bLACK LION ONE REVIEWS

Black Lion One: The Resurrection and Ascension of the Black Lions - Saga of Captain John “Hawk” Smith is a work of non-fiction that chronicles military events, and was penned by author Donald E. Auten. Focusing specifically on fighter pilots in the US Navy, this gripping work forms a biographical account of John Monroe Smith, known as Hawk, continuing the story from Roger Ball! into this new sequel. Showcasing all of his natural charisma and tactical talent for the job, Hawk is called in during the terrible war in Vietnam to deliver much-needed assistance. Joining the Black Lions Squadron brings many challenges and exciting times which Auten recounts with vivid details.

Author Donald E. Auten has put together a true tribute with excellent and accurate information that any military and/or flight enthusiast is sure to enjoy reading. The technical terminology and explanations of different squadrons, deployments and detachments are all included with vivid and intricate details, so fellow Navy pilots will relish those references as it brings the past back to life. I also enjoyed how the author brought the character of Hawk to the fore, seeing him for more than his achievements, but also his personality and how he handled such pressures in his life. The triumphs and losses are well described with almost cinematic levels of depiction in the author’s evocative words, and overall this makes Black Lion One a truly immersive read from cover to cover. A recommended and accomplished work of biography.

K.C. Finn

Black Lion One: The Resurrection and Ascension of the Black Lions - Saga of Captain John “Hawk” Smith by Donald E. Auten is a fascinating blend of military and adventure and while it is a non-fiction narrative, it sounds true. The reader is pulled into the life, psychology and fighting spirit of one of the greatest Navy fighter pilots of all time: John Monroe “Hawk” Smith. Vietnam was a nightmare to the US tactical forces. With challenges including the rules of engagement to the unconventional tactics of the enemy, the Black Lions rose to innovative heights to respond to the demands of the time. This narrative captures the fighting and daring spirit of one man who left a lifelong legacy that will forever be remembered. Follow Captain Smith through the daily stress of the Navy fighter, the unforeseeable challenges, the frustrations, and the leadership spirit he demonstrated through trying and difficult moments.

Donald E. Auten takes readers into the psyche of the legendary fighter, allowing them to experience the thrill of military action. One has the impression that the author writes from inside knowledge, capturing the fever of the experiences of the protagonist with unusual vividness. The writing is gorgeous and the narrative filled with action. This is one of those stories that I want to experience in a documentary. While it tells the story of one of America’s greatest heroes, it also gives powerful insights into the art of war, the thrills and perils of flying fighter jets, and a lot more. Black Lion One: The Resurrection and Ascension of the Black Lions - Saga of Captain John “Hawk” Smith is beautifully written, well-researched, and filled with inspiration. A sublime tale of adventure, leadership, and patriotism.

Ruffina Oserio

Black Lion ONE by Donald E. Auten is a non-fiction military biography of an elite Naval pilot named Captain John “Hawk” Smith. It is the sequel to the author's first book, Roger Ball!, which chronicles the earlier years of Hawk's career, although this installment reads comfortably as a stand-alone. The book begins with a brief history of Hawk's military career and the role he played in the rollout of the famed Grumman F-14 Tomcat. Despite his successes, Hawk had plenty who were keen to cut him down, with an investigation brought on via JAG against Hawk and TOPGUN. Later, Hawk is deployed in multiple locations on aircraft carriers alongside his Black Lion team, culminating with a return home that makes him question whether or not he wishes to continue his Naval career.

Black Lion ONE is an interesting look into the life of a top-ranking military pilot, and Donald E. Auten does a good job of piecing together the story of Captain John “Hawk” Smith. As far as aviation biographies go, this one is among the most intricate. I really loved the descriptions of time spent and life on board the USS Enterprise and Nimitz, particularly as I had an uncle who was deployed on the same carriers and had the opportunity to tour the Enterprise as a wide-eyed child. There is no question that Hawk embodies what it means to be a faithful and patriotic American, one who served with distinction and honor. I'm grateful to have been able to read his story and imagine others with interest in military non-fiction will appreciate the same.

Asher Syed