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Book reviews for "Spears,_Sally" sorted by average review score:

Call Sign Revlon: The Life and Death of Navy Fighter Pilot Kara Hultgreen
Published in Hardcover by United States Naval Inst. (1998)
Author: Sally Spears
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A well-written book beyond the controversy...
That the death of Navy Lt. Kara Hultgren has caused and will continue to cause controversy is without doubt...see several of the reviews on this web page. "Call Sign Revlon" has its own opinion, which many will doubtless disagree with, but considering that it's written by the mother of the deceased, it is an astonishingly even-handed account of the life and death of the Navy's first female fleet fighter pilot. Ms. Spears doesn't attempt to whitewash her daughter's life, presenting her warts and all, including many clearly unexpurgated letters. Ms. Spears has been trained as a journalist, and it shows; she makes her argument early, clearly, and rationally. Indeed, after Kara leaves for college, the author rarely makes an appearance in the story at all. She chooses instead to focus on her daughter's Navy life, which is, after all, the crux of the story. The story reads like an expanded article of the sort one might find in "Newsweek" for example. Of course, when her involvement in the story is called for, it's even more powerful, as when she describes holding and weeping over Kara's helmet and flight jacket, recovered from the wreck of her Tomcat. Her "reconstruction" of the last minutes of her daughter's life is moving, technically accurate, and must have been absolutely heartbreaking to write. In all, this is an excellent piece of journalism. Highly reccommended for someone looking for a personal perspective on the "women in combat" debate.

good picture of common struggles in Naval Aviation
I don't know any of the individuals in this book, but I've been in the Navy long enough to recognize all the types and to confirm the descriptions of many of the settings here. Sally Spears did a good job of researching and writing this book, and she was more objective than I'd expect a mother to be. It's easy to see Kara brought on a lot of her own problems, but I understand the reasons for her behavior. Because of our different personalities, I wonder whether I would have liked her as a fellow officer.

I have the greatest admiration for this first generation of female fighter pilots. Being a woman in the man's world of naval aviation is tough. (I know that from my experiences, described in "Navy Greenshirt: A Leader Made, Not Born.") And fighter pilots are tough on each other. To take on that double challenge and succeed in this harsh environment requires a woman with extraordinary guts and determination. Those who haven't experienced the emotional pressure can't comprehend it.

As for whether Kara got special treatment, people seem to forget the pilots who trained these "tokens" are ordinary naval aviators (and men), and I have to believe they wouldn't give false grades because of command pressure. It they did, they don't deserve to be commissioned officers. Kara did get special negative treatment. Releasing a mishap investigation to the public, as someone released hers, would normally be a court martial offense.

Enjoyed reading this book very much!
Beyond the crash that took LT Hultgreen's life. I liked walking away after reading this book thinking to myself "if I only had the focus and a dream early in my life like she did, there's no telling where I could have gone in life". I did serve in the Navy with LT Hultgreen at NAS Key West for 2 years(90-92)and remember her very well. She was and remains to be an inspiration to me.

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