Back in the World: Chickenhawk's Life after Vietnam

Back in the World: Chickenhawk's Life after Vietnam

by Robert C. Mason

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This affecting sequel to Chickenhawk , a 1983 memoir of Vietnam, covers Mason's postwar life and his struggle with the classic symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder: overwhelming restlessness, panic attacks and inability to hold a job. After finding relief in writing about his tour as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam, he then took a major misstep by joining a drug-smuggling venture that involved a sailboat voyage across the Caribbean. Caught by U.S. customs authorities, Mason found himself facing the shame of trial and the terror of prison. During this critical period, he received the news that Viking had accepted the book in hand for publication. Thus: ``While I was experiencing the highest moment of my life, I was also experiencing the lowest moment of my life.'' Mason has a powerful personal tale that should have wide appeal. His account of the smuggling misadventure and his imprisonment in Florida are searing. (Mar.)
John Mort
Mason's first book, "Chickenhawk" (1983), portrayed combat helicopter sorties with such visceral detail that it quickly established itself as one of the five or six best memoirs of the Vietnam War. This sequel is an autobiography covering the years 1966 through 1992, during which time Mason fought off alcoholism and drug dependency and struggled to provide for himself and his family with a number of crazy schemes. As the 1970s ended he was flat broke and decided to write about his war experiences. Then he despaired of publication and embarked to Columbia on a marijuana-smuggling mission, a voyage he renders here in epic detail. Mason was intercepted in South Carolina just at the point of delivery and incarcerated for two years: his prison scenes are sheepish and amusing. At that worst moment of his life, when Mason thought he had unpardonably embarrassed his long-suffering parents and feared he might lose his aptly named wife, Patience, "Chickenhawk" sold and Mason became a celebrity. While the woes of Vietnam veterans are, perversely, a sort of promotional item here, Mason's troubles seem to be those of any ne'er-do-well, and his book falls in the tradition of many another American tale of rags to riches. In the end, he is "just like everybody else. Back in the world." So his is a song of gratitude: wild, optimistic, and quite charming.

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Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
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1.00(w) x 1.00(h) x 1.00(d)

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