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Summary

Pierre Clostermann DFC was one of the oustanding Allied aces of the Second World War. A Frenchman who flew with the RAF, he survived over 420 operational sorties, shooting down scores of enemy aircraft while friends and comrades lost their lives in the deadly skies above Europe. 

The Big Show, his extraordinary account of the war, has been described as the greatest pilot's memoir of WWII.

©1948, 2008 Flammmarion (P)2020 Tantor

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Quite amazing

Having downloaded a few duds recently my heart sank when in the preface it said this was a list of engagements based on his diaries and not a work of literature. The former may be true, that latter not.
This is superbly written and in parts very moving. The normal exciting stuff is all captured but blended with a clear communication of the immense skill needed to fly these complicated machines, map read and command your fellow pilots.
He is quite unashamed to make clear that by the end of the war he was a nervous wreck but the juxtaposition with the final scene, as he flys alone high in the sky, shows what an emotional experience war can be.

1 person found this helpful

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Great book, poor narration

Such a great memoir, narration doesn’t do it justice.
No pauses between chapters. Intonation quite flat. Place names mispronounced. Doesn’t sound like it’s had a proper check before release.

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A masterpiece of aerial warfare

I have read many accounts over the years of aerial warfare, particularly in World War II, and I think this is the best one. The author has married
His exciting exploits with a clear gift for writing. He puts the reader in the cockpit to share his death defying experiences. I am surprised that some reviewers have criticised the narration which, in my opinion, is excellent.

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good book awful narration

good book spoilt by bloody awful narration almost gave up but it is worth persisting with

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  • D.
  • 13-06-21

Amazing courage

Incredible story of a ground attack fighter pilot whose understated style of writing portrays all the tension and terror he experienced. The book covers a part of the air war that has not had as great a coverage as other campaigns.

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Brilliant

First read in the 70's, this book remains a thrilling story of bravery and courage, of loss, success and the endeavours of many airmen. an insight into the dangers, the power and abilities of the pilots and their aircraft, some of the sensations flying fighter planes. A recommended read (or listen).

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A French Ace in the RAF

This book was originally a hard-back present to me in 1953,from my cousin, then a jet fighter pilot in the RAF. I read it avidly then, and have read it more often than any other book in my extensive aviation library.
Possibly some details could be challenged with the benefit of post war hind-sight, but this in no way detracts from the courage shown by Clostermann, and his fellow pilots. He so well recreates the sense of the times , the fear in battle, the tragedies,
the mix of elation in victory, sorrow with their losses.
The relentless grind of war from the sharp end.

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Important and extraordinary historical account - let down by narration.

Pierre Clostermann has been and acknowledged name within the field of aerial come back during the Second World War. Although his account is modest it is clear that he was an extraordinary talented pilot and combatant.

The main problem with this title is, I’m afraid, generation. It’s important for narrators to be aware of pronunciation and how numbers are spoken. Also it’s easier to hear for example the word “horsepower” rather than HP. There are quite a few little slips which sadly and mine the pleasure of this remarkable account. However if you are interested in this subject I strongly recommend you listen.

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Understated courage

The book puts you in the cockpit of some memorable moments. Not to be missed, brilliant.

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  • ML
  • 05-01-21

An incredible story

One of the finest accounts of a fighter pilot in WW2 that I have read. Just fabulous.

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  • S. H. Moore
  • 08-12-20

Simply one of the best all time books on air combat ever written.

I was stoked to see The Big Show was coming out on Audible. I’ve probably read this book 6-7 times in my life. I’m half way through it and have to say, hearing it told is even more exciting and intense then reading it. The reader does a great job. If you love dog fights and flying you HAVE to get this one. Trust me. You will not regret it.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Htiek P.
  • 25-07-21

Finally in Audible

My father gave me a tattered copy of this book in the mid 1990’s. I’ve read it 4 times and at last, listened via Audible. The narrator sounds exactly as I imagined when I read the book.

The best fighter pilot memoir ever. Enjoy!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 12-09-21

must read

this book is conversational and put you right in the cockpit. as someone who has red more than 200 books on World War II Aviation I highly recommend this one. And the performance is one of the best on Audible

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  • Street
  • 13-08-21

Good narrative, sketchy facts

Good first-person narrative, interesting to follow a French fighter pilot serving with the RAF. The author needed to do a little more research, however, as he gets many facts wrong about the overall air war going on at the time.

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  • James L. Camp IV
  • 27-05-21

One of the best war books I ever read/heard.

This book was gripping, moving and lyrical. I really felt like I had gone through the war with the author. I felt the enthusiasm and excitement of the early days. Then I felt the increasing tension, dread and sadness of the last days of the war as the author’s squadron was relentlessly thrown into combat against a still potent Luftwaffe. Excellent book.

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  • Teddy Reid
  • 05-05-21

fantastic

amazing book especially if you like ww2 aircraft stuff otlr just ww2 in general, this guy is very descriptive and good at painting a picture in your head

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  • F Clarke
  • 23-03-21

Excellent story, Perfect performance.

One of the best books I've read and heard on this topic and period. The narration was excellent and the writer captured his life in the conflict in such a clear way, Putting you right in the cockpit with him, HIGHLY recommend.

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  • Brian
  • 27-02-21

Excellent WW2 Fighter Pilot Story

Read this book a few times from an early age, the Audiobook version is excellent and well read. Great story of a Frenchman who joins the RAF in WW2 and flies Spitfires and Hawker Tempests throughout the war, into France and Germany after D Day. Excellent narration, and Pierre Clostermann liberally sprinkles the story with some technical descriptions and the personal side of flying in WW2. A must have for any history buff.

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  • B Taub
  • 18-02-21

Classic account of a WW2 fighter pilot-all action

Loved this book! After a brief introduction, almost every chapter was an account of another mission.

This book provides a different view of the fighter pilot's war from most accounts. For one, Clostermann was French, which provides a unique perspective on the war, he flew not only Spitfires but also Tempests, and he describes a ton of different mission types (fighter combat, train strafing, V1 site attacks...).

I learned a ton. For example, I thought that the Luftwaffe was pretty much gone by 1945. But, Clostermann was still involved in a lot of air to air combat right up to the end. In addition, it's kind of shocking to hear how many losses there were in Tempest squadrons.

Anyhow, this book is considered a classic and if you're into WW2 aviation, you really should check it out!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 29-01-21

Non stop action...

After reading and listening to many different WWII air combat books, this one is by far the most exciting, intense, and action packed. You get an up-close and personal sense of how truly packed the skies were with enemy aircraft and how massive the air campaign really was. I will most definitely be listening to this again and again.