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Despite the enthusiastic title, the Intrepid's story is no more epic than that of a dozen others. Yet after entering service in January 1944, it saw plenty of action, as this impassioned history shows. White, president of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, and former fighter pilot Gandt (Bogeys and Bandits) deliver a steady stream of nuts-and-bolts battle action. The war against Japan offered innumerable dogfights, invasion support and sea battles during which the carrier suffered terrible damage from torpedoes and kamikaze attacks. Decommissioned in 1947, it returned to service in 1954 after an extensive overhaul. Details of Cold War cruises lack the fireworks of war, but readers will find some interest in the ship's duties recovering early astronauts. The obsolescent Intrepid served off Vietnam during 1966-1968, losing many planes and pilots. The authors devote 50 pages to the surprisingly difficult process of turning the Intrepid into a popular New York City tourist site. Lowbrow military history, full of purple prose and overwrought, invented dialogue, but undemanding military buffs will enjoy it. Maps. (Sept. 30)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.