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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A splendid series begins
Robinson writes excellently here and in his other books about fliers in WW1 and WW2. Dark, funny and best of all unsentimental. I've just finished "A Damned Good Show" - easily as good as its predecessors - so unless he writes another one (come on Derek) I'll have to reread Goshawk and co. If this is your maiden flight with Hornet Squadron, you're very lucky.
Published on 4 Mar 2003 by anthony ferguson

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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A WW1 Farce
This book seems to be more of a farce set in World War 1 than a serious war story. The dialogue between the squadron pilots is well written and amusing but the characters aren't well developed and I couldn't tell the difference between any of them, they were just names (although maybe this was the point....). There also seem to be several pointless sub plots that don't go...
Published on 30 Sep 2008 by J. P. Reynolds


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A splendid series begins, 4 Mar 2003
By 
anthony ferguson (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
Robinson writes excellently here and in his other books about fliers in WW1 and WW2. Dark, funny and best of all unsentimental. I've just finished "A Damned Good Show" - easily as good as its predecessors - so unless he writes another one (come on Derek) I'll have to reread Goshawk and co. If this is your maiden flight with Hornet Squadron, you're very lucky.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A strong, bitter and tragic first novel, 24 Oct 2001
By A Customer
when I read this book I was surprised that it was first published in 1971,it still seems fresh, sharp and witty today. The story Robinson puts accross is of an inexperienced unit being kicked (quite literally)into shape by their bitter CO, Stanley Wooley. The novel is set in the closing months of the Great war and the reader really gets the sense of how weary all the characters must have been after four years of war. The descriptions of action in the air and life on the ground are convincing, and not giving too much away - the end was probably the best way to conclude a novel of this nature.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brutally black humoured tale of a war that's lost it's way., 26 Sep 2007
Life is cheap and short in this story of WW1 pilots. A sense of honour will get you killed. Expect nothing else. Marvellously taut and humourous. The bare bones of survival and death in war.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark, real, captivating and funny., 22 May 2001
A great book that bursts the traditional view of war and shows it more as it was, dark and frightening. The characters are superb and the humour is spot on, yet the subject matter is never lost, the humour serves a very real purpose. A great book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars captures the dark and tragic nature of war, 22 Sep 2012
By 
Rob Kitchin - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Goshawk Squadron (Paperback)
Goshawk Squadron was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1971. It was criticised by some former RFC pilots who felt it denigrated the memories of those who fought the air war. Others praised it for showing the true nature of a war that was brutal mass slaughter and it was no different in the air to other services. Pilots were flying planes made of principally of wood, canvas and wire, and the engines were treated with castor oil to keep them lubricated, the fumes of which acted as a laxative that was countered by alcohol. Pilots often flew several missions a day traversing two sets of trenches where they were liable to be shot at from both sides, plus sustained anti-air barrages, to face superior planes. Tensions and fears were high amongst pilots, most of whom had only recently finished school, and they often let off steam in local villages. Robinson captures the true dark nature of war; it's brutal realities. The tale is relatively straightforward, following the men's exploits and relationships over a few months. The action sequences are excellent and the opening couple of chapters are amongst the best I've read in a while; the writing really alive on the page, laced with dark humour. It then settles down, becoming a little more mundane. Whilst some of the men are well drawn and distinctive, others are pretty indistinguishable and under-realised. And in Woolley he pushes the callous leader, who really believes he is doing the right thing by his men by trying to harden them to be ruthless, to its limits. Overall, an engaging, well written novel that shows war for what it really is.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Does for the Royal Flying Corps in prose what Sassoon, Brooke and Owen did for 1WW soldiers in poetry, 13 July 2010
By 
Mark Meynell "quaesitor" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Goshawk Squadron (Paperback)
How about this for an opening paragraph?
"January 15th, 1918, was a cold, sparkling, sunny day. Not much happened in the Great War that day. As usual, about two thousand men (of the millions along the Western Front) died; some because they stuck their heads up too high and got shot; some because they got their feet wet too often and caught pneumonia; many by accident; and a steady few by their own hand. It was one thousand two hundred and sixty days sine Britain and Germany had declared war. Not that anyone was counting."

