A CERTAIN BROTHERHOOD
AbeBooks Seller Since July 8, 1998Quantity Available: 1
AbeBooks Seller Since July 8, 1998Quantity Available: 1
About this Item
Title: A CERTAIN BROTHERHOOD
Publisher: Cricket Press
Publication Date: 1996
Binding: Soft cover
Book Condition:Near Fine
Dust Jacket Condition: No Dustjacket
Signed: Incribed by Author
Edition: First Ed.
Book Type: Book
About this title
A Certain Brotherhood
For as long as Mitch McCall could remember, he had wanted to follow in his father's footsteps as an Air Force pilot. In pilot training, Mitch nearly crashes a supersonic T-38. He walks away from the incident but can't shake off the resulting phobia about landings.
The Vietnam War escalates, and Mitch volunteers for combat as a forward air controller. FACs fly single-engine Cessnas over enemy territory and look for targets for armed fighter aircraft. Mitch accepts the new dangers in a make-or-break attempt to beat his fears.
In Thailand, he is teamed with Captain James D. (J.D.) Dalton. J.D. is a few years older than Mitch--but many years more experienced in almost everything. As a teenager, J.D. had idolized the ill-fated actor, James Dean. Now, almost a decade later, J.D. still lives by some of the actor's philosophies and flies his small Cessna as if this life were just a step toward whatever comes next.
In Hanoi, famed North Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap is plotting a bold operation. If successful, his armies will overrun the U.S. Marines at Khe Sanh during the upcoming Tet offensive. His plan depends heavily on battle-hardened veteran Colonel Le Van Do. Le commands Battlefield C, North Vietnam's secret operations in Laos. Battlefield C contains much of the Ho Chi Minh Trail and is patrolled from the air almost every day by Mitch and J.D.
In late January 1968, the Communist forces launch a massive offensive during the Tet truce. The fate of thousands of American Marines at Khe Sanh depends on whether Mitch discovers the secret that Colonel Le Van Do has concealed beneath the 200-foot tall trees of the Laotian jungles.
If someone asks me what it was like to have 'been there--done that,' all I have to do is hand them this book.
-- Charles (Chic) Randow, Nail 68 at NKP
Jimmie H. Butler, Colonel, USAF, Retired, combined combat experience flying Cessnas over the jungles of Southeast Asia with months of research in USAF archives. The result is his third novel, A Certain Brotherhood, an exciting insider's view of the Secret War over the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Combat-veteran readers of the two print editions confirm Butler got it right with an authenticity that blends fact and fiction inseparably. More than 20 photographs taken by the author, combat photographers, or photo reconnaissance aircraft are included.
A Certain Brotherhood is rooted in 1967 when I flew Cessnas in combat over the Ho Chi Minh Trail through Laos during the Vietnam War. While I attended the Air War College in 1979-1980, I researched and wrote a book-length report about air interdiction operations over the Ho Chi Minh Trail. That effort was characterized by a member of the Air Force Office of History as probably the best account of the day-to-day lives of Forward Air Controllers we'll see out of the Vietnam War. Unfortunately the report got hung up in the declassification process and was never published as I was told it would be when I wrote it. And I would differ with the Office of History's characterization, as several FACs have written non-fiction accounts that provide many more insights into what the FAC world was all about. And A Certain Brotherhood, although written as fact-based fiction, is a better account, as well.
While working on the interdiction manuscript, I sent about 90 pages of the draft to Dr. Patrick Sweeney, of the University of Dayton. Pat and I had flown together as FACs in the 23rd Tactical Support Squadron. Pat said he stood at his kitchen counter and read the entire 90 pages without stopping. His conclusion: we needed to write a novel. Until that time I had never considered writing novels. At Christmastime in 1980, Pat and I and Jerry Dwyer (who was shot down twice in O-2s after I left NKP) sat down over some take-out Chinese food and plot-outlined a potential novel about Forward Air Controllers over the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
As might be expected, three guys trying to put together a novel from different locations and perspectives wasn't likely to work. After a couple of us put together some pages that didn't match up well, we split up the effort. I took the main pieces I had brought to the effort, and Pat and Jerry continued their part. Some years later, they published Nail. When I arrived for my combat tour in February 1967, the call sign for our FAC squadron was Nail. I flew initially as Nail 59, then flew as Nail 12 on most of my missions.
