Kirkus Star


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This is the ""apologia"" of an R.A.F. pilot -- the first personal experience story of the war which is first an adventure of the mind and spirit, and second a record of what happened to the writer. Hillary was an Oxford student, with all that implies of intellectual snobbery, ""old school tie"", ""the playing fields of Eton"", etc. etc. sicklied o'er with the ""lost generation"" tongue in cheek attitude towards traditions and ideals and the mores of his people. The months of training, the friendships, the minor incidents, the deliberate flouting of authority and scoffing at restrictions, the overstressing of the individual's right to do as he pleased -- even in a war -- these were characteristics of the early months. Then the accident which precipitated him into the Channel, frightfully burned, held afloat only by the tangled parachute -- and the rescue; the months of hospitalization, with realization of disfigurement and semi-invalidism indefinitely --and still the shell was unbroken. Still he scoffed. At the end, it took the ruthless bombing of a civilian objective, the rescue of a dying woman, a dead baby, the last words --""I see they got you, too!"" -- to show him himself, with all his selfishness and callousness and lack of sympathy and understanding. It is a rather painful book -- though a revealing and challenging one. Extremely well done, with no fireworks or fanfare; British restraint dramatized and synthesized.

Pub Date: Feb. 6th, 1942
Publisher: Reynal & Hitchcock