarity with the areas of Vietnam over which the action takes place, each with their strategic differences and challenges, and the very real players reflecting those who served in Vietnam, places the reader in a privileged position. Interestingly the book also deals with the very real factors of the inexperienced meddling of the 'civilian' element and the sometimes tedious chain of command laced with non combatants. I read this book with feeling as I was also a FAC/AOP pilot in S E Asia in the '60's in the British Army Air Corps and although I did not experience anywhere close to Mark Berent,s level of action, I did recognize with surprise common aspects mentioned in Mark's book; many of the S.O.P.'s of skilled 'defensive' flying, operating several radios between ground, air and base, while coordinating the artillery, fighters and bombers over target - and the subsequent overfly for assessment of damage - and seriously miffed enemy survivors!!
Exciting and Educational read
By John Podlaski, Author of Cherries - A Vietnam War Novelon January 20, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Mark Berent's book, Rolling Thunder not only tells a war story, but educates readers who are not familiar with the terminology and routines of pilots during the Vietnam War. I learned a lot and thoroughly enjoyed this story in which the author follows the adventures of three strangers, soldiers who cross paths on several occasions during their tours and eventually become friends: An Air Force captain and fighter pilot, an Air Force administrative lieutenant and an Army Special Forces Major. Their lives become intertwined in the story - at one time, all three are fighting for their lives in the same battle against an overwhelming enemy, but in different roles. It is early in the war and the military is fighting with their hands tied behind their back, the White House (the president and aides / civilians) are calling the shots: picking targets, identifying others that are strictly off limits and choose not to consider or approving targets recommended by the military. After all, The United States Government is afraid of drawing China and Russia into the conflict, thereby, taking a rather conservative stance in the war, angering those who take on the missions, placing themselves in harms way.
Each story line is filled with adventure and hold your breath suspense. The Lieutenant's character surprises me the most. seemingly having all the ups and downs during his tour. He falls in love with a local girl, then one night on the streets of Saigon, she saves him from the clutches of the VC. He sees her again several weeks later, but only as a witness to her murder when the base perimeter is attacked and breached by the enemy. He has it in his blood to fly...he experiences terror in the cockpit...he becomes a hero!
Court Bannister, fighter pilot, is the son of a famous movie star...he has much to prove to his peers in Vietnam who think he got to where he is because of his father's influence. It doesn't take long to prove his worth! However, on one of his first missions, Courts' wing man is killed because of pilot error. The pilot's father, a general at the Pentagon, and Courts current commanding officer both blame the Captain for his wing-man's death. The father, eventually goes so far as to get Court transferred from his current job of flying support for infantry units in the Delta and III Corps to bombing runs in North Vietnam - the most contested airspace of the war, losing an average of five planes / pilots per week.
The Green Beret is a fighting machine and appears to return from the dead - twice during the story. Wolf is a skilled warrior, leading teams to find and rescue downed pilots before the enemy can take him prisoner. However, his tour ends before he is able to complete some unfinished business. The major is set-up by a double agent on his last mission...both survived and both seek revenge upon the other. I'm certain that all three stories will continue in Mr. Berent's next book when the three military officers return to Vietnam for a second tour. A most enjoyable read and highly recommended to all.
Great job Mark! Welcome Home Brother!
John Podlaski, author
Cherries - A Vietnam War Novel