So begins Derek Robinson's 1971 novel about the Royal Flying Corps, Goshawk Squadron. It is now regarded as something of a classic - and it's easy to see why. Set in the last year of the war, the opening paragraph sets the tone: matter-of-fact and sardonic, cynical and war-worn. Robinson searingly conjures up the brutality and insanity of war, as these young men, commanded by a deranged and fatalistic young major, Stanley Woolley (aged only 22), flew S.E. 5's (see left). They were lambs to the slaughter, in some ways even more vulnerable in their flimsy planes than the millions ranged in the trenches thousands of feet below them.

This gives another flavour:
"'Somebody did tell me he thought they might be a tiny bit stronger than us at the moment. I believe the figure mentioned was one and half million in rifle strength... Of course I got that from a chap in Intelligence,' Woodruffe said. 'They're always wrong.'
'What I can't understand,' Richards said, 'is why we have to wait. Why don't we hit them first?'
'It's been tried,' Lambert told him. 'Remember Passchendaele? That was our idea'
'Passchendaele,' said Dickinson softly. 'Passion Dale. There's something almost Miltonic about it. or do I mean Bunyanesque? Ranks of valiant warriors crashing to catastrophe, with a great deal of rolling thunder and rather too much sulphur and brimstone.'
'It was pretty horrible,' said Kimberley severely.
'Don't tell me, chum. I was there. I flew forty-three patrols in one week.'
'Have you really been in the Corps that long?' Woodruffe asked in surprise. 'I had no idea it was that long.'" (p75) [NB Passchendaele was only about 6 months before]

As Robinson says in the afterword, he was deliberately seeking to shatter the myth of airborne chivalry, Lloyd-George's so-called cavalry of the clouds. Far from fighting with decorum and dignity, the only hope was to get the other guy in the back before he got you - no evenly matched noble dogfights here. Woolley is determined to see his young recruits kill rather than survive - he doesn't even bother to learn some of their names - because he knows they won't last.

"The squadron spent the rest of the day settling in. Three replacements arrived: Callaghan, Peacock and Blunt, straight from Flying Training Schools in England. The adjutant, holding his head with one hand, took them to Woolley, 'Replacements, sir,' he said. 'Their names...'
'I don't want to know,' Woolley said flatly. He looked at their fresh, serious, eager-to-impress faces and turned away. He was eating a cold sausage; his tongue located a piece of gristle and spat it out. 'I am a genial, jovial and well-liked commanding officer,' he told them. 'My warmth and charm are exceeded only by my old-fashioned courtesy and my f***ing sympathy.' He started at Lambert's stranded plane. 'As long as you are in this shoddy squadron, there are certain words you will not use. Here they are. Fair, sporting, honourable, decent, gentlemanly.' Woolley felt in his pocket, took out a flimsy telegram, read it, blew his nose on it, and threw it away. 'Those are bad words,' he said. 'Bad, murdering words. Don't even think them.': (p105)

Robinson uses the 12 forces of the Beaufort scale as a nice device to ratchet up the tension - each chapter begins with the description of the next force up. This grows the sense of chaotic doom - who survives or dies is as much a matter of chance as anything else. It is as raw as it can get - the ultimate expression in the bestial side of human nature. Just as for those who fought, this book is remorseless and dark. But all the more important for that. Because in this war, as with so many, there were no real winners

Goshawk Squadron does in prose what so many of the greats like Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, and Rupert Brooke did in poetry. It's an extraordinary read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant book, 6 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Goshawk Squadron (Paperback)
read all his books first class author, black humour , irony , sadness and brief moments of joy in a mad war
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4.0 out of 5 stars A rollocking good read, 5 Jan 2012
By 
D. Johnson "DGJ" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Goshawk Squadron (Paperback)
As with all Robinsons books they are a good read and factually pretty good. Have read the lot and can recommend them all.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Goshawk Squadron, 3 Mar 2011
By 
Mr. Paul Allen "Skwonk" (Tavistock, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Goshawk Squadron (Paperback)
I first read this in the early 80's and have just read it again recently. Derek Robinson is the only fiction I will actively seek out. Much better than any 'gung ho bunkum' littering the shelves of book shops and libraries the land over. Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Just Brilliant!, 10 Jan 2010
By 
J. Fowler - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Goshawk Squadron (Paperback)
This product is the most brilliant item I have ever bought and I really enjoy the simplicity that it brings.
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Goshawk Squadron by Derek Robinson (Paperback - 29 Sep 2005)
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