I do not do many book reviews on here (all the books I sell are awesome, honest!), but once in a while a book rings so true AND interesting I’ve got to say a few words. Thud Ridge by Colonel Jack Broughton is one of those books. Colonel Broughton was a fighter pilot in both Korea and Vietnam, flying over 200 combat missions, many of them as a fighter-bomber pilot, delivering more tonnage in a single mission than a World War II B-17 bomber.
This book discusses his experiences in the Vietnam War, and was written and published while the war was still going on, which gives the content, particularly the political content, that much more impact. Now this is not a book which focuses on the political, and given the Vietnam experience, it’s not the type of political content you might think. There’s nothing here that suggests the war itself was a good or bad war. Col. Broughton limits himself to editorializing on how the fighter-bomber jocks specifically were forced to fight the war. And the commentary is woven fairly well into the fabric of the book, which is really more about unveiling the raw experiences of the pilots for the audience than anything else.
Politics aside, it’s compelling stuff. He’s descriptive but not overly dramatic. One passage towards the end of the book serves as a good example:
There is no mistaking the sound and sensation of being hit. I have been tapped eleven times in my 216 fighter combat missions, and the sensation does not become any less thrilling with repetition. The sound is not as loud as you might imagine, yet it is very precise and definite. I have searched for a good description and the best I can come up with is to take a quarter between your thumb and forefinger and hold it about four inches above a metal surface like a radiator, or even above a hardwood surface like a desk top. Now firmly, but not violently, rap the surface with the quarter. That’s the sound, and there is nothing quite like it.
There’s a great overview of the combat experience of the typical fighter-bomber pilot during Vietnam, with everything from bombing runs to dogfights to more mundane things like how the officer’s mess worked. Throughout, the impression I was left with was- here’s a guy who knows his stuff, isn’t messing around a bit, and would be a GREAT guy to have a beer with.
I’ve got two copies of this book currently. One is listed for sale through our normal channels (try https://www.ebay.com/itm/113585085312) , and a personal copy. Not sure I’m ready to let the personal copy go.