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The Hunters ()

In this long out of print masterpiece, James Salter, himself an aviator in the Korean War, wrote one of the best books ever about warfare, especially aerial warfare, and what may well be the only great piece of fiction to emerge from the war.  (Can anyone else think of any?)  Moreover, his lean tough prose established him as one of the most important stylists of his generation--a reputation he subsequently embellished with works like Solo Faces.

The novel tells the story of Captain Cleve Connell and his 100 missions in Korea.  His goal, like that of nearly every other pilot, is to shoot down the 5 MIG's that will qualify him as an ace: In this war, he was more certain than ever, he would attain himself, as men do who venture past all that is known. This is the strange attraction of war, the opportunity it affords for men to test themselves at a pressure point that lies beyond anything they experience otherwise.  But as Cleve flies mission after mission, he seldom even meets the enemy and, more galling, he sees unworthy men become heroes when they put personal glory ahead of the safety of their fellow pilots.  Then in one brilliant moment, both his physical and moral courage are tested.

This is a terrific novel.  Thank goodness it was finally reissued.


Grade: (A)


See also:

James Salter (2 books reviewed)
James Salter Links:

    -WIKIPEDIA: James Salter
    -INTERVIEW: James Salter, The Art of Fiction No. 133 (Interviewed by Edward HirschISSUE 127, SUMMER 1993, Paris Review)
    -ESSAY: James Salter’s Strange Career (JEFFREY MEYERS, salmagundi)
    -ESSAY: James Salter’s style: a neglected master of the American novel (Jeffrey Meyers, 8/07/22, The Article)
    -ESSAY: Beauty in the Ordinary (Carla Baricz, 12/10/20, Ploughshares)
    -REVIEW : of Light Years by James Salter (Anita Brookner, The Spectator)

Book-related and General Links:
    -FEATURED AUTHOR : James Salter (NY Times Book Review)
    -Interview (Vintage Books)
    -New York State Writers Institute--James Salter
    -Readers Guide to Light Years (Vintage Books)
    - A Conversation with James Salter . . . author of Burning the Days (Vintage Books)
    -ESSAY: Early novels treat readers to Salter style (FRITZ LANHAM, Houston Chronicle)
    -REVIEW : of The Hunters (George Barrett, NY Times Book Review, 1956)
    -Review of Burning the Days (Salon Magazine)
    -REVIEW: of BURNING THE DAYS  By James Salter (James M. Morris, Wilson Quarterly)
    -REVIEW: of BURNING THE DAYS, by James Salter Paths of glory: From West Point to Hollywood, James Salter could always recognize a hero (James Surowiecki, Boston Phoenix)
    -High Flier : review of Burning the Days (by A. Alvarez NY Review of Books)
    -REVIEW : of Burning the Days: Recollection  by James Salter (Brigitte Frase, Hungry Mind)

    -Korean War Project

If you liked The Hunters, try:

    Michener, James
    -The Bridges at Toko Ri

    Wolfe, Tom
    -The Right Stuff

Other recommended books by James Salter:
    -Solo Faces