Basher Five-Two: The True Story of F-16 Fighter Pilot Captain Scott O’Grady



Book: Basher Five-Two: The True Story of F-16 Fighter Pilot Captain Scott O’Grady

Author: Scott O’Grady, with Michael French

Publisher: Yearling, republished 1998

ISBN-13: 978-0385323000 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 038532300X Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-0440413134 Paperback

ISBN-10: 0440413133 Paperback

Related website(s): (publisher)

Language level: 2

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level: Ages 10 and up

Rating: ***** 5 stars

(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Disclosure:  Many publishers, literary agents, and/or authors provide free copies of their books in exchange for an honest review without requiring a positive opinion.  Any books donated to Home School Book Review for review purposes are in turn donated to a library.  No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.

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O’Grady, Scott, with French, MichaelBasher Five-Two: The True Story of F-16 Fighter Pilot Captain Scott O’Grady (Published in 1997 by Bantam Doubleday Dell Books for Young Readers, a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc., 1540 Broadway, New York City, NY  10016; republished in 1998 by Yearling Books, New York City, NY).  On June 2, 1995, 29-year-old U.S. Air Force Captain Scott O’Grady was shot down in his F-16 by a Serbian 2K12 Kub mobile SAM land missile over Bosnia while flying his 47th mission over to help keep the peace in the former Yugoslavia. The plane exploded, and Captain O’Grady parachuted five miles to the ground below into hostile territory.  In exciting detail, Captain O’Grady tells the events of his six-day, harrowing adventure, relating how he evaded capture and how, with little water and no food, he was able to survive on his own in enemy territory. Basher Five-Two was O’Grady’s “call sign” for the mission.  He managed to avoid enemy detection, protect himself from the elements, and subsist on a diet of leaves, ants, and rainwater.  The memoir ends with a satisfying account of O’Grady’s rescue and subsequent treatment as a national hero.   Black-and-white photos appear in a 16-page center insert.

Scott Francis O’Grady was born on October 12, 1965.   To create suspense, the narrative is interspersed with relevant aspects of O’Grady’s childhood and military training throughout the book.  There is no attempt to sensationalize the fascinating events, and the reader gets a clear sense of the author’s strength of character and will to survive.  This is the kind of story that kids should be assigned in school instead of the junk that is on so many reading lists and would be a great book for reluctant readers.   As a United States Air Force fighter pilot, O’Grady accumulated more than 1,300 military flying hours, including over 1,000 in the F-16 for the U. S. Air Force Reserve.  Basher Five-Two appears to be a version for young people of his New York Times bestseller Return with Honor, written with Jeff Coplon, which provides a candid, more detailed, inside account of his ordeal, struggle for survival, and rescue.  The 2001 film Behind Enemy Lines is loosely based upon his experiences.

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