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An F-14 aviator takes his readers into the cockpits, ready-rooms, and bunkrooms of today's Navy to show what it's like to fight in a time of so-called peace. From the opening chapter where a Tomcat fighter squadron's commanding officer botches an intercept of a hostile Iranian F-4 to the final uplifting scene, his novel reveals the inner workings of the military as only an insider can. It is a thriller without an airshow groupie's pretense, a fighter pilot's story as honest as it is riveting. The action is gripping and authentic, yet it punctuates rather than drives the plot. Seldom has fiction been so real.
Punk's War is part adventure tale, part introspective commentary. Adopting the tone of the quixotic lieutenants who populate its pages, the novel helps us understand the pressures on this new generation of warfighters. Along the way we are introduced to an engaging cast of characters: a self-centered careerist squadron commander hell-bent on fixing his tainted professional reputation; a reluctant air-wing commander more suited for life within the walls of the Pentagon than on a flight deck at sea; a battle-group commander reared in the art of driving ships, but thrust into the snap decision matrix of supersonic jets; and a host of junior officers. Seeking only the ideals they were promised, these technology-savvy aviators are products of pop culture, unimpressed by rank for its own sake and unresponsive to petitions in the name of the profession's lofty mottos. Unlike other books about the business of flying from aircraft carriers, this novel provides serious food for thought about leadership and retention--what motivates young people to keep doing what they do despite the dangers, disappointments, and personal sacrifices. Best-selling novelist Stephen Coonts describes the author as Tom Clancy crossed with Joseph Heller, his book as a refreshing twist on the military thriller.
Commander Ward Carroll is retired from the Navy and is a frequent contributor to Proceedings. He was named Naval Institute Press Author of the Year in 2001 for his novel Punk's War.
~ Praise for Punk's War ~
"Suspense, drama, and action as hot as a fighter jet's afterburner, Carroll's account of modern naval aviation reads like Top Gun on steroids…Will delight the military-techno audience…Speaks volumes about military careerism, aviation technology, naval operations in harm's way, and the men who fly and fight for a living."
— Publisher's Weekly
"Tom Clancy meets Joseph Heller in this riveting, irreverent portrait of the fighter pilots of today's Navy. At last somebody got it right. I couldn't put it down."
— Stephen Coonts
"A thoughtful rumination on the ethics of war fighters and the notions of duty, loyalty, honor…This is a compelling picture of the harsh realities of professional life for some of the most intelligent, able, and courageous young people in our society."
"A techno-thriller stripped of the he-man conventions and turned into a social satire of life on a carrier in the Persian Gulf…Carroll has written an entertainment of a very high order. The airspeak is dead on, the missions plausible, the myriad levels of control and command deftly conveyed."
— The Philadelphia Inquirer
"Punk's War has it all: the action of the best techno-thrillers, the emotional drama of Coonts, the realism of Keegan, and the craftsmanship of a true professional."
— John F. Lehman Jr., Secretary of the Navy, 1981-1987, author of Command of the Seas