THE GREAT AIR WAR by Aaron Norman


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For aviation buffs, another massive history of World War I's super-aces, simple aircraft, and evolving combat strategies. From the tentative use of scout planes early in the war to the creation of fighter squadrons and finally perfection of their power to kill, the author tells all, down to the number of kills claimed by the top aces of every country. There is a good account of the Flying Dutchman's contribution to air engineering, and an amazing one of French ace Garros' escape from Berlin by air at night on the eve of the declaration of war. The roster of knights of the sky includes top kampffliegers Richthofen and Boelcke, Frenchmen Fonck and Guynemere. British aces Mannock and McCudden, with briefer mentions of Americans and a Russian pilot named Kazakov. Each man's personality gets a short analysis, and to the usual myths of valor, chivalry, and expertise are added occasional mentions of victory poaching, insupportable claims, and cold-blooded killing. Although Quentin Reynolds' popularization. They Fought For the Sky (1957), remains serviceable, Norman's account will find readers. But the book tells little really new, and this season will again see a spate of histories of the first Great War.

Pub Date: Sept. 30th, 1968
Publisher: Macmillan