Mark Berent’s 5-book Wings of War series is more than well-worth reading. It is historical fiction of the air war over Vietnam, although there is significant ground action included, which makes sense since the two are not unrelated. The fictional stories are told in very real historical settings, and are advertised as “historical novels of war and politics.” Mr. Berent knows of which he writes, having served as a pilot in three Southeast Asia tours to include 452 combat sorties.
The vivid encounters told with an engaging writing style draw the reader on and on. The first in the series is Storm Flight, and I would encourage reading them in order of publication since they each build upon the previous books. You can view the whole series along with additional information at amazon.com/Mark-Berent/e/B000APP91A.
As expected due to the armed forces context, the pages are full of military jargon, tactics, and narratives. (A helpful addendum to each volume is a glossary of terms/acronyms used.) Yet what dominates are the real-to-life characters and how the war impacted their lives. Reading Berent, one learns of the tremendous and unnecessary toll the war took on the lives of those who flew.
The “politics” portion of the series reveals why the toll of U.S. airmen was so high. Armchair strategists – most of which had not one wit of military training or experience, LBJ being the foremost – called the shots that resulted in over 3,000 airmen shot down, not including helicopter crews. Reading the Wings of War series makes it clear that MANY of these could have been prevented if the politicians who demanded to directed traffic had had any idea what they were doing.
For anyone with an interest in what the air war over Vietnam was like (and the ridiculous Washington beltway strategies with which it was pursued), you won’t find a better account than these five books.