Reviewing a book like Nightfighter: Radar Intercept Killer is always a challenge. How do you review, or criticize, a book about an American hero? Until reading Mark Magruder’s biography of his father, Marion “Mac” Magruder” I had never heard of the Nightfighter’s who fought in WWII. A Nightfighter is, by Mark’s definition, a “Fighter pilot specializing in radar intercept night warfare: a combatant.” It is highly impressive to consider a fighter pilot who engages in warfare at night, unable to see by the light of day, who relies solely on the accuracy of the instruments on the panel to guide him to victory and safety. I found the story itself impressive and admirable while the writing itself could have benefited from a proofreader or editor.
The story opens by summarizing Mac’s completion of high school and entrance into college. His high school principal advised him against college because he wasn’t designed for higher education and instead told him he would be well-suited to apply for a city job digging ditches. Upon encouragement from his mother Mac applied to college (at the University of Kentucky), enlisted in the ROTC program his freshman year and found that he felt a calling toward military life. He was highly recruited out of college by the Army, the Navy, and the Marines. The Marines hadn’t recruited from UK in 12 years and Mac eagerly accepted their assignment. Mac’s future seemed bright. He was a college graduate, engaged to his sweetheart Martha and heading off to bootcamp. I appreciated that Mark summarized this passage of time instead of delving deeply into Mac’s childhood and early life. When I read a book like Nightfighter, which is depicted as the story of a military hero, I am anxious to get into the heart of the military experiences. I was pleased to see that 75% of this book was about Mac’s time as a fighter pilot for the Marines.
The Nightfighter’s are an exceptionally talent group of military specialists. I was impressed by the stories and the missions that they completed while at war. I do not wish to spoil any of the book by providing details but work as a Nightfighter is exceptionally dangerous. These men have to navigate the ocean and the sky, through the dark, using only their instruments as guidance. Then, when the mission is complete, they must relocate a ship which has been continually moving in order to land their plane. I have nothing but the highest level of respect for these pilot heroes. Mac Magruder led his men, “Black Mac’s Killers” on missions deemed high-risk and potentially suicide missions. During the introduction the reader is given insight into the type of mission that Mac regularly led and which are often considered impossible. Somehow, Mac succeeds. He always succeeds. He led an incredible life and certainly deserves to be recognized for his heroic deeds.
My only issues with this book are with the writing and formatting errors. Nightfighter is published by Pelican Publishing but yet it was sent to print without being fully and properly edited. Throughout the book there was missing punctuation, misspellings, and even an instance where the spelling of a person’s name changed. Page 52 ends with a quote but yet page 53 begins in mid-sentence. I looked and couldn’t find where that sentence supposedly started so I had to read on and try to overlook the lapse in text. I can criticize a book for errors but I can’t criticize a story. Mac’s story is incredible and deserves to be recognized as remarkable.
Review by Ashley LaMarClosed the Cover