Ghostrider One

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Combat in the air is a demanding experience at best, but for Jim Hogan it is especially difficult. His assignment to the carrier Shiloh as the executive officer of a squadron of attack aircraft is another of those necessary tasks required of those who would become admirals. Unfortunately, the normal process is disrupted by the enemy, and Hogan finds himself in command of the squadron. Moreover, his predecessor’s approach to leadership proved less than successful. Therefore, Hogan must fight a war in the air against the North Vietnamese and simultaneously strive to raise his squadron to peak efficiency. Meanwhile, Dick Averitt must temporarily abandon flying to serve as an air liaison officer with a Marine infantry regiment. Averitt would rather remain with his squadron, but career considerations dictate otherwise.

Gerry Carroll uses his protagonists to examine a portion of the air and ground war in Vietnam in those last months before the advent of the pivotal Tet Offensive in 1968. Carroll’s action sequences are compelling and as true to reality as is possible with an experience which is so unique to each individual. Moreover, insofar as such sequences are carefully juxtaposed with humdrum scenes of life between missions, Carroll reaffirms the descriptive truth of war as hours of boredom interspersed with moments of stark terror. GHOSTRIDER ONE does not offer an innovative insight into the mind of the warrior, nor is it a literary tour de force filled with symbolic representations of the darker side of human nature. It does, however, describe how a small group of men spent a portion of their time in pursuit of activities that were quite lethal for all concerned—and that’s more than enough.