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Rolling Thunder

Rolling Thunder

4.2 74
by Mark Berent

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Rolling Thunder is an historical novel about the decisive role politics played during the Vietnam War. Its characters range from men in the field to the Pentagon and the White House. Fighter pilots and Special Forces warriors try to do their best but are hampered by President Johnson, Secretary of Defense McNamara, and their staff members who despise the military.


Rolling Thunder is an historical novel about the decisive role politics played during the Vietnam War. Its characters range from men in the field to the Pentagon and the White House. Fighter pilots and Special Forces warriors try to do their best but are hampered by President Johnson, Secretary of Defense McNamara, and their staff members who despise the military. Only one aging USAF general, who fought in Korea and WWII, is on their side. His clashes with his Commander in Chief, Lyndon Johnson, are epic in proportion and startling in content.

In Rolling Thunder, the time is late 1965 and 1966 in war zone places such as Saigon, Hanoi, Bien Hoa, Da Nang, and Tahkli. While back in Washington, LBJ sits over lunch and personally picks bombing targets in an attempt to fight a limited war. In Vietnam the war knows no limits.

There, as the hostilities escalate, the fates of three men intertwine: USAF Captain Court Bannister, overshadowed by a famous movie star father who fought in WWII as a B-17 gunner, driven to confront missiles, MiGs, and nerve-grinding bombing raids in order to prove his worth to his comrades -- and to himself...Air Force First Lieutenant Toby Parker, fresh from the States, who hooks up with an intelligence unit for a lark, and quickly finds his innocence buried away by the lessons of war...and Special Forces Colonel Wolf Lochert, who ventures deep into the jungle to rescue a downed pilot -- only to discover a face of the enemy for which he is unprepared.

Four airline stewardesses, who fly the civilian MAC contract flights that bring American soldiers to and from the war zone in Vietnam, have difficult love affairs with G.I.s and fighter pilots. After one flight they come under attack while on an airbase in Vietnam.

Young American G.I.s are cursed and taunted as they return to the United States.

Through their eyes, and those of many others -- pilots, soldiers, lovers, enemy agents, commanders, politicians, profiteers -- Rolling Thunder shows us Vietnam as few other books have, or can. Berent captures all the intensity and drama of that searing war, and more, penetrates to the heart and soul of those who fought it. Rolling Thunder rings with authenticity

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Berent is a decorated Air Force pilot who served three tours in Vietnam. His first novel is essentially a series of vignettes and anecdotes loosely structured around the yearlong tours of duty of Air Force Captain Court Bannister and First Lieutenant Toby Parker, with a ground-force counterpoint in Special Forces Major Wolf Lochert. Principal villains are the Washington policy-makers who send men to die in a war they are not allowed to win. Within this intellectually unsophisticated black-and-white framework, however, Berent's laconic, jargon-rich narrative evokes moods eclipsed by later and more spectacular events. Set in the mid-'60s--the last stages of the professionals' war, when career soldiers were still able to believe in what they were doing--the story focuses on ground-support operations over the south of Vietnam. This was a war the Air Force had been unprepared for and was uninterested in fighting, a war of obsolescent fighter-bombers flown by men who had dreamed of becoming astronauts, and of the Forward Air Controllers, the daring FACs, who called them in on almost-invisible targets. Yet as the novel ends, its protagonists intend to return for another tour of duty, which has come to overshadow survival in their minds. Fortunate is the country, Berent tells readers, where such men wear its uniforms; may they never again be so betrayed. The message is no less powerful for being predictable. Literary Guild and Military Book Club alternates; author tour. (May)

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Mark Berent
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2 MB
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are Saying About This

Stephen Coonts
The fighter pilot's war -- you love it and hate it at the same time, and Mark Berent writes it that way.
W E. B. Griffin
Rolling Thunder is terrific -- a novel of exceptional authority that hits like a thunderclap. A decorated Vietnam pilot, Mark Berent knows planes and men and battle, and he whirls them around in a story of uncommon strength. I can't wait for the next book.

