Author: Sam McGowan
Publisher: 1st Book Library (2002)
Binding: Paperback, 208 pages
The story of an Air Force enlisted man shot down over Laos during the Vietnam War. A cave explorer and marksman, Samuel Tobin Carter discovers a cave and uses it as sanctuary from which to wage his own personal war.
MWSA 2004 Bronze Medal for Non-fiction, History
This is one of those adventure stories that you can picture yourself in as you read the book. Sam McGowan delivers a riveting tale in his novel, “The Cave.” This is not your normal atypical Vietnam War novel—this is a real adventure story. It will keep you glued to the pages. This is a great story from a master story teller. The author crafts a wonderful weave of words and imagery to develop the story line and to keep the action moving.
I think most of us old aviation veterans, from whatever wars, all have had this personal question as to what it would be like to be shot down and then scramble around hiding and evading. I was shot down several times in Vietnam but only once did I have to escape and evade for longer than 6 hours. I can personally tell you that the old heart gets to pounding so loud that you think every NVA or VC will hear it from a mile away. This is that same kind of feeling in this book. I could feel the hero’s heart beating as I turned the pages in this book!
It's 1966 - 20-year old Toby Carter is flying as a C-130 crewmember on hazardous Blind Bat flare missions over the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos and North Vietnam. When the young Tennessean is shot down, he falls back on his boyhood experiences in the Tennessee woods and as a cave explorer to survive. Knowing that Laos is a "karst" region where caves abound, he has prepared himself for the eventuality of finding a cave to hide in until he can be rescued. But when he discovers that he is in a hotbed of enemy activity, which makes his chances of rescue unlikely, he sets out to explore the cave. During his explorations Carter makes a surprising discovery that gives him the means to declare his own personal war against the North Vietnamese, particularly the gun crew that shot him down.
The Cave is an exciting story that puts the reader in the cockpit and in the back of a C-130 during one of the most continually dangerous missions of the Vietnam War during the first chapters. Then it switches to the ground in Laos. The Cave not only tells the story of the Blind Bat C-130 flareships, it also brings into it the role played by USAF photo interpreters and special operations MC-130 crews.
Reviewed by: Bill McDonald (2004)