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Pierre Clostermann
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

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Book Description


When The Big Show was first published, paper rationing meant that the text had to be heavily cut. Now, for the first time, this international bestseller has been returned to its complete, and breathtaking, original state.

Pierre Clostermann was a Free French fighter ace who flew with the RAF during the Second World War. Over the course of five years he engaged in hundreds of dog-fights, shot down scores of Luftwaffe planes, escorted American bombers on some of the most dangerous raids of the war, and watched many of his friends falling to their deaths in the skies over the Channel.

The Big Show, his incredible account of the air war over Britain and France, has become one of the most famous memoirs of the Second World War. Now in its original state, it contains everything one could wish for in a war memoir: wonderfully observed descriptions of wartime Britain, frighteningly evocative stories of in-the-cockpit action, an amazing cast of characters, and all the drama and bravery of a man fighting a desperate war thousands of feet above the ground. An undeniable classic.

Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix; New Ed edition (9 Mar 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0304366242
  • ISBN-13: 978-0304366248
  • Product Dimensions: 2.4 x 12.7 x 19.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 27,716 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

The best fighter pilot memoir of World War Two, now complete and unabridged for the first time

About the Author

Pierre Clostermann earned his pilot's license in 1937 at the age of 16. When war broke out in 1939 he was studying engineering in the USA. He volunteered for the Free French forces and joined No. 341 'Alsace' Squadron of the RAF. He ended the war commanding a flight of Tempests and with nearly 30 'kills'. He won the DSO, DFC and Bar. After the war, Clostermann went into politics and worked for Dassault and Cessna and founded his own aviation company. He returned to action for 18 months during the Algerian war. Today, he is France's most highly decorated officer.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably the best pilots account of WW2 29 April 2004
Pierre Glosterman was a French pilot who choose to fight for the RAF in WW2 rather than the Free French. Despite reaching the rank of Wing Commander & recieving a host of medals by Britain he was disgracefully treated by the post-war French Government (because he fought for the brits). When he tried to join the French airforce he was only offered the rank of sous-lieutenant (pilot officer) a disgusting snub for one of the most experienced combat pilots to survive the war.
His book was written based on diaries he wrote at the time rather thanmemories & as a result is extremely accurate. He charts the rise of the RAF as the war progressed starting with Mark V Spitfires v Focke Wolfe'sover Calais & ending up flying Mark V Tempests against the new German Jet sover Germany itself.
I first read this when I was 12 & am delighted that its back in print. I still vividly remember reading about his high altitude interception of an Me109 over Scapa Flow (Orkney) in a Mark 8 high altitude Spitfire. Hepursued & downed the german in a near vertical dive from over 40,000 feet. In the course of that his Spitfire nearly exceeded the sound barrier which caused almost fatal damage to the airframe. His account of the subsequent forced landing in a Spitfire with a jammed canopy is real edge-of-the-seat stuff as is his account of crash landing a Tempest just days after watching a friend burn to death doing the same.
Buy this book! There's very few like it.

I've edited this to add in a new paragraph: the original version of the book was edited because of 'post war paper shortages'. Reading this version you realise that was a shocking lie.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read 23 July 2005
By A Customer
Like the other critics I love this book.
But how many aircraft did he shoot down and how many was he officially credited with? In one of the originals 23 and now 33.
Shores has Closterman with c 19.
This latest version is the best. A larger picture of Closterman is created, more irreverant to authority, the issue of losing track of Mouchotte and the criticsm that ensued creates an inpiring picture of a very brave, idiosyncratic fighter pilot. A great book
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 2004 publication is enlightening 21 April 2004
Pierre Clostermanns The Big Show or Le Grande Cirque as it is in French,is re published in hardback.
This news sent me straight to the orderbutton ! I have the original book, which is an all time favourite. Thenew version contains more than I had expected, in 'new'chapters whichdetail his arrival in Britain initially, and go on to include severalother chapters, here and there throughout the book. At the end are detailsof wartime aircraft both British and German, and operational information.The original preface is now at the back, replaced by a new preface forthis 2004 edition written by the man himself.
The original is hard tocome by, but is included here in it's entirety. The only thing missing aresome of the photographs from the original, but these have been replacedwith different ones.
All in all, for those who know the book well, this is well worth a look,and for those who do not, I urge you to read it.
If you have ever read Antoine de St Exupery, Pierre Clostermann's bookwill be for you.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My return to childhood 27 Sep 2005
If there was only one WW2 book you should read, here it goes.
This book is the first from many WW2 memoirs I've read and it's undoubtedly the best one. When reading this, YOU ARE THERE, smelling the gunpowder, hearing bullets and explosions and wishing only to pass through the hell alive. You will read this book during one long evening and then you'll return to it, once and again. I remember that I cried when reading the last pages, I cried of relief and sadness, I cried along with the young man, who had come through the most painful chapter of his life. Per Ardua Ad Astra - Through Struggle To The Stars, they say. And you'll find that definitely true.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding! 26 Sep 2008
I discovered an earlier version of this book and absolutely loved it. This full version was even more interesting since it filled in a few gaps left in the earlier version. I have not read a better book about life as a fighter pilot. Indeed it stands as one of the very best books I have ever read. He has a wonderful style of writing. You really do feel what it was like to be there. Hugely recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitely one of the best pilot memoirs 31 May 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book, along with Geoff Wellum's First Light and Jim Goodson's Tumult in the Clouds really stands head and shoulders above the rest of the bunch and will have you hooked from start to finish.