Meet the Author

MARK BERENT Lt Col Mark E. Berent, USAF (Ret), was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He attended Cretin High School in St. Paul, Minnesota and St. Thomas College. Later he graduated from Arizona State University under the Air Force Institute of Technology program with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering. Lt Col Berent began his Air Force career as an enlisted man, then progressed through the aviation cadet program. He attended pilot training at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi and then Laredo Air Force Base, Texas flying the T-6, T-28 and T-33 aircraft and then moved on to F-86s at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. He served on active duty for 23 years until retirement in 1974. He began his operational flying career in the F-86 and F-100 flying at various posts throughout the United States and Europe. He later served three combat tours, completing 452 combat sorties, first in the F-100 at Bien Hoa Air Base, South Vietnam, the F-4 at Ubon Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand, and then in Cambodia for two years to fly things with propellers on them and, through a fluke in communications timing, to personally run the air war for a few weeks. He has also served two tours at the United States Space and Missile System Organization (SAMSO) at Los Angeles, California working first in the Satellites Control Facility and later as a staff developmental engineer for the space shuttle. In his expansive career he has seen service as an Air Attaché to the United States Embassy, Phnom Penh, Cambodia and also as Chief of Test Control Branch at the Air Development and Test Center at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. He also served as an instructor at the Air Force's Squadron Officer School. During his flying career he has logged over 4300 hours of flying time, 1084 of those in combat missions in the F-100, F-4, C-47 and U-10 over North and South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. He has flown 30 different aircraft. His decorations include the Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with one oak leaf cluster, Bronze Star, Air Medal with twenty four oak leaf clusters, Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, Cambodian Divisional Medal, and numerous Vietnam Campaign ribbons. He completed jump school with the Special Forces at Bad Tolz, Germany. Later, he jumped with and was awarded Cambodian paratrooper wings. He also flew with and received Cambodian pilot wings. After leaving the Air Force he lived in Europe to establish and direct international operations for the sale of spares for combat aircraft. He has flown many foreign aircraft such as the Swedish Viggen and Royal Air Force Jaguar and Hawk. He also established Berent and Woods Inc, a firm that managed many aviation related activities. Over the years he had published numerous articles for such publications as Air Force Magazine and the Washington Times and for 18 years wrote a monthly pilot/reporter column for the Asian Defense Journal. Under the name Berent Sandberg he and Peter Sandberg collaborated on three novels. He now has five Vietnam air war flying novels in print, Rolling Thunder, Steel Tiger, Phantom Leader, Eagle Station, and Storm Flight. Berent states it is never too late for any endeavor: he published the first of his five books at age 58, ran his first Marathon at 59, bought a T-6 warbird and flew in airshows at 64, and rode in his first cattle roundup in Montana at 74. …………… "Powerful!" --- Publishers Weekly "The pride of the Air Force. The challenge of Vietnam." "A taut, exciting tale of good men in a bad war. Berent is the real thing." --- Tom Clancy "Rolling Thunder is terrific - a novel of exceptional authenticity that hits like a thunderclap. A decorated Vietnam pilot, Mark Berent knows planes and men and battle, and he whirls them around in a story of uncommon strength. I can't wait for his next book." --- W.E.B. Griffin, best-selling author of Brotherhood of War and The Corps "Mark Berent writes with great authority and utter realism, immersing the reader in his characters' every sensation and emotion." --- Dale Brown, best-selling author of Flight of the Old Dog and Silver Tower "The fighter pilot's war - you love it and hate it at the same time, and Mark Berent writes it that way." --- Stephen Coonts, best-selling author of Flight of the Intruder "Berent tells it like it was!" --- Chuck Yeager "The best Vietnam air novel I have read. Berent captures the essence of flying men at war, their agony, emotions, courage, and triumph." --- Brigadier General Robin Olds

