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Aces Falling: War Above The Trenches, 1918

Aces Falling: War Above The Trenches, 1918 [Kindle Edition]

Peter Hart
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Product Description


casts fresh light on the broader canvas of the war (DAILY TELEGRAPH)

a fascinating account of the rise and fall of the men who pioneered aerial combat...first-hand recollections bring the subject to life (NORTHERN ECHO)

A timely book...this is a requiem for the brave men involved (BIG ISSUE IN THE NORTH)

Book Description

How the age of the great WWI aces came to an end in the skies over the Western Front

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 935 KB
  • Print Length: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson (2 Oct 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004Z5B852
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #70,242 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
This is an outstanding book. What sets it apart from so many books covering the subject is that the author sets the war in the air in its true context. The war was fought in three dimensions and, whilst there are very, very many books devoted to the air war, these too often treat it as if it were fought in some parallel dimension, barely connected with what was going on on the ground. It's almost as if the aeroplanes never actually came to earth and continually 'jousted in their airborne steeds' (if you're as sad as I am, you'll get the reference).

The book begins by explaining in what is effectively a very neat precis of some of the author's previous works (of which I am a big fan), summing up the situation facing the respective powers on the Western Front at the beginning of 1918. We're then taken along with the fliers on a description of their basic training and then hurled into the fray, carried along by first-hand testimonies of what it meant to be there. We, of course, can never know just what that really felt like but, in what I view as this book's greatest quality (as with Peter Hart's other books), those who were try and tell us. They are the 'stars' of the show not the author.

I remember speaking to an author of one book about the war in the air and what was clear that the actual participants were but bit players in his work. Their role was simply to be a vehicle to show off his brilliance (sic). The respect with which Peter Hart approaches those who flew in 1918 (and in the case of James McCudden near hero worship!) shines through and, as he writes in genuine modesty, they are the 'real' authors of this book.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good sequel to the author's Bloody April 21 Aug 2007
The author's Bloody April (2005) was a fine historical account of the air war in the Arras sector in 1917. It showed how the romantic view of the war in the air as being fighter versus fighter was no longer true--two-thirds of the British planes in that sector were two-seaters, and the primary role was photo reconnaissance and artillery spotting, with trench-strafing, anti-balloon attacks, and bombing playing a secondary role. The fighters were used to protect the two-seaters and to prevent German photo recon and artillery spotting. The British were willing to accept very heavy losses to accomplish strategic goals.

Aces Falling shows how the air war doctrine of 1917 evolved further. Photo recon and artillery spotting are still vital, but in 1918 there was a need to help lessen the impact of the German ground offensives. Trench strafing and anti-balloon attacks played a greater role at the front, and now strategic bombing was employed against bridges, rail depots, etc, to help hinder to movement of men and supplies to the front. Airfields were also a prime bombing target. Bombing raids with 50 or more aircraft were not uncommon--but would have been unthinkable even in 1917. By 1918 the strategic doctrine was not unlike that in WW II. But bombs were small (about 112 lbs max) and bombsights nonexistent.

The role of the romantic fighter ace was disappearing. The "lone wolf" approach ceased to be effective when the wolf ran into a group of a dozen enemy fighters. If the fighter pilot remained with his squadron, a dogfight might involve two dozen or more aircraft: accidents and stray bullets were dangers that not even the most skilled of the aces could always avoid.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant! 11 May 2010
I loved this book: it rattles along and isn't plagued by irrelevances. The narrative covers - clearly and coherently - the strategic situation during 1918 and links it with interesting, moving and often shocking personal accounts.
I saw (heard?)Peter Hart speak for 90 fascinating minutes in York a year or so back and am so glad I bought his cracker of a book, which I couldn't wait to pick up every day and was reluctant to put down.
In my house, this one's a winner: 6 stars.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great insight from men who flew in 1918 30 Aug 2007
By Chris Baker VINE VOICE
Peter Hart's work will be well known to many of those reading this review, for he has become a prolific author on Great War subjects. He is in an enviable position, for as Oral Historian at the Imperial War Museum he has access to the rich collection of material there and uses it to great effect in this, as in his previous books. (If you are interested, Peter is a very entertaining speaker on the subject too, so if you have the chance and have not heard him, do).

Not too many works on the air war have concentrated on the dramatic year of 1918 . This is rather curious, as we see the emergence of co-ordinated "all arms" fighting where the air component was key to the ground war. This is no longer about individual heroes like Ball, great circuses of scouts engaged in deadly combat, and honourable regard for the enemy. Air war in 1918 was more about interdiction, ground strafing and tactical battlefield bombing, strategic bombing of the enemy's industries and sheer, grinding, crushing, stress.

Peter provides an intelligent framework: it is the men of the air forces that do the talking, for this book is laced throughout with quotes. They are taken in the main from the IWM collection, the Peter Liddle Personal Experience Collection at Leeds and from the RAF Museum. For some reason, W&N chose to print the quotes in a grey bold text which is not easy to read by bedside lamp, but the words are powerful, emotional and insightful.

Even at full cover price this is well worth a read. It should appeal to the mildly interested as well as more serious air buffs . Great stuff.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
very good book
Published 2 months ago by Ps Beer
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Published 2 months ago by gibson
5.0 out of 5 stars Rfc
My father was a captain in the rfc/ raf ww1 it mentioned his squadron 205 and facts about some of the battles he took part in his name was captain a l Monger. Read more
Published 14 months ago by E. A. Monger
5.0 out of 5 stars Aces Falling
A well written account of the lesser known airmen of the First War, who endured the air fighting . Peter Hart has captured the atmosphere extremely well ,having first hand... Read more
Published 22 months ago by K. Barnard
5.0 out of 5 stars Aces Falling
An excellent account of the reality of combat flying in World War 1,in the words of the men who 'were there'. A vivid vocal history, superior to most dry Air Histories.
Published on 15 Sep 2012 by Anne Earls
3.0 out of 5 stars Basically a series of memoirs and letters strung together
While not going as far as the other reviewer who gave this only one star, this book and Peter Hart's very similar "Bloody April" are basically a series of letters and contemporary... Read more
Published on 25 Aug 2011 by G. Mott
5.0 out of 5 stars Aces Falling
Peter Hart, as one has come to expect, has written a first class account of the 1918 Air War. He has used his intimate knowledge of Great War veterans to illuminate their vital... Read more
Published on 16 Oct 2007 by Martin Hornby
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't buy this, buy Winged Victory.
This book is very long, very boring and very badly written. It achieves the difficult feat of making the story of the 1918 air war tedious. Read more
Published on 7 Oct 2007 by J. Busby
4.0 out of 5 stars Good presentation of the realities of the air war
Peter Hart can usually be relied on to produce extremely readable narratives of battle history yet packed with detail. Read more
Published on 12 Aug 2007 by Michael MCCARTHY
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