Review Written by Bernie Weisz, Historian, Pembroke Pines, Fl USA contact: BernWei1@aol.com This book abruptly puts you in the cockpit of a Huey Gunship helicopter during the early days (1966) of the Vietnam War. Robert Mason, in "Chickenhawk" takes you on a graphic month by month tour of helicopter duty starting in August, 1965 and concludes with Mason's disillusionment with a war that would ultimately claim more than 65,000 American lives. Mason vividly elucidates his paralyzing bouts of P.T.S.D., alcoholism and ultimately, like other returning Vietnam Veterans, unemployment upon return to civilian life. Hence is the tie in to his second book. As the reader discovers in Mason's second installment, he descends into criminal activity and lives the life of a drug smuggler transferring his military skills to illegal gains. Needless to say, it is interesting to note Mason's gradual change from an aggressive "pro-war hawk" supporting wholeheartedly the Vietnam War to his change after his D.E.R.O.S (military slang for "Date of Estimated Return from Overseas Service, i.e. when a soldier returns from his Vietnam tour and goes back to "The World" (the U.S.).Upon Mason's early days of adjustment transitioning from flying combat missions to the boredom of civilian life, he describes paralyzing anxiety of dying, P.T.S.D., and flashbacks of the war. For his flashbacks Mason condescendingly brands himself a "chicken". That's why he named this book "Chickenhawk". Mason was a soldier in regards to his exterior. However, his "insides" (being a coward) and his "outsides" didn't match! Mason angrily asks the reader a question he has been perplexed with for years: "Why didn't the South Vietnamese fight the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese like the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army fought the South Vietnamese? Mason asserted that without the support of "our allies" (the South Vietnamese) the U.S. was going to (and ultimately did) lose the war. However, since it was blatantly obvious to everyone that the South Vietnamese for the most part were corrupt and couldn't care less about victory, why was the U.S. there in the first place and continued until 1973 to fight a war that could not be won? Mason insists in "Chickenhawk" that the people in Washington must have known this. Most American plans were leaked to the V.C. and N.V.A. . The South Vietnamese Army was rife with reluctant combatants, mutinies,and corruption. Mason wrote about an incident where an A.R.V.N. detachment of soldiers at Danang in I Corps squared off in a pitched firefight with South Vietnamese Marines! There was the ubiquitous South Vietnamese sentiment that North Vietnam, with it's leader, Ho Chi Minh, would persevere to victory. Regardless, all these ideas are intertwined in a personal story chock full of raging madness, frightening extractions of wounded being dusted off, fierce combat and death. This is one book I will reread many times!