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.
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.
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Mark Berent is admirably suited to have written his historical fiction five-book Vietnam Wings of War series for he lived each story. He served four years and one day in the Vietnam War during the period from November 1965 until August 1973.
When asked why he kept going back, he replied: “A lot of reasons; because it was there, because I wanted a MiG, because when the threat goes up the paperwork goes down and the weinies run for cover, but mostly because the guys were still fighting. Everyday I’d pick up a paper and find another buddy KIA, MIA, or POW. I just couldn’t stay on the beach.”
Now he writes about these men. He has five books in print and Ebooks; Rolling Thunder, Steel Tiger, Phantom Leader, Eagle Station, and Storm Flight. Although historical fiction, the books are about the men and women who gave everything they had in a war they weren’t allowed to win. FAC pilots, Phantom crews, Thud, Hun, and Buff crews, gunship pilots and gunners, green berets, grunts, carrier jocks, MAC contract stews, boomers and tankers, from corporals to colonels; the whole nine yards about the day-to-day heroism and heroes we all know and loved . . . and some we hated. By way of contrast, LBJ in the Oval Office and McNamara in the Pentagon E Ring are included and the words they spoke as they picked strike targets over lunch are included in great detail, yes indeed. As are those of Jane Fonda and Tom Hayden.