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MILITARY BOOKS

Mark Berent

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Lieutenant Colonel Mark Berent, USAF (ret.) “served in the Air Force for more than twenty years, first as an enlisted man and then as an officer. He has logged 4,350 hours of flying time, over 1,000 of them in Combat. During his three Vietnam tours, Berent earned not only the Silver Star but two Distinguished Flying Crosses, over two dozen air medals, the Bronze Star, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, and the Legion of Merit.” Lieutenant Colonel Mark Berent said of Eagle Station, Steel Tiger, Phantom Leader, Rolling Thunder and Storm Flight.

 

Kirkus Reviews said of Eagle Station, “Berent's US Air Force saga (Rolling Thunder, Steel Tiger, Phantom Leader) continues, taking his pilots and commandos into Laos and a late-1968 battle to protect a radar outpost. With only a few weeks to go before the presidential election, both the North Vietnamese and Lyndon Johnson are working on plans to swing the vote the way they want it to go. They both like Hubert Humphrey. President Johnson is getting ready to pull the plug on bombing north of the Demilitarized Zone, and the North Vietnamese are trying to choreograph the ``confession'' of a downed airman with a military action against the American radar base in Laos that controls much of the sky over their country. Recurring heroes Court Bannister and Wolf Lochert, pilot and supercommando, respectively, head for the threatened installation, pausing only for a little short, sweet, dalliance in Thailand. Meanwhile, fellow recurring hero and currently imprisoned pilot Algernon A. ``Flak'' Apple endures near-fatal beatings and psychological torture after almost escaping Hanoi. And Shawn Bannister, radical journalist, recurring villain and half-brother to Court Bannister, heads for Hanoi, unaware that he is being manipulated by Hanoi and Washington concurrently. If everything works out the way Hanoi plans, there will be dramatic revelations from the hospital in Hanoi at the very moment that either the North Vietnamese Army or their partners in socialist solidarity, the Soviets, overrun the radar. There is, by the way, a pretty but rather loose American lady hanging around the radar controls swilling gin and ogling the gents. Open your eyes for the flight and fight scenes, close them for the sex and politics.”

 

On reader of Eagle Station said, “It's been a number of years since I've read Eagle Station, but I've read all of Mr. Berents' books and they were spectacular. The detail with which he describes the characters and scenes made you feel as if you were actually in the field, the enemy attacking you. You could almost hear the gun fire and feel the battle rage. His technique even let you inside the characters minds and understand what they might have gone through. I met Mr. Berents at a book signing at Davis Monthan AB in 1990-91. He autographed Rolling Thunder for me, complete with a Jane Fonda toilet paper book mark! I read Rolling Thunder on the flight to Tucson from Indianapolis. All Mr. Berent's books are great reads, I wish he would write more!”

 

On reader of Eagle Station said, “This is number four of a five book series that follows the adventures of several pilots and special forces personnel through the war in Viet Nam. For those of us who were pilots in that war, it is the best and most accurate description of our experiences. Each book of the series seems both historically and otherwise factually accurate. All in all, one of the best "reads" to be had since Tom Clancy started writing.”

 

The School Library Journal said of Phantom Leader, “A fast-paced novel about the 1968 Tet offensive in Vietnam through which readers come to see the excitement and cruelty of war. Flak Apple parachutes into the midst of the Viet Cong and becomes a prisoner in Hanoi's Hoa Lo Prison. Toby Parker is taken prisoner after his plane is shot down on a reconnaissance mission. Court Bannister, a hotshot F4 pilot who violated the Rules of Engagement, is now assigned to set up secret night missions over Laos. Wolf Lochert, a Special Forces officer, not only fights the Viet Cong, but must also fight for his life against Washington political action. Berent brings out the contradictions of the war and the political morass that on one hand sent men to Vietnam and on the other hand constricted their actions to such an extent that victory was never a possibility. The imprisonment of Flak Apple clearly demonstrates man's inhumanity to man and will bring tears to the eyes of most readers.”

 

One reader of Phantom Leader said it “is the third in Berent's five book saga of fighting men in Vietnam. Berent's series gets better as this author gains experience and insight into the lives of his characters. This book is probably the first one in the series I would consider a "must read". The reason is the story of Major Algeron "Flak" Apple who is shot down in his F-4 fighter early in the book and is captured by the North Vietnamese. His story gives the reader a shocking look at life as a prisoner of war inside the Hao Lo prison, known more commonly as the "Hanoi Hilton". His story continues through the final two volumes. Berent agonizing portrayal of Apple's life of misery and torture inside the prison is dramatic and moving. The story also contains the continuing story of Court Bannister, an Air Force pilot that I believe Berent uses to tell his own story. Wolf Lochert also continues his battle as a US Army Special Forces Lt. Colonel. Berent writes with a similar style to Tom Clancy. This book is really five separate stories that all intersect at one time or another. Berent's books are much easier to read and have more action than technical detail. The reader does, however, receive enough explanation of military terms and acronyms to understand the sometimes complex language used by military persons. This books is a superb action novel, but what makes it great is the amazing and horrifying look inside a prison camp of North Vietnam.”

