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The Fighter Pilot's Wife

Book Review of: The Fighter Pilot's Wife

A military family's story

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Review of The Fighter Pilot's Wife, by Author (Softcover, 2006)

(You can print this review in landscape mode, if you want a hardcopy)


A nonfiction love story. Worth reading.

This book presents a wonderful story in a compelling way. Told from the perspective of a fighter pilot's wife, just as the title promises, it spans decades yet seems to end almost too soon.

The first part of the book has us following the initially rocky courtship between Air Force pilot Joe Guth and a teacher he fell in love with. Fresh out of the University of Arizona, Gilberta Cosulich got her first teaching job in 1951. It wasn't what she had expected. It was at an Air Force pilot training base in the middle of the Arizona desert. It was on that base that she met Joe Guth at a dance. And they began dating.

When Joe graduated from his training and subsequently received an overseas assignment, he gave Gilberta his address and asked her to write to him. She did, and thus began a correspondence courtship that eventually led to their marriage.

The early part of this book doesn't have much of the author's (Gilberta) narrative. It's mostly letters from Joe, presented with some introduction and explanation, plus summaries of her responses. His letters, however, range from doting to hilarious. By today's standards, much of what he said would be considered manipulative. But in the mid-1950s, roles were very different and in the context we read the musings of a man deeply in love.

After their marriage, Gilberta follows Joe as he's relocated from country to country. We see much less correspondence, because they are living together rather than corresponding. From the marriage forward, it's narration rather than exposition.

Fighter pilots are exceptional people, to begin with. Very few people have the intelligence, calmness, and other characteristics required to be accepted into pilot training. Even fewer have the "right stuff" to graduate from that training. Joe Guth was exceptional, even among this elite group. That's not just Gilberta's opinion; the US Marine Corps reached that same conclusion when Joe served in an exchange program with them flying off carriers.

Joe Guth was an interesting character, to say the least. He had other areas of high competence besides flying (e.g., woodworking), but flying was his career until he retired from the Air Force. And it dominated not just his life, but those of Gilberta, their four children, and their friends.

I don't want to say too much more about the story, because I don't want to give it away. It was an unexpectedly wonderful story that almost had me in tears at the end.

This book consists of 21 chapters, an epilogue, and an afterword spanning 375 pages. It concludes with a 376th page titled "In Appreciation."

The page count makes the book sound heavy, like it's going to take a long time to read. But that's not how it felt while reading it. Not that I felt cheated (I didn't), but I got to the end and wanted more.




About these reviews

You may be wondering why the reviews here are any different from the hundreds of "reviews" posted online. Notice the quotation marks?

I've been reviewing books for sites like Amazon for many years now, and it dismays me that Amazon found it necessary to post a minimum word count for reviews. It further dismays me that it's only 20 words. If that's all you have to say about a book, why bother?

And why waste everyone else's time with such drivel? As a reader of such reviews, I feel like I am being told that I do not matter. The flippancy of people who write these terse "reviews" is insulting to the authors also, I would suspect.

This sound bite blathering taking the place of any actual communication is increasingly a problem in our mindless, blog-posting Webosphere. Sadly, Google rewards such pointlessness as "content" so we just get more if this inanity.

My reviews, contrary to current (non) standards, actually tell you about the book. I always got an "A" on a book review I did as a kid (that's how I remember it anyhow, and it's my story so I'm sticking to it). A book review contains certain elements and has a logical structure. It informs the reader about the book.

A book review may also tell the reader whether the reviewer liked it, but revealing a reviewer's personal taste is not necessary for an informative book review.

About your reviewer

  • Books are a passion of mine. I read dozens of them each year, plus I listen to audio books.
  • Most of my "reading diet" consists of nonfiction. I think life is too short to use your limited reading time on material that has little or no substance. That leads into my next point...
  • In 1990, I stopped watching television. I have not missed it. At all.
  • I was first published as a preteen. I wrote an essay, and my teacher submitted it to the local paper.
  • For six years, I worked as an editor for a trade publication. I left that job in 2002, and still do freelance editing and authoring for that publication (and for other publications).
  • No book has emerged from my mind onto the best-seller list. So maybe I'm presumptuous in judging the work of others. Then again, I do more describing than judging in my reviews. And I have so many articles now published that I stopped counting them at 6,000. When did I stop? Probably 20,000 articles ago! (It's been a while).
  • I have an engineering degree and an MBA, among other "quant" degrees. That helps explain my methodical approach toward reviews.
  • You probably don't know anybody who has made a perfect or near perfect score on a test of Standard Written English. I have. So, a credential for whatever it's worth.

About reading style

No, I do not "speed read" through these. That said, I do read at a fast rate. But, in contrast to speed reading, I read everything when I read a book for review.

Speed reading is a specialized type of reading that requires skipping text as you go. Using this technique, I've been able to consistently "max out" a speed reading machine at 2080 words per minute with 80% comprehension. This method is great if you are out to show how fast you can read. But I didn't use it in graduate school and I don't use it now. I think it takes the joy out of reading, and that pleasure is a big part of why I read.

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