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A Willingness to Die (Military History Series) Hardcover – 1 May 1999


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: NPI Media Group; 1st Edition edition (1 May 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0752416936
  • ISBN-13: 978-0752416939
  • Product Dimensions: 18.1 x 2.4 x 25 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 537,245 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Darren H. on 8 April 2008
Format: Paperback
Having read a few pilots' biographies it is easy to see these fall into a similar vein; namely signing-up, training, combat and the consequences from combat and escaping death (where many others did not).

This is a little different in that Brian Kingcome added more of his personal life as an overlay well before, during and well after his military flying days. The first line typifies this with the statement "Anyone looking for a chronological order of events won't find it here." It is therefore much the better for it, and it is an enjoyable read of a modest man.

Covering from his school days through well into his later business life, it is well presented with many anecdotes. It included his somewhat unlucky scrapes with cars which nearly ended his flying career before it had even started. The subsequent facial reconstruction gives a view into the early world of plastic surgery and Brian was an honorary "guinea pig" as a result.

It is very sad that the text was not fully finished at the time of his death in 1994 and this is noted in the foreword by Geoffrey Wellum and the editor, Peter Ford.

However, the Brian has done an excellent job of bringing his experiences to life - and this doesn't detract from the odd typo in the text. His story as laid out is a reminder of a world and a way of life far removed from today.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Robinson on 13 Feb. 2009
Format: Paperback
Very interesting book. Different from many WW II fighter pilot tales in two ways:

(1) Kingcome does not concentrate on the individual actions/kills that earned him the fighter ace accolades (he is very modest on this subject). Instead he concentrates on the bigger picture of the war and serving his country.

(2) Kingcome wrote to book in later life not immediately after WW II. Consequently when he describes life in the RAF and the 1930's and 40's he is able to describe how different things were then to now - the details are themselves interesting.

I would recommend this book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By TS on 28 Oct. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A Willingness to Die
Having read dozens of these 'last of the few' books, I nearly didn't buy this one because of the lurid title, but I did and I am glad that I did. A super read and since it dovetails in with several others, because most of the Battle of Britain Pilots knew one another, it is interesting comparing their many shared experiences. Thoroughly recommended.

TS
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Stormbird on 16 Jan. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very informative and very moving. I laughed and cried alternately all my way through. Probably my number 50 or so read of the genre, and definitely top range. If I had to pick only one, this would be it. Absolutely amazing that Kingcome had this eye for detail so many years in retrospect. However, either I am very rough reader or the quality of the binding is poor, as the pages started falling out at an early stage. Probably the latter - poor binding, since many paperbacks have survived my desert fatigue pockets in a more honourable manner. Nevertheless: Read it or you will regret!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Dan Sorkin on 22 April 2010
Format: Paperback
The author's memoirs were brilliantly resurrected as a WW2 Fighter Pilot's diary of life in & out of combat. It is written with both grace & wit.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By R. A. Fallows on 18 Aug. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have read a great many books of fighter pilots' exploits; of those a very few I rate as standing out well beyond the rest. When I first saw this book, I was captivated by its cover and title, but was not expecting it would offer such compelling reading. I couldn't put it down, yet read it in small amounts as I didn't want to finish it so quickly. I love the author's approach, which is rather like listening to one's father or granddad reminisce over a cup of tea; the story teller can digress at any moment, either forward or back in time. This is one of the reasons I enjoyed his stories. Another is that Kingcome gives as many facts and facets of a story as he can, so you are not left wondering what became of so-and-so, or pondering about any other details. There is near the end of the book an emotional passage where he reflects on the excitement of being a fighter pilot during 1940 which could be some author's over sentimental view, except that it isn't; it's the real view of a man who risked his life willingly and saw the deaths of others who did the same. It leaves the reader feeling somewhat as Shakespeare said in Henry We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.
...and you are left feeling rather flat and dull and somewhat envious, but nevertheless inspired by such a great man's story.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By BillB on 6 Aug. 2010
Format: Paperback
This is a real 'budget' publication, which shows very little respect for the content.
The binding began to fall apart as soon as I started opening the book and reading, so the first 25 or so pages are now completely detached. There seems to have been minimal proof reading undertaken, as there are regular printing errors as you proceed through the text. Finally, the numerous interesting photographs have not been reproduced on proper photo quality paper, but straight onto the same pages as the text, with the result that they are grey, grainy and indistinct.
I would have happily paid more for a good quality product.
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