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4.7 52
by Robert Mason

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A true, bestselling story from the battlefield that faithfully portrays the horror, the madness, and the trauma of the Vietnam War
More than half a million copies of Chickenhawk have been sold since it was first published in 1983. Now with a new afterword by the author and photographs taken by him during the conflict, this


A true, bestselling story from the battlefield that faithfully portrays the horror, the madness, and the trauma of the Vietnam War
More than half a million copies of Chickenhawk have been sold since it was first published in 1983. Now with a new afterword by the author and photographs taken by him during the conflict, this straight-from-the-shoulder account tells the electrifying truth about the helicopter war in Vietnam. This is Robert Mason’s astounding personal story of men at war. A veteran of more than one thousand combat missions, Mason gives staggering descriptions that cut to the heart of the combat experience: the fear and belligerence, the quiet insights and raging madness, the lasting friendships and sudden death—the extreme emotions of a "chickenhawk" in constant danger.

"Very simply the best book so far about Vietnam." -St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Mason puts forth his firsthand account of more than 1000 helicopter missions in Vietnam. This edition of the best seller includes photos and a new afterword by the author. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
"Very simply the best book so far about Vietnam." -St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"[Chickenhawk]'s vertical plunge into the thickets of madness will stune readers." -Time

"Mason's gripping memoir . . . proves again that reality is more interesting, and often more terrifying, than fiction." -Los Angeles Times

"More than any other writer, Mason has been able to capture the feeling of what it was like to be there." -The Philadelphia Inquirer 

"A hypnotic narrative." -The New York Times

"Better than any movie about the war." -Boston Herald 

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Sold by:
Penguin Group
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File size:
3 MB
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Robert Mason was born in 1942 and grew up on farms in New Jersey and Florida. His boyhood dream of becoming a pilot was finally realized when he earned his private pilot's license prior to his graduation from high school. After studying at the University of Florida from 1960 to 1962 and then working at a variety of jobs for the next two years, he enlisted in the army in 1963. He flew more than 1,000 helicopter combat missions in Vietnam before being discharged in 1968. He is now best-known as the author of Chickenhawk, universally regarded as one of the best books on the Vietnam war and a classic memoir of soldiering.

