In 1914 aircrafts were a questionable technology, used for only basic reconnaissance. But by 1918, hastened by the terrible war, aircraft were understood to be the future of modern warfare. The war changed flying forever.
The stories are presented to the reader in a frank and open way, revealing the feelings of the men who defended the trenches from above and witnessed the war from a completely different perspective.
©2008 Joshua Levine; (P)2008 WF Howes Ltd
I have literally just finished listening to this book and was moved to write up a quick review straight away. This book is absolutely spell-binding...
The major thing that struck me was the humour - admittedly sometimes dark - that surrounded these flyers. They all knew they lived on a knife edge yet often saw the comic in the absurdity of their existence.
The author brings in a breath of fresh air to this historical account and makes these commentaries modern and accessible, and thus makes the whole process of this fledgling air warfare completely understandable.
As you might imagine there is a lot of tragedy to the accounts and - becoming of this miserable war - a sense of wasted young lives - but as so often true of the darkest moments you also see the best side of humanity as well.
Perhaps the most poignant aspect of this is that air war at this point was at a cross-roads between the Victorian and modern age, and the attitudes and characters are an intriguing mix of the 'old school' and very modern. They express themselves both in a very contemporary and obsolete way, which tells us a lot about the Great War, why it was fought and why it was fought the way it was.
Above all the accounts of the air combat are enthralling. But I would say exciting is the wrong word, as there is not feeling that this was in any way a great adventure, but rather a deadly endeavor. You are most definitely not left entertaining any illusions about how wonderful or romantic it would have been to be a WW1 flying ace.
Really this was excellent book. Listened to it from start to finish in one go. I actually took a long route home from Dublin to Mayo so I could get it all in. Very different era. So much dedication gives rise to so many questions. Why did they jump in planes knowing full well their lifespan was measured in weeks. Some of the stories were very funny particularly those relating to the training exercises. I think a certain Irish airline must be using their training manual. Enjoy
"On a Wing and a Prayer (unabridged)"
This book provides an insight to the fragility of the aircraft that were flown in those days. It must have taken huge courage to get into the earlier models and take off. Fortunately, they flew so slowly, they could land almost anywhere.
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