Shot down on his final reconnaissance flight over Cambodia, Hamilton Hancock (Hamfist) hangs from his parachute harness in the canopy until daylight when he is able to find his way to the ground, then he has to evade the Viet Cong until Search and Rescue can extricate him. He almost escapes unscathed. A burgeoning romance with a Japanese-American beauty helps motivate Hamfist’s recovery and guides his military career decisions. Then he has one more incident over the clandestine battleground during the illegal incursion into Cambodia and Laos during the Viet Nam War.
Hamfist Down is a gritty, true to life depiction of an airman’s experiences during that secretive and unpopular war. George Nolly writes from experience in the jargon of the time and place. Hamfist’s character development portrays him as both hardboiled and sensitive and one suspects that he is the author’s alter ego. This fast paced, relatively short slice of history succeeds more with realism than drama. It is an entertaining window into a period of American history that has not always been truthfully told.
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