Cover image for Cassada
Salter, James.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Washington, D.C. : Counterpoint, [2000]

Physical Description:
208 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
Rewritten, not revised, version of author's The arm of flesh, published in 1961.
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



The lives of officers in an Air Force squadron in occupied Europe encompass the contradictions of military experience and the men's response to a young newcomer, bright and ambitious, whose fate is to be an emblem of their own. In Cassada, Salter captures the strange comradeship of loneliness, trust, and alienation among military men ready to sacrifice all in the name of duty and pride.

After futile attempts at ordinary revision, Salter elected to begin with a blank page, to compose an entirely new novel based upon the characters and events of his second long unavailable novel, The Arm of Flesh. The result, Cassada, is a masterpiece, and the occasion of our hardcover edition was celebrated from coast to coast.

Author Notes

James Arnold Horowitz (June 10, 1925 - June 19, 2015), better known as James Salter, his pen name and later-adopted legal name, was an American novelist and short-story writer. Originally a career officer and pilot in the United States Air Force, he resigned from the military in 1957 following the successful publication of his first novel, The Hunters.

Salter published a collection of short stories, Dusk and Other Stories in 1988. The collection received the PEN/Faulkner Award, and one of its stories ("Twenty Minutes") became the basis for the 1996 film, Boys. He was elected to The American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2000. In 2012, PEN/Faulkner Foundation selected him for the 25th PEN/Malamud Award.

Salter Died on June 19, 2015. He was 90.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Especially since Dusk and Other Stories (1988), Salter's fiction has commanded considerable respect, and expectations should be high for this extensive rewriting of his second novel (originally published as The Arm of Flesh in 1961). Here he brings his deft, often spare prose to bear on the story of a group of air force pilots flying training missions in Europe during the cold war. The characters are sharply realized, especially through extended scenes of dialogue; their relationships, their failed or incomplete or squashed attempts at expression, are fully displayed. Salter's style and approach may engage readers not usually drawn to military stories, especially in the case of Cassada, who is "solitary and unboisterous . . . intelligent but not cerebral" and whose ambition leads to tragic consequences. As in most of Salter's fiction, there is seemingly simple but clearly controlled, accomplished prose to marvel at throughout: "It's silent and cold. He lies in bed aching, too ancient to move. Out there, somewhere, more silent still, in the matted grass the wreckages lie, blown apart in the darkness, wet as the ground." --James O'Laughlin

Publisher's Weekly Review

Salter is one of the great writers about flying, and this short novel was revised, at the suggestion of Counterpoint editor Jack Shoemaker, from a book originally called The Arm of Flesh when it was first published nearly 40 years ago. (Salter's first novel, The Hunters, was also revised for republication three years ago.) It is set in Germany a few years after the war, when the U.S. Air Force was still maintaining airfields and flying practice sorties, and when bad weather, particularly heavy cloud and fog, could still cause problems at smaller landing fields. Cassada is a young lieutenant, sent to join the unit at the center of the story, who is determined to be a star in the target gunnery contests in which the pilots indulge, and who in the end is part of a disaster when he and a colleague fly too far and run out of fuel in heavy rain before they can land. Salter's subtle, understated prose has been justly praised, even if at times it hovers perilously close to Hemingway parody, and the best scenes here portray the tensions of the men on the ground as they wait for planes to land safely. Salter's feeling for weather and for the dark mysteries of solitary flight are exemplary, and it is only in the rather mundane scenes of family life on base and the barely hidden rivalries and jealousies that the book is less than compelling. It is certainly worth reading for the frequent pleasures of Salter's writing and for the originality of the setting, but it in no way compares with his brilliant A Sport and a Pastime and Light Years. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Lieutenant Cassada is an ambitious young fighter pilot fresh out of flying school who has been assigned to an Air Force squadron in occupied Germany. His days are spent in an endless round of training flights and debriefings, the boredom broken only by moments of terror when something suddenly goes wrong. Salter's revision of his second novel, The Arm of Flesh, originally published in 1961, concentrates on the business of flying to the exclusion of almost everything else, including historical background and character development. The prose style is generic Hemingway: short, declarative sentences laden with military jargon. Many chapters consist of nothing more than terse comments on cloud cover, wind speed, and visibility, often to the point of self-parody: "Correct two degrees left to zero five eight. Make that zero five five." This novel was obviously written expressly for aviation buffs, and it is recommended solely for libraries with a strong interest in flying.DEdward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch. Lib., Los Angeles (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.