Best 1957 Adventures (4)

By: Joshua Glenn
July 27, 2017

One in a series of 10 posts identifying Josh Glenn’s favorite 1957 adventure novels. Happy 60th anniversary!


James Salter’s combat adventure The Hunters.

Cleve Connell, Air Force fighter pilot, arrives in Korea with the goal of shooting down five MIGs — and thereby becoming an ace. Though he flies many combat missions (which are described thrillingly and gorgeously), he can’t rack up any kills… is he a coward? Unlucky? He and his fellow pilots — particularly Pell, a charming but ruthless lieutenant — compete viciously to achieve ace status; some of their kills put their comrades in danger; but Connell won’t do that. Whether 40,000 feet above the Yalu River, or in fighter pilot bars and hotels on the ground, he wages a battle for his own soul. Is winning everything… or is it all about how you play the game? Flying becomes an existentialist test of character.

Fun fact: Considered one of the best flying novels of all time. Adapted in 1958 as a movie starring Robert Mitchum and Robert Wagner. Mark Kingwell tells us: “Robert Wagner is actually pretty good as a hipster, slang-slinging version of Lt. Pell.”


Let me know if I’ve missed any 1957 adventures that you particularly admire.


Adventure, Lit Lists