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Chickenhawk 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 52 reviews.
TedMorgan More than 1 year ago
I have never had any desire to enter ground combat. I have read a few works about that experience. This is one of the best of them. I like Mason even better than I like Tim O'Brien, whose work very much impresses me. I want now to read more of his writing.I very much admire the later works. I do not usually like reading books about combat. I am glad not to have had to endure that experience and I am old now and not highly likely to endure it now. The writing is of a high order. The narrative is clear, persuasive, and engaging. Someone better than I am needs to review this work. I very highly recommend it.
Bernie-Weisz More than 1 year ago
This is a book that truly puts you in the cockpit of a 'Huey Gunship' helicopter during the early days of Vietnam. The Author takes you on a month by month tour of helicopter battle starting in August, 1965 and concludes with Mason's disillusionment with the war that would ultimately claim 65,000 American lives and Mason's paralyzing bouts with P.S.T.D., alcoholism and unemployment when he returns to civilian life. The story concludes with a part II called 'Chickenshack:Back In The World' where he descends into criminal activity and the life of a drug smuggler. Needless to say, it is interesting to note Mason's gradual change from an aqggressive pro-war 'hawk' 'supporting the war' to at the end of his tour having paralyzing anxiety of dying, P.S.T.D flashbacks 'thus labelling himself a 'chicken' and the title of this book'. Mason concludes with the question:'why don't the S.Vietnamese fight the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese like the VC and N.V.A. fight the S. Vietnamese'? Mason answers this by putting forth the assertion that without the support of our allies (the S.Vietnamese)the U.S. was going to (and ultimately did) lose the war. And if the S. Vietnamese didn't care, why were we there in the first place and continuing to fight an unwinnable war? Mason states that the people in Washington must have known this. The signs were too obvious:plans leaked to the V.C., reluctant combatants, mutinies in the ARVN (the S. Vietnamese Army), political corruption, S. Vietnamese marines at Danang fighting S.Vietnamese marines, and the ubiquitous Vietnamese idea that the North's leader, Ho Chi Minh would eventually win. Regardless, all these ideas are intertwined in a personal story chock full of raging madness of death, frightening extractions of wounded and dying men and combat experience. This is one book I will reread many times.
littlebears More than 1 year ago
This was a book that I couldn't put down until I finished. My uncle, Major Ed Behne, served from 1967-1970. Major Behne is the Vietnam War's second-most decorated army pilot, having received two Distinguished Flying Crosses, a Legion of Merit, a VN Cross of Gallantry with Silver Star and Palm, two Silver Stars, six Bronze Stars, VN Service Medal (9 campaigns), two Meritorious Unit Citations, and 80 Air Medals. He will always be my hero and an example of a True American. After I read this book I asked him if it was factual and he agreed it was. He passed away a few years ago and his death left a hole in my heart.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The author presents his view of a dirty war fought by men and women who were responsible soldiers and thought they were appropriately serving their country. The pilots unselfishly flew in extremely hazardous situations day and night trying to do their part in fighting this war. Not all who served experienced the same kind of trauma that troops serving today in the middle east experience. Most were fairly young,highly trained but inexperienced,and many had little moral character but served with pride even when their friends, neighbors, and country abandoned them in protest of the war.
Craig Walker More than 1 year ago
As a crewchief and gunner with the First Cavalry Division 1968 to 1970, Robert Mason offeres the experience of the war and the feelings of the troops about it as it was, accurately and without embellishments
Guest More than 1 year ago
A book that cannot be put down,however sad it may be. Mr. Mason is a soldiers soldier. His beginings were that of a chivalrous knight fighting the good fight in a troubled time. A time where being an American was not easily defined. An Army aviator is a special breed defined by Mason's character and narrated in minute detail. You can feel the pain he feels in the decisions he makes. This book puts you in the cockpit and at the basecamp. Whether you are in the military or not, if you have an interest in aviation, the military, or what it was like to be a soldier in one of the most troubled times in America, you need to read this book. The only down side is the ending.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After you read it you will understand the nature of air assault during the Vietnam War. Great read!
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Kingair350 More than 1 year ago
I am 75 year old aviation aficionado. My book interests tend toward fiction writers such as Grisham, Elmore Leonard and Carl Hiassen. But I love flying stuff. I first heard of Chickenhawk some years ago. It had many positive reviews back then. So when I saw it at Amazon nook, I grabbed it. Mason describes what to him was an ordinary part of his life in an extraordinary way. It's a very personal story about an area of life most of us have no clue about. For me, it added much 'meat' to those evening news shots of slicks and gunships whumping their way back and forth across the landscape of Viet Nam. Who was in those slicks, what they were facing, doing, saying every day is here in Mason's book. It is harrowing and terrifying to say the least. But Mason makes it all sound like being a taxi driver in the middle of Manhattan. I can see why so many military and commercial pilots are so passionate about this book. For non aviators this is no less an absorbing and exciting story of helicopter warfare. Facing real death or dismemberment every day is only part of the narrative. I was grateful to Mason to include the bonds of love formed between the crews, knowing your buddies were likely to be gone tomorrow. What spoke greatly of Manson's character was the revelations of his doubts of the necessity of the Viet Nam war and who ensured its existence. I recommend to anyone, especially if you watched the news back then.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful read about a true American hero.
a_basement_reader More than 1 year ago
Excellent book! . This is a firsthand no BS story about the helicopter war. I like it because Mason takes you with him on his flights.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Go to random acts res 10
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its lilly
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A shocking account of the Vietnam war through the eyes of an observation helicopter pilot. Those guys were absolutely fearless. A very good book and a worthwhile read.
owenstanley More than 1 year ago
This book is honest, eloquent, carefully written and evocative. I have thousands of books. This is - without a doubt - the best book I've ever read, now at least 25 times.
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Mitch Riley More than 1 year ago
I read this book before going off to army flight school. I enjoyed the authors total honesty. I have read everything I can get my hands on regarding army aviation and this is the only book where the author didn't constantly feel the need to tell you how cool or tough he is. Wish I could find more books like it.