From Both Sides Now provides the rare insight of author Harry Stevenson's experiences as an Army officer thrust into combat in Vietnam and his subsequent transition into the Air Force as a fighter pilot. While his experiences in Vietnam alone were fascinating and made an interesting story, being an air force vet myself, I found Stevenson's career in the Air Force fascinating. It seemed to me he was one of the few officers with whom the Air Force got it right and utilized his talents to their full potential. Jump qualified and very experienced with army combat tactics, Stevenson had assignments in the F-4 and A-10 with a focus in close air support, along with a variety of joint jobs that had him coordinating tactics and policy between the Army and the Air Force. Anyone with an interest in learning more about the Vietnam war, careers in the military, and family life in the service of one's country should find this book interesting. After reading this book, one can't help but want to thank Colonel Stevenson for his service to the United States.
Review by Bob Doerr (July 2018)
From hot, sweaty, often bloody infantry battles in Vietnam to high-altitude supersonic fighter engagements in the Middle East lasting only seconds, Steve Stevenson mixed two disparate careers into one. Not appreciated at home, Steve and the Vietnam era troops performed every challenging task assigned. Many of the painful Vietnam problems were corrected in Middle East conflicts twenty years later by senior leaders who fought as junior officers in Vietnam.
Known by his Air Force call sign “Grunt” in F-4s, he pushed the importance of and need for Close Air Support for the ground troops, to an extent that occasionally got him in trouble. Steve takes you into the life of young paratroopers in combat, into the mostly untold lives and actions of US Special Forces, into the rowdy squadrons and cramped cockpits of fighter pilots. Along the way, he preaches Jointness and inter-service cooperation, accepted by the “boots on the ground”, but often opposed by the parochialism of senior leaders in all services. The generals often talk a good game until it comes down to their dollars.
From the Vietnam War, Yom Kippur War, Turkish Invasion of Cyprus, Desert Storm to “black” special ops, Steve volunteered for or was at the right place at the right time. He captures the comradeship, dedication, and patriotism of these warriors and their families, raucous parties and the heartbreak of friends lost.
Steve believed people were his greatest assets and rewarded his troops, sometimes when it may have been unauthorized. But, higher headquarters never knew. Ms. Joni Mitchell’s 1967 song “Both Sides Now” seems a perfect summary of Steve’s unique career.
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle
Review Genre: Nonfiction—Memoir/Biography
Number of Pages: 396