The Pilots by Jim Spenser

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Synopsis

Apart from sex, flying was the most exciting thing I'd run across in my twenty years on this planet.

James Spencer flew B-24 bombers over New Guinea, Borneo, and the Philippines during 1944 and 1945, and it was only decades later that he began to write about it, combining the literal truth as he remembered it with imagination based on all that he'd seen and heard.

The extraordinary result is The Pilots, a novel-in-stories about a group of young men, their comrades, and girlfriends, as they evolve in often unpredictable ways during the last years of the war: Blake Hurlingame and Steve Larkin, boyhood friends who take different paths into fighters and bombers; Doc, the flight surgeon, battling combat fatigue; Courtenay, the captain whose arrogant bluster masks hidden demons; and Addie, the woman who will leave her mark on them all.

These are stories alive with the senses, filled with the smell of hot oil and burnt rubber; the sight of green jungle and backlit clouds like vast sculptured monuments; the feeling of a plane warming up, trembling like a bird eager to be in flight. Several excerpts have already appeared in magazines; now the work itself makes a wholly remarkable debut.
 

About Jim Spenser

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James Spencer earned the Distinguished Flying Cross and three Air Medals, among other honors in the Pacific. Four of these stories have appeared in The Ontario Reviewand The South Dakota Review, and his short stories, poems, and plays have also appeared in more than forty other magazines and collections, including The Best American Short Stories 1999, edited by Amy Tan.
 
Published February 10, 2003 by Putnam Adult. 288 pages
Genres: History, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, War, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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In l944, then, 20-year-old Lieutenant Larkin was living his dream—jockeying his beloved P-38 Lightning all over New Guinea and points south, protecting B-24 bombers, dog-fighting Japanese Zeroes.

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Publishers Weekly

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after the villagers release him, Steve concludes simply ""it was odd that he didn't feel more enthusiastic about being rescued."" Heroism is about staying alive, but the unit physician, Doc, is so solicitous of his men as to become hopelessly delusional, believing he must save them from sini...

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