Just one thing I would really like to know more about is the claim that Rommel was killed in the attack on his staff car in Normandy in July 44 by a pair of Spitfires - one Canadian and one Kiwi pilot, and not forced to commit suicide later, after being implicated in the plot to asassinate Hitler.

Can anyone shed any more light on this?
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Air Warfare as you have never read it before. 25 Jun 2004
By Terry
The Big Show first came into my possession in 1951. It quickly became my favourite book, much read and re-read and now a battered well thumbed prize possession.
Imagine my joy to find it newly re-issued and with previously unpublished material. There is so much that is new that it is like starting all over again, and, there are even new photographs!
This book of Clostermann's RAF service is the most exciting account of air warfare ever published. The descriptions of combat are so realistic that you are there with him in his Spitfire or Tempest, dodging the flak and Me109's.
Experience the thrill of air combat and share his grief at the loss of close friends.
This is truly one of the greatest accounts of war in the air ever published.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The one and only
A very nice looking book and good story from first page to the last, Pierre Clostermans way of telling and describing his
fights against the enimies is just a must for a... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Lars-Olof Hansson
4.0 out of 5 stars 2nd time arround.
The book arrived on time and was very well packaged. Like the Lonely Warrior I first read this book many years ago It made a long lasting impression on me so much so, that I... Read more
Published 13 months ago by john
5.0 out of 5 stars Great!
A dreadful foreword, written years after the event, can be forgiven. Once the diary itself starts you are fighting the Battle of Britain in earnest. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Liz
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Bio of a Wartime Spitfire Pilot
I first read this book when I was 8 years old and have read it many times since even though I am now over 60! Read more
Published 18 months ago by Mr R J Hawkes
5.0 out of 5 stars An Amazing comparison
I read "Le Grand Cirque" in the original version as a young boy an was fascinated.
The last version corrected some errors. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Jean-pierre Laurent
5.0 out of 5 stars A surprise (positive)
I thought i knew this book, turns out i didn't. The first time i encountered Pierre Clostermann was when my parents bought a 3 binder "The World at War" based on the TV series of... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Ove Munch Thomsen
5.0 out of 5 stars A French Flying Hero
I first read this when I was a teenager,many years ago. This version is fascinating. Clostermann is pretty scathing about the Americans, claiming the RAF rescued Patton in 1944 by... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Pappashanga
5.0 out of 5 stars Revealing
The original 1950's version of this book is one of my all time favourite reads so it was with some trepidation that I started to read this book. Read more
Published on 9 Jan 2012 by Michael Bruce
5.0 out of 5 stars A book revisited
I first read this when I was a young teenager and into war stories. I loved it then and it's just as good now some 50 years later. Well written, it's difficult to put it down!
Published on 1 Dec 2011 by Louisferdy
5.0 out of 5 stars Great WW2 Fighter Pilot Memoir
An excellent memoir of the his time in the in the RAF from a French fighter pilot 1941-45. Interesting perspectives on the war from a Frenchman in the RAF; it is primarily his... Read more
Published on 23 May 2011 by PS
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