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The Bridges At Toko-ri (1991)

The Bridges at Toko-ri (1991)

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3.95 of 5 Votes: 2
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0449206513 (ISBN13: 9780449206515)
ballantine books

About book The Bridges At Toko-ri (1991)

While reading this I wondered what other fictional accounts were out there about the Korean War. I searched Listopia and found one list about the Korean war. In contains 92 books and all are nonfiction. Only 22 people have added books to it. There’s a Korean War group; it has two members. It’s sad to think how little Americans know about it. This book by Michener was published in 1953. And so little since? Even during the war, fought shortly after World War II, Americans went on with their lives giving scarce thought to the battles being waged by their countrymen on the other side of the Pacific. This is something that saddens the characters in this short and excellent book. The book begins:“The sea was bitter cold. From the vast empty plains of Siberia howling winds roared down to lash the mountains of Korea, where American soldiers lost on patrol froze into stiff and awkward forms. Then with the furious intensity the arctic wind swept out to sea, freezing even the salt spray that leaped into the air from crests of falling waves.Through these turbulent seas, not far from the trenches of Korea, plowed a considerable formation of American warships. A battleship and two cruisers accompanied by fourteen destroyers...they had been sent to destroy the communist-held bridges at Toko-ri.Toward the center of this powerful assembly rode two fast carriers.”Michener uses men from one of these carriers to tell his story. And splits it into three sections. “Sea” covers the take-off and landing of the fighter planes, emphasizing the command of such an undertaking and the difficulties of landing, including a nail-biting scene of rescue in icy waters. “Land” is a brief account of three days leave in Japan. One wife has made it there with her children to see her husband. This causes mixed emotions and the reunion is difficult. Even while on land duty calls, and the reality of her husband’s situation as a pilot hits home. “Sky” covers the mission of destroying four Communist supply bridges by air. This is a sad and realistic portrayal of the war when one of the planes goes down on land and the pilot survives the crash but finds himself in enemy territory. Apparently this book is looked at as anti-war. Though it didn’t read that way for me. It was realistic. People die. Planes go down. There is fear and bravado. The admiral doesn’t like war, but still, he’s a career guy doing his duty. His discussions with returning pilots don’t glorify war, they don’t vilify it, but rather face it with truth. When he says “Militarily this war is a tragedy” and he is then asked why America doesn’t pull out he says “That’s rubbish, son, and you know it. All through history free men have had to fight the wrong war in the wrong place. But that’s the one they’re stuck with. That’s why, one of these days, we’ll knock out the bridges at Toko-ri.” Guess to me, that’s not so much anti-war as the truth. And Vietnam had not yet begun. Nor had our meddling in Afghanistan. Or the two wars in Iraq. This is an excellent book, made more important by the rarity of books written about the Korean War. Seek it out. Read it in a day. It’s very, very, very much worth the effort.

The author, James A. Michener, sparked my love of reading years ago when I was in college with his book, ‘Sports in America’. I have read most all of Michener’s books but this one ‘The Bridges of Toko-Ri’ was a difficult one to find. On the cover of the book it says this story is a stirring tribute to the carriers, the planes, and the men of the US Navy. The fictional story depicts several Navy men’s endeavors during the Korean conflict to destroy the Bridges at Toko-Ri used to supply the communists. As with all of Michener’s novels, I love the characters that he has created, from the flamboyant, Mike Forney, who wears a green stove pipe hat when he rescues pilots to tyrannical, but caring, Admiral Tarrant, who oversees the carrier, to the pilots that have to take off and land on a small amount of real estate in the turbulent sea. I felt like I could see each of the characters and know what drove them to act.I found it interesting that the naval men’s viewpoint was that most Americans did not care about the conflict and it had no impact upon their daily lives, but for the military man and their families were called upon to sacrifice, sometimes even their lives, for the war effort. I wonder during this time of conflict in the Middle East if I am guilty of not caring what happens to our military men and women.I was also impressed with soldier’s desire or duty to help, protect each other and complete their assigned missions. This bond between warriors caused them to put their own welfare and lives in harm’s way to come to the aid of another naval man.I recommend this short novel to the fans of James A. Michener; you will not be disappointed. I also recommend this book to those who enjoy good military action stories.Other books I have read by James A. Michener•tThe Source (one of my favorite books)•tSports in America (First book I read of Michener)•tTexas•tJourney•tThe Drifters•tThe Eagle and the Raven•tRascals in Paradise (while I was on vacation in Hawaii)•tLegacy•tThe Voice of Asia•tPoland•tTales of the South Pacific (maybe his most popular book)•tCentennial•tCaribbean•tCaravans