My move to an assignment in California and enrolling in the Master of Professional Writing program at USC led me into the techno-thriller genre/market. The novel about flying Cessnas over the Ho Chi Minh Trail remained a goal, and I continued working on the plot for a 2-book series. After the success of Iskra and Red Lightning, I had a powerful agent in New York for a while. He submitted a proposal to about a dozen New York agents and got pretty much identical responses. There was no market for Vietnam novels in the mid-90s. A number of readers have since expressed dismay at that assessment. I believe the assessment reflected more on the interests of NY editors than upon the interests of the thousands of Vietnam veterans.
I continued writing on the project and working it through Paul Gillette's Workshop for Professional Writers. I decided to combine the two books into one as-yet-unnamed novel. The title came from a discussion over dinner one evening with Paul, two other writers, and me. I talked about how I was trying to come up with a title that would capture the dedication, heroism, and camaraderie of American pilots in a secret war that most Americans had learned little about. At the previous workshop meeting, a new Air Force officer had joined, and I had taken the lead in explaining things to him during the breaks. Over dinner, Paul thanked me for helping since Paul was always busy, even during the breaks. I responded with something like, "That's okay. It's a certain brotherhood." One of the women said, "There's your title." And she was right.
The manuscript languished without any editorial interest. In 1996 my sister, Jacque Sue, asked why we didn't self-publish the novel. I told her that self-publishing the novel wouldn't make any money. She didn't care. It had been a few years since she had a new novel to give out as Christmas presents, and she just wanted A Certain Brotherhood to give out.
So I did the editing and put together the layout. Jacque wanted pictures to be a part of A Certain Brotherhood. She had always been a voracious reader, but I reminded her anyway that novels didn't normally include pictures. She had closely followed my time away in the war, and she understood better than many what the role of Forward Air Controllers had been. She believed readers would not grasp the significance of the FAC part of A Certain Brotherhood if they didn't visualize that these dangerous feats were being accomplished in small unarmed Cessnas. Jacque was right, so I included a number of photos in the layout.
Jacque also wanted a glossary to help her keep the terms straight since so much of the book is in the lingo of the men who were flying those small Cessnas. I explained to her that Paul had taught me to always make clear what a word meant, either with a direct explanation or by implying the meaning within the surrounding context. She understood that but pointed out that when she encountered the word again a hundred pages later, she didn't know where to find that original explanation. So I included a glossary many readers find helpful. The glossary wasn't included in the hardcover edition in 2000, but I have returned it to the 2011 eBook editions.
My profile includes a picture of Jacque and me with a copy of the original edition of A Certain Brotherhood. She's responsible for the book reaching readers years before it ever would have otherwise.
One thing I love about self-publishing is that I had a printed copy in hand within two weeks of turning over the final manuscript to the printer. When I turned in the final manuscript for The Iskra Incident, the wait was more than a year and a half. We contracted for 3,500 trade-paperback copies under the imprint of Cricket Press. The black cricket in the logo is identical to the cricket the maintenance troops stenciled onto every O-1 and O-2 flown by the 23rd TASS and probably on the OV-10s in later years.
For much of my tour I roomed with my good friend, Charles "Chic" Randow. When I had a good draft in the mid-90s, I sent him a copy. His first response was, "You have to tell Judy I'm not J.D." When you read A Certain Brotherhood, you'll understand. Chic also told me that he gave the copy to his father to read so that he would understand what our shared combat tour had been about. After the novel was published, Chic told me he'd given a copy to his son so that he would understand. Those exchanges confirm to me that I got it right. They also give some additional insight to Chic's words I have included in various places among readers' comments.
Because A Certain Brotherhood was published despite the rejections in New York, many readers have learned much about the secret war over the Ho Chi Minh Trail from an insider's point of view. A new veterans' organization named The Thailand-Laos-Cambodia Brotherhood (tlc-brotherhood.org/) formed in 1997 as a result of the publishing of A Certain Brotherhood. The TLC Brotherhood has helped many veterans gain a new pride in their service to America of supporting military operations from, in, and over Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia during the Vietnam War. A major activity of the TLC Brotherhood has been to provide humanitarian assistance in those countries on behalf of those Americans who did not return from Southeast Asia with us. Support is provided mostly to help children by donating, food, equipment, etc., to schools, orphanages, schools for the deaf or blind. Virtually all donations collected to directly to such projects. As of the end of December 2010, the TLC Brotherhood members and supporters have provided more than $295,000 in assistance on behalf of those who didn't return with us. The TLC Brotherhood website provides more details on the humanitarian assistance and other information of interest to SEA veterans and readers of A Certain Brotherhood.
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