A singular life often circles around a singular moment, an occasion when one’s life in the world is defined forever and the emotional vocabulary set. For the extraordinary writer James Salter, this moment was contained in the fighter planes over Korea where, during his young manhood, he flew more than one hundred missions. As The New York Times noted, “It isn’t often that a writer of superlative skills knows enough about flying to write well about it; Saint-Exupery was one; Salter is another.”
James Salter is considered one of America’s greatest prose stylists. The Arm of Flesh (later revised and retitled Cassada) and his first novel, The Hunters, are legendary in military circles for their descriptions of flying and aerial combat. A former Air Force pilot who flew F-86 fighters in Korea, Salter writes with matchless insight about the terror and exhilaration of the pilot’s life.
The editors, William and Jessica Benton, have gathered selections from a journal Salter kept during the Korean War, published here for the first time, and assembled selections from two novels, The Hunters and Cassada, and from the author’s celebrated memoir, Burning the Days.