Skip to main content

Book Review: A Hundred Feet Over Hell by Jim Hooper

A Hundred Feet Over Hell by Jim Hooper is a very personal story about the Vietnam War experience, told mostly from the mouths of the men who lived it. The "Catkillers" of the 220th Reconnaissance Airplane Company were forward air controllers operating in the most hostile environment in Vietnam: the so-called "Demilitarized Zone," which was anything but demilitarized. These men flew in two-seat, propeller-driven Cessna O-1 Bird Dogs, at low speeds and low altitudes, directing field artillery against enemy targets and controlling air strikes. Through an extensive amount of research and numerous detailed interviews, Hooper manages to present a clear picture of life in the I Corps and DMZ during the Vietnam War ~ the battles and the personal struggles, the way these men were changed forever.

I have to start my review by saying that I highly doubt I'm the target audience for this particular book. Yes, I enjoy historical fiction and memoirs. But I would not normally pick up a true story about a war. I've read novels and memoirs related to World War II, but they were about civilians living through the war, not the military actually fighting in it. Despite all that, I really loved this book.

A Hundred Feet Over Hell was a much easier read than I had expected, and I felt like I really got to know these men through Hooper's storytelling. Reading this book was like watching a war movie. It was full of action "scenes" where Catkiller pilots are flying over the DMZ taking enemy fire, while relaying vital information about troop locations, and guiding fighter pilots to fire at the VC troops while avoiding the friendlies. It amazes me that these men survived in these planes that had no armor and no real weapons. Their planes were riddled with bullet holes, yet they continued to fly right into the middle of battles so they could save the men on the ground. I loved the fact that Hooper devoted an entire chapter to the perspective of those men on the ground whose lives were saved by the Catkillers.

Hooper also weaved in plenty of personal accounts of the men who were there ~ their memories of their first days, their first flights, their first kills. He described, through their words and memories, the time they spent away from the battlefield, drinking beer, joking with each other, trying to have some normalcy in the wake of war:
We took hits, but luck saw them pass through our aircraft without striking flesh or engine, and we returned to Dong Ha to count the holes, play a few hands of poker, and prepare the next day's mission. War was our life. It was what we did. ~ p45
There is a lot of jargon in the book, so Hooper provides a glossary in the back. But I only referred to it a few times. I didn't find it difficult to keep up with the acronyms and military terminology at all. If you enjoy war movies and stories, I highly recommend this book. And if you are a history buff, especially if you're interested in the Vietnam War, I'd say this is a must read. The first-person accounts make you feel like you're part of the action!

My Rating: 5/5

For more information about author Jim Hooper, whose own brother was one of the Catkillers, visit

This review was written based on a copy of A Hundred Feet Over Hell that I received from Lisa Roe at Online Publicist.


  1. I dont think I would be the target audience either for this one. I am not much of a war buff - fact or fiction.

    Looks like you enjoyed it though - great review :)


Post a Comment

Thanks for stopping by! I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Popular posts from this blog

Freedom to Read Giveaway Hop

I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Mundie Moms are hosting the Freedom to Read Giveaway Hop in honor of Independence Day in the United States, and I've decided to participate.

To stick with the theme of Independence Day, I'm doing what I did last year for this hop:

I'm giving away a book of your choice that is written by an author from the United States.
It can be any genre as long as the author is from the United States. You choose the book (up to $15), and I'll order it and have it mailed to you from Book Depository.

The contest ends on Thursday, July 5th at midnight Eastern Time. The winner will be notified by e-mail. If they do not respond within 48 hours, a new winner will be drawn.

Happy 4th of July! I hope you have a safe and fun holiday!

Enter here:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Now check out all of the other giveaways you can enter at the links below!

Leap into Books Giveaway Hop!

This week, I'm participating in the Leap into Books Giveaway Hop hosted by I'm a Reader, Not a Writer.

I'm giving away a book of your choice 
up to $10 from Book Depository.
It's that simple. Just visit  Book Depository and choose any book that is selling for $10 or less.

This giveaway is open to international entries as long as Book Depository ships to your address (click here to check). The contest ends on Monday, March 5, 2012, at midnight Eastern Time. The winner will be picked using and notified by e-mail. If they do not respond within 48 hours, a new winner will be drawn. To enter, just leave a comment telling me what book you want to win.

Check out all the other participants in the giveaway hop!

Getting back to blogging

It seems that blogging has dropped to the bottom of my list for the past year, and was pretty low for the year or two prior to that. I love to read, and am continuing to do so, but as my regular readers know I haven't been around much. My last blog post was almost a year ago!!

There are many things that have taken me away from blogging. Work has been much more challenging and interesting these past few years, but that means I really don't want to get back on the computer when I get home at night - or on the weekends.

Family life has been more busy with kids having multiple activities in the evenings, leaving little time to just hang out and write about the books that I read.

I will admit to a bit of a Facebook addiction, which means way too much time spent scrolling through my newsfeed instead of doing something more productive. This is one of the things I'm working on and hoping that this will free up some time for getting back to the blog.

Overall, life is good. Work is …