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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Orion (2 Oct 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0752897748
  • ISBN-13: 978-0752897745
  • Product Dimensions: 14.1 x 13.7 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,889,847 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Peter Hart has worked as the Oral Historian of the Imperial War Museum since 1981. He is the author of several books on the Great War. His latest work Is 'Fire and Movement: The British Expeditionary Force and the Campaign of 1914'. In a former life he was the lead singer of the Liverpool punk rock band 'Those Naughty Lumps'.

Product Description

Review

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) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

How the age of the great WWI aces came to an end in the skies over the Western Front --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By J. Grundy VINE VOICE on 2 Sep 2007
Format: Hardcover
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 By David W. Straight on 21 Aug 2007
Format: Hardcover
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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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Chris Baker VINE VOICE on 30 Aug 2007
Format: Hardcover
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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