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About a year ago I taped Bridges of Toko-Ri onto DVR. Been sitting there ever since. I really don't like watching movies before reading the books. And as this is one of the last Micheners on my to-read/to-own list, I was positively giddy when I saw this as part of a compilation set for a buck at a garage sale (other stories: The Swimming Pool; Kiss Me Again, Stranger; Adventures in Two Worlds; The Silent World; Story of Aviation; Rivets;seven stories of du Massaupant). Got it home and read the falling apart version in two sittings. Overall, Michener, as usual, doesn't disappoint. This is just a great novella about the conflict of a Korean War soldier regarding duty versus desire. In a mere 80 or so pages Michener puts together a story of conflict, action and compassion and details out the lives and personalities of five soldiers. I can only imagine what he could have done with 200 pages. I have read as well that this is a highly accurate technical view of the life on a carrier and aboard the jets that operate off of it. The compelling factor of the tale is Brubaker and his conflict. The views of the Admiral and the description of Fornay and Beer Barrel were a little superfluous. But the review of Brubakers' emotional arc was fantastic. Very simply a good tale. Well worth the $1. I'm shelving the rest of the stories, for now. I may go back and check out the short stories of du Massaupant. Now, need to check out that movie... Note…the attached is not the edition I read. Mine was the 1953 Doubleday compilation which I did not find on Goodreads. The version is per the link if its still up: and

A perfect example of how pointless war is. In this book: a lot of people don't know what they are fighting for..E.g. when Brubaker asks Mike Forney why he hates the communist so much, he responds with this answer: "Simple. One Sunday morning in the cathedral I heard the cardinal explain it all." --> he doesn't has his as own opinion. Another quote from the book that illustrates this: " Harry Brubaker, a twenty-nine-year-old lawyer from Denver, Colorado, was alone in a spot he had never intented to defend in a war he had not understood."The novel is very realistic with a lot of technical describtions.

t "Defending a Defenseless War"tKorea in the 1950’s, when a small country was ripped apart by civil, Communist-inspired war. Also a time when many Americans carried on their normal lives--heedless of the torture and sacrifice going on half a world away. Task Force 77, under the direction of veteran Admiral Tarrant, has been assigned the critical mission of taking out the four bridges at Toko-Ri, deep in the mountains beyond Fujikama. His brave men must make several passes from one end of the valley to the other, taking direct hits from Communist gunners. A suicidal run to cripple enemy communications, to disrupt war and food provisions. The mere mention of the place gives proven airmen men the jitters.tWritten in three parts the book opens with SEA, where readers plunge into the exigencies of aircraft carrier life and meet the intrepid Admiral of the SAVO, who makes life and death decisions for the men in his command--indeed for the entire fleet as it approaches Korea’s forbidding coastline and freezing sea. In LAND the men enjoy liberty in Japan: Brubaker, a 29-year-old lawyer from Colorado who never wanted to join this war, is reunited with his wife and children, while fiery Irishman, Mike Forney, starts two brawls over theJapanese girl who ditches him. Military loyalty is demonstrated many times as the brothers in arms rush to defend their own. Men are in danger on welcoming land, and also on hostile land--even in the freezing embrace of the sea, but they take care of their own! There is honor at sea, on land and in contested airspace.tSKY, part 3, describes the two days of air strikes over the four target bridges. Brubaker’s courage is tested as he suffers from the jitters, but then the admiral, who seems to have a soft spot for him, offers a face-saving way to be released from this suicidal mission. Tensions mount once there is no turning back. The fraternity of the skies is revealed as Brubaker and Forney are downed. Mitchener’s detailed knowledge of military matters, combined with his insights into the human psyche, make this novella a compelling and thrilling read. (July 29, 2011. I welcome dialogue with teachers.)

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