Book Review: Refiner’s Fire, A Fighter Pilot’s Journey

CreateSpace Online Publishers, 2009.
Douglas Haig Jenkins, Jr.

The title of Refiner’s Fire makes it sound as if it is the perfect book for examining the integration of faith and the fighter pilot profession.  While it has potential, it regrettably falls short.

Refiner’s Fire is Jenkins’ autobiography.  It is literally written chronologically, with the first chapter talking about childhood dreams of flying and the last the author’s final retirement.  Unfortunately, that format lends itself well to family memoirs, but not books for the general public, especially absent a celebrity author.

The book does have some fascinating stories of military aviation in it, but that is all they are — stories from his life; with a few notable exceptions, they generally lack self-reflection or insight into spirituality (which is an explicitly stated theme).  As a fairly inclusive autobiography, the fascinating stories are sometimes interspersed with somewhat more prosaic details of the author’s life.

For those that have unique interests, like Century series aircraft, F-4s in Vietnam, or air defense intercepts in Iceland, the book has fascinating first-hand accounts unlikely to be found in other sources.  The primary source alone may make it a valuable reference.  For most, however, those gems, excellent though they are, will be insufficient to support the rest of the book.  The book has enormous potential; perhaps a second revision could cull the content to its most interesting parts and expand them both in detail and application.

Not recommended, though regretfully so.  If you desire a primary source on Air Force military fighter aviation from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s, it has some great stories.

This book is available from Amazon.

Note: CreateSpace is a self-publishing company.