cover image Flights of Passage

Flights of Passage

Samual Hynes. US Naval Institute Press, $23.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-87021-215-4

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)