Most helpful positive review
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Background to a history still vaguely recorded
on 17 October 2008
Having been moved, each time, reading Saggitarius Rising, I moved on to other fictional accounts of WW1 aviation. Discovering On a Wing and a Prayer at last was a pleasure.
Wary at first that the author did not have a background in aviation, I was soon persuaded that his credentials were not questionable.
Mr Levine puts those other books into some sensible context. How the RAF evolved from naval orgins is just a part of the history. What we have here is a readable history with the personal testimonies of those involved, which maybe these days is how we prefer our education. I cannot share the concerns of another reviewer who finds this too simplified for a serious reader. This is a well-researched book, assembled with care. The detail is sufficient for all but the most dedicated anorak; the contemporary accounts are well-chosen and selectively placed and there are enough illustrations to give the reader a little more to aid the imagination of that most dreadful war.
If the book contained only the diaries of the 'pioneering aviation heroes', it would be valuable but inadequate. The author adds enough political and historical background to give those words additional impact. If like me your knowledge of The Great War has vast gaps, this might just help. I'm not an avid reader of histories, but an avid private pilot. Knowing the background to ones current privileges makes them all the more precious.