At the Air Force Academy, they made us memorize a poem called "High Flight," by a young pilot who died not long after writing it. It's a somber, moving sort of thing, standing as a testament to the triumph of man over nature, in attaining conquest of the sky.
This book echoes many of those themes...as it should, because General Dotson is one of the Academy's most triumphant graduates. He flew combat missions in Vietnam. He took an MBA from Harvard Business School. He did the political thing in the Pentagon and Washington, D.C.
He's a serious bada$$, no doubt about it.
Now, he's written a book.
Don't you just hate a guy who's good at EVERYTHING?
"The Light on the Star" features several young Air Force officers, most of them Academy graduates, some of them in the turmoil of Vietnam combat, some of them witnessing the bizarre upheavals Stateside during the same time frame. It's more about the people involved, their interactions, hopes, and concerns, than it is about tactical maneuvers and "yanking and banking"...although there is plenty of that, too, for readers interested in flying, jet fighters, and warfare.
The reader also gets to see some of the inner workings of the Air Force; how some people are assigned to certain postings, how training is accomplished, and how operational duties are handled. This material, if handled by a lesser author, could have been quite dry, but Dotson gives the reader enough insight without belaboring his points, and crafts the delivery in such a way as to intrigue the reader instead of stupefying.
Dotson's strengths include not only his experience (both in the cockpit and out of it), but his ability to create fully-realized people, not just characters that read like archetypes in a book. You will care about them, their triumphs, their failures, their pain. They have shortcomings and flaws and fears and foibles. You will like them, and you will feel for them.
I don't want to offer up any spoilers, because the book has enough plot points to carry a strong storyline, and impinging on those would detract from the reading experience. Suffice it to say that a lot happens to these characters, both as a result of the war, and the turbulent times surrounding it.
I was honored to get a look at this book, as well as its sequel, before they hit the market...and reading both, even in draft form, was a true pleasure. Get yourself a copy of this book-- if only so you can fall for the characters enough to want to buy the follow-up!
Like this review? You might dig my book, available from Amazon, via my website: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1598691201?tag=benmal-20&camp=14573&creative=327641&linkCode=as1&creativeASIN=1598691201&adid=04T2MAY8TA76QBK2DPFT&
My second book is also available for pre-order on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Terrorism-Criminal-Investigations-Ben-Malisow/dp/079109412X/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1199409647&sr=1-2