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Rolling Thunder 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 74 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I flew in Viet Nam from 1966 to 1968 and from Thailand from 1973 to 1974. Mark's story took me back to the Tan Son Nhut Officers' Club and then to many of the myriad small bases in country. His familiarity with and use of the slang, acronyms, and crazy antics brought it all back to me. As for the reviewers who objected to the language and the almost total absence of questioning authority; there can be no explanation. Sorry gents, you just had to be there to understand. We were young warriors who lived a few days at a time. After 20+ years in the Air Force, two tours in SEA, over 6000 flight hours and nearly 800 combat hours, I can only thank Mark for making my pulse race again after these many years.....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Grew up in the 60's wow what a read,,,,, if profanity was a problem for you, please make it real....if you don't want reality, read the bible. I was a stew for AA in 1967, and brought THOUSANDS OF CASKETS Home via Travis . When will we learn to let the military experts run the war and not bean counters????
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read the story Rolling Thunder by Mark Berent. There were many positives to this story, but there were also a few negatives in the book.One positive to the book is it had a great storyline all throughout the book.I also liked that it was a longer fiction book that kept my interest from the turn of page one to the very end of the book. The negative that most clearly I did'nt like was the profanity that the book showed. There are three major characters in this book, Lieutenat Toby Parker and Captain Bannister both USAf pilots, and Major Lochert, a Special Forces member. This book is different from most fiction books I have read because it is written by a former USAF pilot who served in this war. I learned one important thing about this war ,it really wasn't fought by the soldiers in the field it was fought by high ranking civillian officials behind desks.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The author writes about what was REALLY join on back then. I lived it too and the narrative gave me some relief that I wasn't the only one who felt betrayed by our elected officials and those in certain commands.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As an Air Force Vietnam vet and former Braniff pilot, this book brings back a war that never should have been as seen through the eyes of the men and women who were there. We were supposed to learn a lesson from it but never did.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It opened my eyes about the Vietnam War. Read all the other books on the Vietnam War by Mark Berent. They were so good.
wellred1 More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The war in Vietnam was not something I knew much about, and this book didn't detail the ground troops war but was told from the viewpoint of the air war. It was a story told primarily about one tireless pilot and his triumphs and disappointments. It kept me reading late into the night because I didn't want to put it down!
DON40 More than 1 year ago
keeps you on the edge of your seat. I am enjoying this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This well written tail of the Viet Nam era conflict is hard to put down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mark's writing style is very much like Tom Clancy's. The multiple plot's hold your interest. I'm Now reading Phantom Leader by Berent as well !! - which continues the stories of the key characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. I found it to be an easy read. My favorite part of this book was during the dogfight with the MIG 19s. I found myself rereadind this part over again because it read like a movie streaming throught my mind. A very well written story. I could see that this is a storyteller's story. Thank you Mark Berent :-)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book finally gave me some insight into why we could'nt and didn't win. Great story telling from the other side. Sorry we didn't know you were shackled by our Commander and Chief. Shame on him and his spineless supporteomrs.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not bad for a flyboy
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Start of a great series. Fun look back at a not fun time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am not usually a reader on History. But, the writer brings the characters to life and gives them heart and soul. I cannot wait to get the next book to see how the characters survive after the Vietnam War and their personal tragedies. I can feel the thunder of the jets, the highs and lows of everyone - this is a must read.
woodySP More than 1 year ago
I don't like talking or reading of the Viet Nam experience but I found this book hard to put down. This story is smooth flowing and to read but more importantly Mark made me feel like I was part of that little portion of the war.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read! Enjoyed how Mark Berent described in detail the the flight of the aircraft. It was like being in the cockpit with the pilot. Looking forword to Steel Tigers!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Took me back to a place and a time I'd tried to forget
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent reflection of the Air Force operations in early Vietnam War. However, no mention was made of the BatCats---EC121--- and their intel inputs to 7/13 for strike preparations. Also, Col. James Jabara a F100 ace was lost on the way in USA while the F-100 deployment was underway from Homestead. Lots of accurate stuff; memories of Korat AB while I was there.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kept my attention, couldn't put it down
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I spent 50 years of my life in big-time NY publishing; with positions in marketing and editorial. I have published books by authors you all know. This is the best 5 novel series I have ever read. While these books are choc-o-bloc with military acronyms and jargon, one need not know anything about what they mean to enjoy them (though ex-military will love them). Read them in order, because each stands on it's own, there is a continuing thread that is wonderful. Book One)
Vampire06A More than 1 year ago
Mark did a great job on this book in introducing his characters for the series. Kept my interest going and was an easy read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I would highly recommend this book to anyone. I would definitely give it a five star rating. In fact I intend to continue reading Mark Berent's books.
landersonz More than 1 year ago
I'm hooked! I wasn't sure I'd like the book but wanted to know more about the Vietnam war. But I got hooked right away. Very interesting read but also lots of facts and political insights. Made me realize just how much Obama's war on Isis resembles all the problems we made in Vietnam. I'm on book 2 right now and ready to order #3
bob169 More than 1 year ago
...and now I know why it was free. The author seems to know his subject, but after so much repeated jargon I suddenly realized that the book could be trimmed to half its size and keep all of the same content. Was REALLY disappointed when the author had to stoop to the imagined cliche of returning vets being spit on "by dirty hippies." Yeah we get it, you saw "Rambo". This really cheapened the book for me in that the author was willing to blindly parrot some Urban Myth to gain some kind of sympathy for the vets. ...and now I know why it was free. Deleting.