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The Cool Woman by John Aubrey Anderson

The Cool Woman by John Aubrey Anderson begins in 1970 when Lieutenant Bill Mann enters pilot training and begins to live his dream of becoming a fighter pilot.  Mann is a black man entering the military at a time when bigotry and ambition made a dangerous cocktail for his race.  He’s determined to make his mark and do his father proud, and in the process meets the love of his life, Pip.

“In the world of aviation, conventional wisdom says:  To keep an aircraft in the air, a pilot will always need at least one of three ingredients:  airspeed, altitude, or ideas. If any one or two of those ingredients is absent or in short supply, the pilot must have a proportionate abundance of whatever remains.” (page 3)

Throughout the novel, Anderson weaves in Mann’s background and hidden secrets, but he also unveils how the path to God and faith is wrought with many obstacles and trials.  Christian faith plays a large role in this novel, as it should given the combat situations and uncertainty in the lives of the families tied to Bill Mann and his friend Rusty Mattingly and every other combat pilot they encounter along the way.

The three ingredients necessary for aviation are like those necessary for faith, but readers will also note that these ingredients can be boiled down to one word — hope.  Hope is the main message of the novel despite the bullets and bigotry flying through its pages.  Anderson’s use of sparse language to tell his story makes the plight of Mann and his friends in the jungles of Vietnam immediate and harrowing at every turn, but it also helps illuminate the enduring camaraderie and bonds that were created between soldiers, nurses, administrators, and many others.

“Apparently, the sound told the gunners exactly where they were; the anti-aircraft fire intensified and became a steel curtain woven of angry red and white arcs.  Driver’s grip tested the stress tolerance of the handholds.  Within seconds the airplane was standing on its nose — the engine was threatening to come off the mounts; swarms of tracers flashed by on all sides, barely missing them.  Driver was as far down in his seat as he could get, mesmerized by one particular string of red balls that seemed frozen in space just outside the canopy.”  (page 107)

Overall, The Cool Woman is a captivating novel about Air Force pilots and the struggles they faced.  It also explores the racism in the military, the politics that gets things accomplished or screws things up, and the faith it takes to not only do what needs to be done, but get through the roughest patches.  Anderson’s cool woman is not the plane, but the inner self that must be crafted and nurtured in times of combat.

This is my 62nd book for this challenge.

This is my 14th book for this challenge.

  • I hope you all try it out. I enjoyed it.

  • This does sound good.
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  • bookworm

    This one does sound interesting. I like the theme of hope within the story.
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  • I can’t wait to read this book. Thanks for letting me borrow your copy!
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