Incident at Muc Wa
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The University Press of Kansas has published Vietnam's High Ground, a really fine history of America's war as it was fought in the Central Highlands that made up a considerable portion of the country's land mass, and that spread into Cambodia and Laos. Sparsely populated, and long shunned by the lowland Vietnamese, it was the perfect hiding place and training ground point for North Vietnamese infiltrators all through the war. (Indeed, the first and final major battles of the war were fought in the Highlands.) Paul Harris of the British Army's academy at Sandhurst wrote the book from U.S. and Vietnamese sources, and -- a rarity in Vietnam histories -- salted it with excellent maps. Highly recommended.

The Flight in question is the roughly 4,000-mile jaunt from New York to Paris in May 1927 that made Charles Lindbergh the most famous man in the world. Dan Hampton's account is the fifth I have read, and the first to focus on the pilot rather than the man. It's a book for pilots, by a pilot, with relentless attention to the endless, tiny adjustments that must be made to fly an unstable aircraft. (Had Spirit been stable, I doubt it would have reached Europe, for even the disciplined Lindbergh would surely have fallen asleep.) Short of spending forty hours in a simulator, reading these 250 pages is the closest we can get to his ordeal through the two days and a night he spent in the air. It is, therefore, a bit of an astonishment to discover, toward the end, that a thief made off with Lindbergh's logbook soon after he landed at Le Bourget, and that it has was never recovered. So what did I just spend forty hours reading, a work of fiction?

I almost let this one go by, but Facing Ali is a magnificent documentary about prize-fighting -- and when you see those giants slamming each other, you know why boxing used to be called a prize fight. Cassius Clay, later Muhammad Ali, did indeed "float like a butterfly," but he also delivered and received some awful blows. What impressed me most was the intelligence of some of these men, especially the Canadian George Chuvalo, and the affection that they display toward the man who beat them in the ring -- or whom they defeated, notably Larry Holmes. Watching the footage of the Holmes-Ali fight in Las Vegas is a painful thing. At thirty-eight, Ali is an old man, no longer floating like a butterfly or stinging like a bee. Indeed, he alread seems unable to speak clearly, an affliction that torments several of the fighters featured in this docco. Blue skies! — Dan Ford

Dan Ford's books

A Kindle for $79.99, a tablet for $49.99!

For ten years I've been adapting my books and articles for
digital reading, most notably for Amazon's Kindle, a kludgy device that cost $399 when it first revolutionized publishing. And now the price has fallen to $79.99 for a much superior product. Even more astonishing is the new Kindle Fire, a basic but full-fledged, 7-inch tablet computer for $49.99.

Daniel Ford's books:

The Greater America: An Epic Journey Through a Vibrant New Country (Ralph Paine)
Flying Tigers: Claire Chennault & His American Volunteers (revised 2016)
Tales of the Flying Tigers (think of it as a lengthy appendix to the history)
Poland's Daughter: How I Learned About Love, War, and Exile
Michael's War: A story of the Irish Republican Army
The Lady and the Tigers (Olga Greenlaw)
The Only War We've Got: Early Days in South Vietnam
Remains: A Story of the Flying Tigers
Incident at Muc Wa: A Story of the Vietnam War
Glen Edwards: Diary of a Bomber Pilot
A Vision So Noble: John Boyd, the OODA Loop, and America's War on Terror
The Country Northward: A Hiker's Journal

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Question? Comment? Newsletter? Send me an email. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford

Flying Tigers
revised and updated

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Posted September 2017. Websites © 1997-2017 Daniel Ford. All rights reserved.