• To the Limit

  • An Air Cav Huey Pilot in Vietnam
  • By: Tom A. Johnson
  • Narrated by: David Drummond
  • Length: 13 hrs and 57 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (522 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From June 1967 to June 1968, Tom Johnson accumulated an astonishing 1,600 flying hours piloting the UH-1 "Iroquois" - better known as the "Huey" - as part of the famous First Air Cavalry Division. His battalion was one of the most decorated units of the Vietnam War, and helped redefine modern warfare. 

Johnson's riveting memoir takes us into key battles and rescue missions, including those for Hue and Khe Sanh. In harrowing detail, he tells of being shot down in the battle of A Shau Valley, of surviving enemy attacks during the Tet Offensive, and of a death-defying nighttime river rescue, in which only the bare feet of soldiers hanging off the Huey's skids kept the helicopter from plunging under water. From dangerous missions to narrow escapes, Johnson's memoir vividly captures the adrenaline rush and the horror of war, and takes you on a ride you'll never forget.

©2006 Potomac Books, Inc. (P)2018 Tantor

What listeners say about To the Limit

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Huey pilot's perspective of the 67-68 Vietnam war.

Very interesting diary of a chopper pilot's year tour with the First Air Cav. Shows how a tour over there during that war would ALWAYS have the neverending heat and humidity and "that smell" of "The Nam". How your life would vary from relaxed partying with buddies getting drunk at the club to the sheer gut wrenching fear of having your helicopter shot at at night, grossly overloaded with troops you are delivering to battle and knowing that there would be no place to safely land in the triple canopy jungle below and survive, to watching a friend (who you have grown to love as a brother) die in a tangle of bodies, fire, twisting rotors, and flying tracers as his helicopter crashed... all in the matter of hours. And having to endure this for reasons for America being there you aren't really sure of but you still volunteered and took your 19-23 year old self over there despite your schoolmates and even family members protesting and demonstrating the war back home. Everyone that went over there came back...changed.

9 people found this helpful

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Intense. Horrifying. Inspiring.

From an Air Cav pilot who came later: many heartfelt thanks to Mr. Johnson and those like him who gave their all to the struggle. Thank you for your service and sacrifice. You will be remembered!

7 people found this helpful

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A Book That Builds On You

I was telling someone about half-way through my listen that this book was straight-up porn for helicopter pilots. I expected crazy battles and hot LZ's, but there wasn't a lot of that in here. A lot of it was about life in Vietnam the relationships Mr. Johnson had. That said, the way it was told just grows on you. Almost to the point where you feel like you were a cousin or a good friend of the author's. There are some truly nail-biting moments in the book, and the recall the author had was truly tremendous (though there was a moment he referred to Creighton Abrams as "Creighton Adams," but I can overlook that). The book ends so abruptly (following the most interesting tale of the book), that all I immediately started researching more about the author and found almost literally nothing. When I discovered he had passed away not long after publication (or somewhere thereabout; it was a very cursory search), I felt like I wanted to give his widow a call and express my sincere condolences.

Overall, a very interesting book that I devoured. I complained at times, but in the end, it was absolutely worth the purchase. Chickenhawk, it ain't, but that's just alright.

4 people found this helpful

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One of the worse books around

The narration and story were difficult to follow. The use of a poor stereotype accent is embarrassing to hear.

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Very Well Written

I really enjoyed this book. The author goes into great detail on flying helicopters on a mission I found it very interesting to know everything that is going on when coming into a landing zone under fire. I found this detail very interesting and really enjoyable.

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Please - stop the corny Southern drawl

Excellent story of a Huey pilot in early Vietnam (1967-68). Lots of action and incredible stories of survival. But as a guy who grew up in Georgia, like the author, the twangy hillbilly performance was VERY off-putting - a major distraction from the story.

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Excellent detail

Rich in procedural detail. The kind of book historians will be grateful to have long after vets are gone. The story itself is compelling and the descriptions vivid. You feel like you are a passenger in the Huey.

