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Flights of Passage


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About the Author

Samuel Hynes is Woodrow Wilson Professor of Literature Emeritus at Princeton University and the author of several major works of literary criticism, including The Auden Generation, Edwardian Occasions, and The Edwardian Turn of Mind. Hynes's wartime experiences as a Marine Corps pilot were the basis for his highly praised memoir, Flights of Passage. The Soldiers' Tale, his book about soldiers' narratives of the two world wars and Vietnam, won a Robert F. Kennedy Award. He is also a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.


Hynes, a professor at Princeton, looks back with amused nostalgia at the wide-eyed, eager youngster he was as an aviation cadet and then as a Marine lieutenant who saw action in the Pacific as a light-bomber pilot. The memoir, however, is only secondarily about combat. Mostly it tells what it was like to be ``young and happy and silly'' while training for, then participating in, the Second World War. The author recalls that he had three major goals in those days: getting drunk, getting laid and getting into the war. Hynes includes classic military-on-the-make anecdotes, and, although he and many of his fellow pilots considered ``gross and ugly'' the behavior of the more sexually aggressive members of the squadron, their gross and ugly antics are tenderly, and hilariously, depicted. The author married during the war, and his description of the relationship (he and his wife were part of a ``game'' that, in retrospect, he calls ``Grown-ups'') is as moving as his account of the first combat death he witnessed. 35,000 first printing. (March)

Teenager Hynes (now Woodrow Wilson Professor of Literature, Princeton) took naval flight training, became a Marine bomber pilot, and late in World War II flew over 100 missions against the Japanese. His scintillating descriptions of this time, of his friends and often bawdy fellow pilots, of his tentative romantic adventures, and of new vistas and challenges, are woven together with skill and intelligence. This is not a standard story of courage in war, but rather a tale of the dogged and mortal persistence to pass many versions of ``the Test'' that training and combat and even sex presented to a young man preparing for war. An introspective, winning, and vivid recollection sketched by a gifted observer. Mel D. Lane, Sacramento, Cal.

"An unusual and moving book . . . an authentic fragment, poignant and real, of a great and tumultuous past."
"A compelling and honest memoir as well as a profound human document of a terrible and heroic time. Hynes's story is fascinating, imaginative, and unforgettable"
An unusual and moving book . . . an authentic fragment, poignant and real, of a great and tumultuous past. ("The Washington Post Book World")

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