He was a teenager when he left his Minnesota home in 1943 to learn to fly. By the end of World War II, he was a battle-worn Marine bomber pilot who'd survived scores of missions in the Pacific. With stunning eloquence and breathtaking clarity, Samuel Hynes, Woodrow Wilson Professor of Literature at Princeton University, recaptures those extraordinary years: the tough flight-training over makeshift airfields; the rich camaraderie nurtured in cockpits and gin mills; the bawdy romantic escapades; the wives and sweethearts left behind. He evokes the madness of war, the exhilaration and tedium, and the absurd horror of seeing friends fall. And finally, he writes of the wonder of flying -- that exquisite harmony between pilot and machine, as the specter of sudden death flickers on the horizon. Hynes' memoir is no commonplace combat tale, but a powerful personal odyssey...one man's special rite of passage in that timeless world of innocence gone to war.