 

Publisher’s Weekly said of Storm Flight, “In the bitter year of 1972, deep inside Vietnam, American POWs with special knowledge or skills have been secretly removed from camps, their names hidden from official records. After a daring American raid exposes Soviet complicity, American airmen must try to free their comrades. In this fifth and final novel in the series that began with Rolling Thunder , Lt. Gen. "Whitey" Whisenand leads a varied group of men in this mission. Among them are Air Force Lt. Col. Court Bannister, who must leave his beloved fighters and learn to drive a "bus" (a B-52 bomber); Special Forces Lt. Col. Wolf Lochert, who designs and carries out a heart-stopping parachute drop; and fighter pilot Capt. Toby Parker. Meanwhile, Major Flak Apple and his buddies bravely manage to send coded messages from Hoa Lo Prison ("Hanoi Hilton"). The mission is further complicated by the anti-war movement, Kissinger/Nixon politicking and the men's emotions as they lose friends in the relentless air war. Genre aficionados will relish the wealth of military detail and the technical explanations; all readers will be rewarded by the ultimate mission, when planes, men and tactics are tested to the spine-tingling limits. Berent, whose 20 years in the Air Force included three tours of Vietnam, has developed a loyal following of military aviation buffs (including many Vietnam aviators) all eager for this conclusion to his saga.”

 

One reader of Storm Flight said of, “Following the exploits of Court Bannister, Wolf Lochert, Toby Parker and the gang showed me believable action; let me observe the transition of young hotshots into responsible adults through experiences with war and life; taught me history, the real thing I didn't get from the media in the 1960s; focused me on geography, with which I'm getting better. Not so very different from the young people I see at our USO where I volunteer each week. Most of all, it let me come to some resolution and peace in my own mind about Vietnam. Those young men I knew in the 1960s who willingly went to serve were right in their intent, despite an Administration and press who failed to support them. Those who didn't come back did not die in vain, and are remembered fondly. My only regret is that it's the last of the series. I hope Mark Berent is not finished writing! More! More! Another series! Something!”


Eagle Station
Mark Berent  More Info
Storm Flight
Mark Berent  More Info

Steel Tiger
Mark Berent  More Info

Phantom Leader
Mark Berent  More Info

Rolling Thunder
Mark Berent  More Info

Publisher’s Weekly said of Steel Tiger, “"Steel Tiger" was U.S. Air Force code for the northern panhandle of Laos, a crucial sector of the Ho Chi Minh Trail. This sequel to Rolling Thunder focuses on the efforts of the Air Force in the summer and fall of 1967 to cut the vital supply line. Berent's indictment of the Johnson administration's micro-management of the air war over North Vietnam is well meant but stolidly written; the novel takes fire when he switches from political commentary to military action. The story is told through characters introduced in the earlier novel: fighter pilot Court Bannister, forward air controller Toby Parker and special forces lieutenant colonel Wolf Lochert. Fast-paced accounts of strike missions and fighter combat are juxtaposed with an effective subplot describing North Vietnam's air defenses through the eyes of a Soviet pilot. Berent keeps readers in the cockpit until the final pages, notwithstanding such incongruities as "Thor's balls!" used as a Russian expletive.”

 

One reader of Steel Tiger said, “Do you like a book that is able to take you to the front of a war and able to make you feel that your there with the characters? If you do, then you'll love STEEL TIGER by Mark Berent. This book is able to put you in the cockpit of an F-4 and in the heat of battle in the air and on the ground. Mark Berent is able to give you the feeling that you have known the characters, your their best friends, and they are telling you the story as you sit and have a cold one. Court banister is the main character and the most believable: he si a major in the air force serving our country in the Vietnam War. STEEL TIGER is a book about the special bonds that are formed between pilots an d co-pilots in the air and on the ground. It teaches that if you don't trust the person you fly with, than its most likely that you may end up dead or a prison of war. It portrays that the war is about people, those on both sides,(good or bad) and the stories that they can tell you. It shows that even though you have to fight the other side that they are not all bad people. The book was well written and full of exiting dog fights and bar room fights that make you feel like you are in the air force and with the men of the Vietnam War.”

 

Publisher’s Weekly said of Rolling Thunder, “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.”

 

One reader of Rolling Thunder said of, “I've read a number of books on the Vietnam War -- fiction and non-fiction. Rolling Thunder is one of the best. This book is the start of a five book series that covers the Vietnam war pretty much from the big American buildup era of 1965 to our last big air battle -- Linebacker II. For a novel, Rolling Thunder reads like a memoir, and I guess that's because it partially is one for Berent.

 

His descriptions of air combat are authentic and edge of your seat type stuff. But it is the interactions of the fighter squadron and the wing and big Air Force politics that makes this book a great read. Rolling Thunder starts with the death of a pilot that was flying with Court Bannister (the hero of these books). The other pilot is not a particularly good stick (or pilot as fighter jocks call them) and manages to prang his F-100 all over the jungle. For Court that's bad, not because he loses a squad mate, but because the guy's a powerful generals son.

 

The series follows Bannister around for the next seven years and through the last book -- Storm Flight, which ends the war with the Linebacker attacks on N. Vietnam.  Berent manages to weave all the elements of Vietnam -- Saigon dangers, Air Force fighters, Special Forces ground combat and political intrigue in Washington -- all into one story. The only complaint I had with the series is the inclusion of the obligatory romance in Thailand or some RR spot in every book. The romance element wasn't as entertaining to me, but they are always brief interludes and then its back to work and war.  If you don't know much about the war in Vietnam or the Air Force read these books. They are a good education and entertaining.”

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