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Best book on audible about helicopters in Vietnam

I am a total devotee of audible books. My compliments to David Drummond for his narration of this excellent book. Drummond makes the story come to life. From now on I will search out any book read by Mr. Drummond. It in my opinion that the narration is as important as the writing and here it excels.

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Outstanding Vietnam War Memoir

Narration: Perfect except for irritating high pitched, almost falsetto voice of principal character, which, thankfully, is infrequent, because the narrator speaks 98% of the time.

Content: Informative, detailed description of helicopter operational dynamics is outstanding. Personal recollection of particular engagements harrowing and exciting, but also unavoidably melancholy.

I have listened to a Vietnam War memoir no better than this. I have listened to about 20. So far, this one is the leader of the pack.

Highly recommended.

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Takes me back

Listening to this book put me back in the hell hole were i crewed for many years .many memories were good and I enjoyed my years maintaining this stuff acft.☺

1 person found this helpful

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  • D. B. Syme
  • 11-14-19

Best ever Vietnam War Audiobook!

This is probably the best ever account of a year of duty in Vietnam from the perspective of a young Air Cavalry pilot. Once I started listening to this story I was captivated and as each hour progressed it just got better and better. This does not glorify the Vietnam War in any way but simply tells of the experiences of a very naive but extremely brave young man. I found myself at times sitting in my car after a journey as I just wanted to hear more. This is a great story, well written, well narrated and I am sad that it is finished. I have so much respect for the young pilots.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Mark
  • 08-30-18

Great listen

Very well narrated great action and lots of good detail. Would recommend for anyone interested in the Vietnam war and what the helicopter pilots went through

2 people found this helpful

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  • Ceeb
  • 02-05-20

Outstanding

I thought Chicken Hawk was the best helo book of 'Nam. I feel like I can fly a Huey now.

1 person found this helpful

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  • adam davies
  • 03-13-19

Well worth a credit

Good book and story became more interesting as the book went on. Recommend to fellow war book veterans who enjoy first hand accounts.

1 person found this helpful

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  • StudentGrant
  • 07-18-22

Great helicopter War account

Held my attention as bedtime listening. Story a bit rushed at the end but overall excellent.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-16-22

Thrilling!

Incredible account of a young Huey pilots experiences from Vietnam. I had absolutely no idea what these young men went through, both in the air and on the ground. Happy that to have been shared these memories from the Vietnam war. Recommended to all aviation geeks and history buffs.

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  • Stryder
  • 02-01-22

Incredible and insightful

First book read of first hand account from Vietnam conflict. Fascinating account of flying training as well as the battlefield.

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  • Wormjake
  • 11-03-21

5/5

Extremely well written memories. 5/5 for all technical details! Collection of exciting and touching stories.

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  • Hamish M Imrie
  • 08-28-21

one of the top 10 war biographies out there.

great story with well placed detail where required. good narration and well written. worth the read!!

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  • Mark
  • 06-12-21

A Year in Hell

It's been a long time since I read a book about the Vietnam war and in that time history has not been a kind judge of the American participation. Whatever the judgements are regarding the political decisions there can be no doubting the bravery and valour of those on the ground, or, as in the case of Tom A. Johnson, in the air. His matter of fact account is up there with Robert Mason's 'Chickenhawk, for placing you in the heart of the action. This is a terrifying and exhilarating account of Johnson's year flying 'Hueys' with the First Air Cavalry Division. This is not a retrospective analysis of the war, it is written and read with an urgent immediacy that places the listener right in the centre of the action and gives you a very up close and personal seat alongside Johnson's year in hell.

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  • Bill
  • 04-15-19

a good account, but difficult to listen to

I got a good account of the battle, but it was just difficult to listen to, more likely because of the way it was written than the way it was narrated.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Bradley
  • 07-13-22

An interesting story that’s well narrated.

An interesting story that’s well narrated. Very interesting that helicopter pilots only had 12 months in country during the Vietnam War.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-26-22

Brilliant

You feel like you are in the pilot seat looking out through the helicopter window. A exciting and interesting experience.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 08-06-21

Riveting story

Absolutely loved this audiobook.. Well read, this is a gripping story of a Pilot's experiences.