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Sagittarius rising (Wings of war) Unknown Binding – 1991

43 customer reviews

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Unknown Binding, 1991
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Product details

  • Unknown Binding: 331 pages
  • Publisher: Time-Life Books (1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0809496011
  • ISBN-13: 978-0809496013
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By D. Ross on 30 Sept. 2008
Format: Paperback
This is possibly the best aircraft related war memoir I have ever read. Cecil Lewis is a wordsmith in his own right, he lived to be 98 and became a successful BBC broadcaster. He wrote this book later on in life, but not from an adult perspective only just how he fell at the time as a 17 year old youth joining the Royal Flying Corps. It's full of love for flying, full of passion and knowledge of the machines, full of feelings that will take you on an emotional rollercoaster and make you laugh and cry as you read through this magnificent masterpiece of a memoir.
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46 of 47 people found the following review helpful By dbowden@btinternet.com on 14 April 2001
Format: Paperback
Cecil Lewis is above all gifted writer. He gives the reader a rare insight into the life of a young man during the first world war and shortly afterwards.
A "bit of a Poet" he tells us of his experience as he trains to be a pilot and then during active duty.
This memoir lets us see through his eyes what live was like. Perhaps we see it better for he has a keen eye for detail and is both sensitive and perceptive.
The flying and combat scenes are perhaps the best ever written.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By PeetheGee on 26 Sept. 2011
Format: Paperback
I bought this because I was reading another book called Fighter Boys which is a well researched account of the development of the RAF leading up to a detailed account of the Battle of Britain. In the early stages of the book the author frequently cited Sagittarius Rising by Cecil Lewis as one of the best accounts we have of flying in the first world war, and it certainly lives up to that description. Cecil Lewis joined the RFC as soon as he could in the very early stages of WW1 and seems to have led a charmed life, being on active service in the RFC as a pilot throughout the war, carrying out duties as an airborne observer for the artillery, flying photographic reconnaisance missions over enemy territory, and being involved in dogfights including encountering von Richtofen's circus. The book is punctuated with his philosphical musings about war and civilisation which are as relevant to-day as they were then. An excellent well written account which is also very informative on the rapid development of aviation technology during the war.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Mark Wildish on 23 April 2009
Format: Paperback
There are not many books which give first hand accounts of the air war in the first world war - there were not many who survived. Cecil Lewis was not only a survivor - against the odds - he was also a writer of talent. The backdrop which is provided of youthful exuberance, combined with the sense of duty, helps explain why young men continued to accept and face up to the near certainty of death. This is not just a book about the air war, it is a eulogy to a lost cast.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Richard Budd on 5 Dec. 2009
Format: Paperback
The above superlatives are all appropriate. I want to add that the technicalities are good enough for pilots without baffling laymen, and his description of the extreme difficulty of keeping his Morane Parasol the right side up, for example, is a masterly illustration of the perennial balancing act in military aircraft between lethality and safety, in other words, hoping they kill more of them than they do of us. Photos would have been good, and the edition I had was a facsimile of an early edition, meaning there was no postscript on what became of Lewis himself, or commentaries and footnotes by a historian, which would also have been nice to have.I am afraid, Mukisa, they really did think it was "ripping" to go to war -- at first, of course -- and a lot of memoirs only got written in the 1930s because the veterans did not at first believe that anyone but other veterans could possibly understand what they experienced.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The first chapter in this book is one of the best that I have ever read. The main body of the book covers the authors training on very basic trainer aircraft and charts his progression as a pilot through-out the war, covering a couple of tours on the western front and also on the home front. I found the chapters about the home front particularly interesting as I have always viewed the air war during this period as a particularly French affair. The book also charts the rapid technological development of aircraft during this thankfully relatively brief period of our history, and also covers the transition from Royal Flying Corps to the inception of the Royal Air Force.

The Author seems to come from a relatively privileged background, and his writing style is of his era and social class. However, the book does not really suffer for this, and the author comes across as a decent, honest person, doing his best under circumstances most of us can only really begin to imagine.

Towards the end of the book the Author talks briefly about his brief career after the end of the war, particularly about his relatively brief time in china, I found this part of the book a little maudlin and overly poetic. For me it detracted from a book that up to this point I had enjoyed very much. I was interested in what happened to the author after his experience in the war, but felt that he should either have finished the book at the end of the war, or to more fully describe his later career. I would, However, not want this to put anyone of this otherwise excellent book, the last part is relatively brief and after all, this is just one persons subjective view.
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