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German Knights of the Air, 1914-18: The Holders of the Orden pour le Merite [Hardcover]

Terry C. Treadwell , Alan C. Wood

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Book Description

31 Dec 1997
This is a history of the Ordre Pour Le Merite, or "Blue Max", as it is popularly known, and the 81 holders of the award. The 81 biographies of the holders are enhanced by photographs and, in some cases, multiple photographs of the recipients with their aircraft, and other individuals. The book gives an insight into the fragile world of Germany World War I pilots and observers. It brings to the fore the little-known holders of the Ordre Pour le Merite. The names of Richthofen, Udet, Immelmann, Goering and Boelcke are all well known. But aside from these famous pilots, there are men such as Peter Rieper (a balloon observer), von Groner (an aerial photographer) and Bernert, who wore glasses and was partially disabled, yet still managed to hide these facts from the doctors and his instructors, and ended the war with 28 victories to his credit.

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Customer Reviews

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Amazon.com: 3.3 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good starting place for in-depth research 4 Aug 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
This book provides a brief biographical sketch of each of the 81 recipients of the "Blue Max" from the Imperial German Air Service. It is unique in that photographs of each recipient are gathered together in a single volume. Coverage is well- balanced, with each airman, both the famous and the obscure, receiving 2-3 pages. The resulting sketches are somewhat superficial, but the scope of the overall effort makes this unavoidable. This is not a book that should be read cover-to-cover at a single sitting. It is best treated as a collection of short stories, any one of which is worthy of considerable expansion.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Plenty to offer... but somewhat sloppy. 13 April 2001
By James H. Jenkinson - Published on Amazon.com
On the whole, this is a good book, with plenty of information about these fascinating airmen. If you are new to the history of WWI in the air, it offers plenty to get you started. However the reader should be aware that the book is rifled with inaccuracies, some of them quite puzzling. Some pictures are misidentified, and there are numerous examples of statements which simply do not square with the facts.
Some examples of the types of errors found in the book (there are many others):
1) In Boelcke's bio, the author states that Boelcke crashed to his death in a Fokker Eindecker (pg.42), which is incorrect. But to make the error more puzzling, four pages later (pg.46) in Erwin Boehme's bio, he describes the collision saying that Boehme damaged Boelcke's "upper wing". That is true, Boelcke died in a biplane Albatros D.II... which completely contradicts the statement in Boelcke's bio, since the Eindecker did not have an "upper wing", being a monpolane.
2) In Karl Emil Schaefer's bio, a group photo has KES identified as the 3rd person on the left. Somewhat remarkable seeing as the plane they are standing in front of (a Fokker D.VII) was introduced a year after his death.
3) Several places pilots are credited with downing Sopwith Camels well before they were introduced to the front. The planes were most likely Sopwith Pups, or 1 1/2 Strutters. It seems almost as though an editor with little knowledge of the period came across references to "Sopwiths", and plugged in the only plane he knew of from that manufacturer. For instance, in Goering's bio the author states that he was downed by "Camels" in November 1916. The Camel was not introduced to the Western Front until late Summer 1917. Such an obvious error should never have made it to print.
I don't want a prospective reader to think that this book is not worth having, because it is. Many of the pilots covered in this work receive very little attention by most historians of the period. Their biography's are a welcome addition to my collection. I just want everyone to realize that it needs to be read with care. Obviously whoever edited this book, either did not know the period very well, or simply did a sloppy job. Either way, it is a shame that a good book on a very worthy topic ended up with so many unnecessary flaws.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good introducing book about WW I German aces 25 Aug 1998
By M. Fonseca - Published on Amazon.com
This book, written in dictionary-like style, gives a good general vision of the great GERMAN Aces of WWI, including Richthofen, Goering, Voss, Lowenhardt, Udet and all the others who won the Pour Le Merite. It lacks, although, in making a link between these pilots and the scenarios in which they have fought, being somewhat extremely impersonal.
3.0 out of 5 stars Biographies of all the Airmen who received the Blue Max. 4 July 2002
By Kevin M Quigg - Published on Amazon.com
A good overview of Germany's famous airmen of World War I. Not only are the fighter pilots reviewed, but also Zeppelin and seaplane pilots, observers, and the the generals that reorganized the air service. Some criticism of what should have been in the book:
1.) drawings of the Allied and German aircraft
2.) drawings of the medals recieved by these German airmen.
Also, the grammar was not right in some cases, especially when referring to months. A good overview of the heroes of the German air force in World War I.
3.0 out of 5 stars Good. 4 May 2000
By PATHERSON - Published on Amazon.com
I totally agree with the reader from Shalimar, Florida, who said this book cannot be read in only one shot, cover to cover. Why? Because it deals with fast biographies of 81 airmen from Germany in WW I. Each og the histories are interesting, well documented, but it only makes you wanna know more!
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