Michael Veitch delivers an engaging and passionate performance of his nonfiction book FLAK. Since childhood, he had an obsession with Second World War aircraft. He believed that the men who flew these machines had incredible stories to share, but many of these narratives had not yet been recorded. Over a year, he set off to interview former bomber pilots, fighter aces, rear gunners, and bomb aimers living in Australia. These veterans were in their 80s, but their stories remained as vivid and unforgettable as the day they happened.
Michael Veitch's life-long obsession with the aircraft of the Second World War led him to conclude that every single person who flew, or flew in them has at least one extraordinary story to tell. With most of these veterans in their 80s, he knew that it was a matter of urgency to find them now, before their personal stories disappear forever.
So, over the course of a year, Veitch interviewed over 50 former aircrew across Australia, many of whom had never spoken about their experiences before, even to their families. The result is FLAK - a collection of vivid, unforgettable stories from RAAF veterans about their experiences of combat in World War II. It is also an account of the strange, sometimes obsessive journey of the author himself, as he explores a passion held since childhood.
From bomber pilots to fighter aces, from rear gunners to bomb aimers, from stories of death and fear to tales of humor and comradeship, Michael has helped unearth the extraordinary stories of ordinary men living and fighting in extraordinary times.
©2006 Michael Veitch; (P)2007 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd.
I'm quite familiar with the WWII air war over Europe, and the contribution made by "empire" pilots and crew, but this is a fascinating account of the war in Europe, Africa and the South Pacific as seen through Australian eyes.
Veitch, initially in an unplanned way, began to capture and record accounts of wartime experience from Australians who had served in and around the allied air forces during WWII, and this book is his retelling of these firshand and very personal accounts, often in the words of the participants.
Its been a very enjoyable listen and I learned much.
Rather than concentrating exclusively on the fighter pilots and bomber crews, there are fascinating accounts from flying boat crews, air reconnaissance pilots, transport pilots and crews and of captivity and of rescue. Although for obvious reasons many of the accounts focus on Europe, I was unaware how much Australia itself had been bombed by the Japanese, and that the RAAF operated so extensively in the South Pacific.
There is much dry, irreverent Aussie humour. The reading is warm and engaging. Only after listening did I realise this was actually the voice of the author himself. He does a fine job of reading his own material. There are also moments of great poignancy however - both in time of conflict, and after.
This is a fine book, both for listeners familiar with the war in the air, and those yet to become so, and I recommend it.
Veitch was given so much material that could not be included in this book that he has written a sequel "Fly" , and I am off to download this next.
My first review for Audible brought about by the need to express my admiration for 'Flak' and the reader/author, Michael Veitch. Michael if you are reading this 'Good on you, mate!' you certainly 'got it' in my opinion, The book and your narration scored at every level, the factual account, historical notes, humor, drama and respect came through in each chapter. More than any film or other book I have read this audio book had me flying over the Bass Straits on the way to work and then the French coast on the way home. As soon as I 'landed' it was straight onto Wikipedia researching the facts and figures I'd been listening to, I'm still enjoying the book long after it ended!
Should you spend a credit on this? Did you ever make an Airfix kit? Did you ever hear a Merlin engine? Ever see a Lancaster, Spitfire, Hurricane flypast? Need I say more?
Finally to the 'boys' involved. Michael's book and rendition underlines the respect, thanks and awe in which he (and I) regard these not-forgotten men (and women) caught up in an extraordinary time.
Off to download the next book 'Fly' now - happy commuting!
Was a wee bit suspicious that this might prove to be another one of the numerous tombs pertaining to the Second World War that is either far too serious and detailed (at least for my boredom threshold) or so badly written that you want to grab the author and teach them basic writing skills (keep my references to my self). This book was neither, the stories were varied, amusing (sometimes in a way that you'd only expect from the antipodes) and very gripping with more than a few emotive moments of sadness, relief and delight shared with the various contributors. Looking forward to obtaining the sequel.
