Thoughts of a Philosophical Fighter Pilot

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Overview

Thoughts on issues of character, leadership, integrity, personal and public virtue, and ethics, the selections in this volume converge around the central theme of how man can rise with dignity to prevail in the face of adversity—lessons just as valid for the challenges of present-day life as they were for the author's Vietnam experience.
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Overview

Thoughts on issues of character, leadership, integrity, personal and public virtue, and ethics, the selections in this volume converge around the central theme of how man can rise with dignity to prevail in the face of adversity—lessons just as valid for the challenges of present-day life as they were for the author's Vietnam experience.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780817993924
  • Publisher: Hoover Institution Press
  • Publication date: 2/29/2000
  • Series: Hoover Institution Press Publication Series , #43
  • Edition description: 1st Edition
  • Pages: 245
  • Sales rank: 350,825
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Vice Admiral James Stockdale, a senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution, served in the navy from 1947 to 1979, beginning as a test pilot and instructor at Patuxent River, Maryland, and spending two years as a graduate student at Stanford University. He became a fighter pilot and was shot down on his second combat tour over North Vietnam, becoming a prisoner of war for eight years, four in solitary confinement. The highest-ranking naval officer held during the Vietnam War, he was tortured fifteen times and put in leg irons for two years. His books include Thoughts of a Philosophical Fighter Pilot (1995, Hoover Institution Press) and In Love and War (second revised and updated edition, 1990, U.S. Naval Institute Press), coauthored with his wife, Sybil. In early 1987, a dramatic presentation of In Love and War was viewed by more than 45 million viewers on NBC television.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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  • Posted December 28, 2011

    Need a reason to study philosophy? Read this book!

    Aristotle wrote words (to the effect) ¿Philosophy is a luxury when life is going well but essential when it is not.¿ This collection of essays, speeches and other writings of Vice Admiral Jim Stockdale are testimony to this observation. Stockdale flew the fighter aircraft that dropped the first bomb on Vietnam after the Gulf of Tonkin incident (an incident that he questions really occurred) and was also one of the first fighter pilots to be shot down over North Vietnam. In this capacity he became the senior commander of other POWs held in the interrogation facility in Ho Chi Minh City (now Hanoi), North Vietnam. He and the other officers were subject to torture, months of isolation, extended periods in leg shackles and regular beatings during the course of the war. Yet they came out with their dignity intact and self-respect firmly in place. How Stockdale and other POWs survived this unimaginable brutality is the central theme of this book. The explanation Stockdale gives for leadership and his ability to have his men follow him involves his studies of philosophy at Stanford where Prof. Philip Rhinelander introduced him to Aristotle, Whitehead, Hume, Kant and in particular, to Epictetus. It was the voices of these thinkers and others like them that helped Stockdale maintain his sanity and self-respect during his long years of internment. (As an aside, it is interesting to read Stockdale¿s critique of US policy in Southeast Asia. Although he was 100% U.S. Navy, and a proud graduate of Annapolis, this man thought for himself and wasn¿t afraid to ask hard questions, another benefit he credited to his training in philosophy). A short review like this can¿t go into the specific ideas that supported Stockdale. But anyone asking why we need philosophy should read this book. It¿s strong evidence that philosophy does not consist solely of esoteric discussions of interest only to academics. It can be a powerful force for surviving those times when life is at its most difficult.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 23, 2012

    Admiral Stockdale was an extraordinary man. He tells his tales i

    Admiral Stockdale was an extraordinary man. He tells his tales in a shoot from the hip, no nonsense approach with character and intelligence. Having lived through torture and deprivation for years in a Vietnamese prison, he had to search his soul for a reason to care and he found that reason in his classical education.

    The Admiral ranges from leadership to maintaining courage under the worst possible conditions and what it takes to survive such a situation. Stockdale found solace in stoicism and the views of Epictetus and he tries to pass those lessons on to those who may one day require them to survive.

    As a collection of essays and speeches to various audiences, it is difficult to whittle down the book into a few short paragraphs. Suffice it to say that if you have an interest in a no holds barred approach to what it means to be a true leader or what it would take to survive hell, then this book is for you.

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    Posted August 19, 2009

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    Posted April 22, 2010

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