Excerpt from Secret Honor by W.E.B. Griffin, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Secret Honor

by W.E.B. Griffin

Secret Honor
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jan 2000, 497 pages
    Paperback:
    Dec 2000, 624 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

ONE
Near Sidi Mansour, Tunisia
7 April 1943

A solitary Afrika Korps staff car - a small Mercedes convertible sedan - moved as quickly as it could across the desert. It had of course been painted in the Afrika Korps desert scheme: tan paint mimicked the color of the Tunisian desert, and crooked black lines on the hood and doors were intended to break up the form of the vehicle and make it harder to spot at a distance.

Nothing could be done, however, to keep the dust of the Tunisian desert road from boiling up beneath the wheels of the Mercedes and raising a cloud scores of feet into the air. If anyone was looking, the dust cloud formed an arrow pointing to the Mercedes.

And someone was looking - an American pilot in a P-51 Mustang.

The North American P51-C and -D aircraft used in the North African campaign were powered by a Packard version of the British Merlin engine. They had a top speed of 440 knots, and were armed with four .50-caliber Browning machine guns. Hardpoints in the wings permitted the use of droppable auxiliary fuel tanks and could also be used to carry 1,000-pound bombs.

Even at 500 feet and an indicated airspeed of 325 knots, it hadn't been hard for Captain Archer C. Dooley, Jr., U.S. Army Air Corps, to spot the boiling dust and then the Afrika Korps staff car that had caused it. "Oh, shit!" Captain Archer Dooley, Jr., said sadly.

Finding a Kraut staff car running unprotected across the desert did not please him. When young Archie Dooley first signed up to fly fighter aircraft, he expected to become a "Knight of the Sky" - flying mano a mano against other knights of the sky. He didn't expect to be killing people like cockroaches.

Fifteen months before, Archie Dooley had been the valedictorian of the 1942 class at St. Ignatius High School in Kansas City, Kansas. Six weeks before, he had been Second Lieutenant Dooley. He had come to Tunisia fresh from fighter school, looking forward to sweeping Nazi Messerschmitts from the skies with the four .50-caliber Brownings in the wings of his Mustang, much as Errol Flynn had swept the Dirty Hun from the skies over France in World War I in Dawn Patrol.

After which, with a little bit of luck, there would be a girl in the Officers' Club with an exciting French accent, long legs, long hair, and firm breasts, who would express her admiration for a Knight of the Sky in a carnal fashion.

It hadn't turned out that way.

For one thing, by the time Archie got to the squadron, the Allies had attained air superiority over the enemy. In other words, no German or Italian aircraft were left to be swept from the skies.

The day Archie reported in, the squadron commander had informed him that the 23rd Fighter Group had ordered the squadron to be engaged in ground support. That broke down into two missions: The first was to attack the enemy in front of American infantry and armor with either wing-mounted bombs or the .50-caliber Brownings. The second was reconnaissance and interdiction. This meant flying over enemy-held desert to see what you could see, and to interdict - which meant to shoot up - anything you found.

Second Lieutenant Archer Dooley, Jr.'s, first mission had been to fly wingman to the squadron commander on a two-plane reconnaissance and interdiction mission. At first, that had been sort of exciting . . . even fun. They had raced across the desert close to the ground at better than 300 knots, a maneuver flatly forbidden in flight school. Here it was perfectly acceptable.

Like drinking in the Officers' Club, even if you were a long way from being old enough to vote.

They had come across a railroad engine, puffing along tracks in the desert, dragging a line of boxcars. The squadron commander had signaled to Archie that they should engage the target. "Take the locomotive," he had ordered. "I'll get the boxcars."

Excerpted from Secret Honor, by W. E. B. Griffin. © January 10, 2000 , W. E. B. Griffin used by permission of the publisher. No part of this book can be reproduced without written permission from the publisher

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Opposite of Everyone
by Joshilyn Jackson

"Quirky and appealing characters, an engaging story, and honest dialogue make this a great book!"
- BookBrowse

About the book
Join the discussion!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: All We Have Left
    All We Have Left
    by Wendy Mills
    September 11, 2001 is a date that few Americans will ever forget. It was on this day that our ...
  • Book Jacket: A Great Reckoning
    A Great Reckoning
    by Louise Penny
    Canadian author Louise Penny is back with her twelfth entry in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache ...
  • Book Jacket: Homegoing
    Homegoing
    by Yaa Gyasi
    It's all very well to challenge people to be the masters of their own destiny, but when you&#...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Victoria
    by Daisy Goodwin

    Daisy Goodwin breathes new life into Victoria's story, and does so with sensitivity, verve, and wit." - Amanda Foreman

    Read Member Reviews

Who Said...

Courage - a perfect sensibility of the measure of danger, and a mental willingness to endure it.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay:
$400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.