Rolling Thunder: An Historical Novel of War and Politics

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Mark Berent, 1989 - History - 382 pages
2 Reviews
A taut, exciting tale of good men in a bad war - Vietnam. A novel of exceptional authenticity as the author is a decorated Vietnam pilot.

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User Review  - JPodlaski - LibraryThing

Mark Berent's book, Rolling Thunder not only tells a war story, but educates readers who are not familiar with the terminology and routines of pilots during the Vietnam War. I learned a lot and ... Read full review

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You'd never know this is the first book by the author and veteran fighter pilot Mark Berent. His characters are believable and his story telling is rife with the authenticity of some one who'd been there. Through this and his follow-up books, Berent expertly weaves the experiences of his main characters through many of the historical events of the Vietnam war. This is a must for any reader who wants to see the Vietnam war accurately through the eyes of Air Force Personnel who lived it. 


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About the author (1989)

Lt Col Mark E. Berent, USAF (Ret), was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He graduated from  Cretin High School in St. Paul, Minnesota, attended St. Thomas College and later graduated from Arizona State University under the Air Force Institute of Technology program with a BSME.


Berent began his Air Force career as an enlisted man, then entered the aviation cadet program. He attended pilot training at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi and Laredo Air Force Base, Texas flying the T-6, T-28, and T-33 aircraft. He moved on to F-86 Sabre Jet at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. He served on active duty for 23 years until retirement in 1974. He began his operational flying career in the F-86 and F-100 flying at various posts throughout the United States and Europe. He later served three combat tours, completing 452 combat sorties flying the F-100 at Bien Hoa Air Base, South Vietnam, next the F-4 at Ubon Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand. After those tours, he was stationed in Phnom Penh, Cambodia for two years to fly things with propellers on them and through a fluke in communications timing, to personally run the air war for a few weeks from a most unusual place.

He has also served two tours at the United States Space and Missile System Organization (SAMSO) at Los Angeles, California working first in the Satellites Control Facility and later as a staff developmental engineer for the space shuttle. In his expansive career he has seen service as an Air Attaché to the United States Embassy, Phnom Penh, Cambodia and also as Chief of Test Control Branch at the Air Development and Test Center at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. He also served as an instructor at the Air Force's Squadron Officer School.

During his flying career he has logged over 4300 hours of flying time, 1084 of those in combat missions in the F-100, F-4, C-47 and U-10 over North and South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. He has flown 30 different aircraft.

His decorations include the Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with one oak leaf cluster, Bronze Star, Air Medal with twenty four oak leaf clusters, Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, Cambodian Divisional Medal, and numerous Vietnam Campaign ribbons. He completed jump school with the Special Forces. Later, he jumped with and was awarded Cambodian paratrooper wings. He also flew with and received Cambodian pilot wings.

After leaving the Air Force he lived in Europe to establish and direct international operations for the sale of spares for military aircraft. He has flown many foreign aircraft such as the Swedish Viggen and Royal Air Force Jaguar and Hawk. He also established Berent and Woods Inc, a firm that managed many aviation related activities.

Over the years he had published numerous articles for such publications as Air Force Magazine and the Washington Times, and for 18 years wrote a monthly pilot/reporter column for the Asian Defense Journal. Under the name Berent Sandberg he and Peter Sandberg collaborated on three novels. He now has five Vietnam air war historical fiction novels in print, Rolling Thunder, Steel Tiger, Phantom Leader, Eagle Station, and Storm Flight. (The Wings of War series.)

Berent states it is never too late for any endeavor: he published the first of his five book Wings of War series at age 58, ran his first Marathon at 59, bought a T-6 warbird and flew in airshows at 64, and rode in his first cattle roundup in Montana at 74. He was inducted into the Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame in 2012.

Berent says: “There is the dark side of why I am a military writer. The dark side that surfaces in untoward moments when bad memories spring unbidden from a well I try to keep capped. Moments when others, not of the sky, hear my harsh laughter and see the frost in my eyes. It is the side that bears extreme malice and near-consuming rage toward those who wasted the lives of my fellow airmen on missions that accomplished little except strengthen the enemy's resolve. Missions that gratified only the arrogant civilian Caesars who, at White House luncheons, picked not only the targets but the bomb loads and the ingress and egress routes as well. It is the side that detests those members of the media who trivialized and scorned our efforts; it is the side that despises that wretched movie female who sat at an enemy antiaircraft gun, made broadcasts from Hanoi, and called our tortured POWs liars; it is the side that bears hard anger toward some of our own men in uniform who saw war only as a career enhancing program. It is also of these contemptible people I am compelled to write.”



"Powerful!" --- Publishers Weekly 

"The pride of the Air Force. The challenge of Vietnam." 

"A taut, exciting tale of good men in a bad war. Berent is the real thing." --- Tom Clancy 

"Rolling Thunder is terrific - a novel of exceptional authenticity that hits like a thunderclap. A decorated Vietnam pilot, Mark Berent knows planes and men and battle, and he whirls them around in a story of uncommon strength. I can't wait for his next book." --- W.E.B. Griffin, best-selling author of Brotherhood of War and The Corps 

"Mark Berent writes with great authority and utter realism, immersing the reader in his characters' every sensation and emotion." --- Dale Brown, best-selling author of Flight of the Old Dog and Silver Tower 

"The fighter pilot's war - you love it and hate it at the same time, and Mark Berent writes it that way." --- Stephen Coonts, best-selling author of Flight of the Intruder 

"Berent tells it like it was!" --- Chuck Yeager 

"The best Vietnam air novel I have read. Berent captures the essence of flying men at war, their agony, emotions, courage, and triumph." --- Brigadier General Robin Olds


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