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The Bridges at Toko-Ri

The Bridges at Toko-Ri - James Albert Michener This is one of Michener's earlier works, written before he hit his stride. This isn't one of those "big picture" stories which follow a geographic area down through the ages. It is a much more focused work about a few Korean War era fighter pilots. The main storyline focuses on a mission to take out a strategic bridge in enemy territory. The characters aren't very memorable. What I found most interesting was the technical discussion about jet flight back in the 50's, and how the performance limitations of the early jet fighters affected air strategy. Fuel efficiency and capacity of Sabre jets was very limited, and in-air refueling had not been refined, so fighter range was quite small. Even in a very small country like Korea, flying a successful sortee depended on extremely judicious use of fuel. For comparison, consider that today's B2 bomber has a range of 6000+ miles, and has regularly flown missions non-stop to Kosovo from a home base in Missouri. B2 info link There is also a very good description of the unique challenges of carrier-based flight. Overall, this isn't a bad book, but Michener goes on to much bigger and better works later in his career: Hawaii and Chesapeake: A Novel, etc.