If you are into planes and the history of that era it is well worth a listen, from Lancs, to P40's to Brewsters to Dakotas. All the people who flew in them.
One of the best and never got bored at all. Recommend
First hand accounts of bravery from amazing people doing amazing acts. Well worth listening to.
Thank you Michael Veitch for all three books, what a beautiful thing you've done, I was am inspired and moved by the men you met, I was a air cadet and loved the flying but being from a poor back ground I never imagined being able to become a pilot, but now in the free modern world made possible by these great heroes I am going to enrol in flight school and earn my wings!
This is so humbling to listen to these Aussies talk about their experiences during the war. As they talk about their experiences in a so matter of fact manner.That it beggers belief that they are actually talking about frontline combat which more than likely made them fill their pants!!!! The narrator talks you through the approaching stories in the same matter of fact tone as the actual combatants do themselves. Yet all the time they are telling their stories. These men talk down their bravery as nothing more than they were just doing their job. As it was a job that needed doing!! All through this audio book there were moments of hilarity....as long as you have the same sence of humour as the Aussies....as well as sadness at the losses they experienced. Though moreso their indomitable spirit and loyalty speaks volumes with their own spoken words. This is definatly well worth listening to folks. Find out for yourselves how brave these men were and how they just played their war time experiences down to what can only be described as, in their own words, "nothing special" An absoulute brilliant listen, very humbling and educational to boot.
As an American I just didn't realize how much the Australian's did. Thank you for opening my eyes! Really enjoyed this one and his other book that Audible has. Listened to both at least twice. I hadn't realized that the German pilots never got a break until I listened to this but it made sense after I heard it in their own words. Thanks for of the eye opening experience!
To me, this book is a "must read" for anyone who loves WWII aviation history.
This book has great stories, and the author is a masterful writer and narrator. I've read (and listened to) a lot of military history -- I loved this one. Also, I liked that many of the stories were from RAAF pilots and crew. There aren't as many books from their point of view, and this book, in addition to being marvelous just on its own without any qualifications, is an excellent source from and tribute to those pilots.
Thank you, Michael Veitch, for this wonderful book.
"What? someone other than Americans flew in WW2?"
It was refreshing to hear stories that did not revolve around the USAAF bombers and crew. I'm not faulting them at all, i have nothing but admiration for them.
But there were others in the fight and this is their story. It is a series of vignettes featuring airman from Austrailia and New Zealand. They have remarkable first-hand accounts of what they did to aide Britain in the European theater while their own homeland was under attack.
"Simply a "Must Read""
I was disappointed to see a reviewer critical of this book for recounting a story told by a former flyer. Sure it was an ugly truth that there was mistrust and national rivalries between the Allies. It remains a regrettable and tragic fact, but I do not think we should ignore that reality.
The incident recounted in this book is one person's story. There are many other tremendous stories laid down in this book.
I have no desire to hear sanitised patriotic history. I prefer to learn how things really were - right or wrong, politically correct or woefully biased.
It is not the author's view, but the recollection of one individual who was there. Surely, as readers, we can accept that the terror of war in those urgent times led to many fears, suspicions, rivalries and tragedies.
I found the author's warmth of understanding for the veterans to be touching. He has done a great job of sensitively opening very deep memories. This book is a great effort at preserving history and I could not recommend it more highly.
I love accounts of the brave men of WWII. This book however is not recommended if you happen to be an American how feels our country contributed greatly to the defeat of Germany and Japan. Mr Vietch, and his self described lefty leanings, takes every opportunity ti portray American air crews as incompetent, disliked by their allied counter parts. According to the men interviewed this hatred was to the degree that in chapter 17 he recounts the RAF and RAAF pilots cheering on the German pilot attacking an American bomber. I have walked away from this book placing the Australians on par with the French, and based on this work, I frankly am of the opinion, we should have allowed the Aussies to become a Japanese colony.
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