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4.6 out of 5 stars61
4.6 out of 5 stars
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I did not think this was a great book, not a brilliant read either. The author admits at the start that he kept neither diary's or notes during the war and that what follows is based upon memory. For me there is too little on the actual business of fighting in the air and too much introspection and a desire on the author's part not to let the reader too far in. For example, there is no mention in the book that the Mr Lewis married a Russian girl in China after the war, a point I would have thought at least worth a mention. Rather we get a lot of strange, obscure sentences and the reader is left on their own to pull out whatever they may from the obscure sentences. I expected to read a straight forward account of the air war over France instead what one gets is something that reads a lot like "flight from Arras"; maybe the 2 authors were friends. Not really for me.
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on 15 September 2015
I tough read and given its age I suppose that is to be expected. A different slant on the 1914-18 air fighting but given the author and his real life experiences probably as accurate as to the real experience as you will find.
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on 25 March 2015
Having quite a few books on the First World, mostly non-fiction, I was intrigued to read this book. Firstly, funnily enough I did enjoy it. It was refreshing to read something that was not gung ho, was downplayed, almost low key - and yet the gleam of understanding and compassion shone through the whole of it. The book appears episodic in some ways and shows, at the beginning, the naivete of the young man. In some respects it shows how a young officer (I was in the Merchant Navy myself and under different conditions) has to come to terms with his own limitations and expand beyond them where necessary. An intriguing read and the human element shines through all the time.
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on 1 July 2014
I have come back to this classic after 30 years and like a fine wine, it has improved with the keeping! It is, without doubt, one of the finest books in the aviator's library.
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on 8 May 2014
I saw the author talking on the BBC Great War series and was impressed enough to look him up on the internet. I read he had written some books and found this one was in print. I ordered ii and it came the next day. An astonishing adventure for a 17 year old lad. It was written 20 years after the war and the added reflections of a grown man looking back add poignancy to the narrative. It is a treat to discover gems like this.
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on 11 December 2013
Being a pilot I could not but feel that I was sitting beside Cecil Lewis.To fly as he did to France to fight in an aeroplane with so little experience of flying was awsome.
In a light aircraft I have flown the route he took and walked the turf of St Omer airfield and town.
His aircraft was not greatly different in available power etc from my own. He was just a boy!!!! I am 77years.
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on 2 February 2016
Cecil Lewis' Great War memoir is deservedly a classic. It is beautifully written and evocative of a time long gone, never to return. Vivid action sequences, melancholy descriptions of personal loss. Cannot recommend it highly enough to those interested in First World War aviation, but also, to those who love good writing.
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on 29 December 2013
Cecil Lewis was as much a poet as a pilot. He writes of his flying experiences in the Great War some twenty years after the event but his account is most realistic. I think that Duncan Grinnel-Milne's 'The Wind in the Wires' is a better read about flying at the same time but unfortunately this book is no longer in print.
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on 21 August 2014
This reads like 'Forrest Gump' - but this character is for real: fighting and surviving the First World War then going on to set up the BBC. Most amazing of all is that Cecil Lewis was interviewed at length in 1964 for the BBC Series 'The Great War' so you can hear an introduction to this work in the author's own words.
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on 2 April 2014
A cannot put down book until the last few chapters where he talks about after the war and his experience in China 'Yawn'!
Close the book on page 267 chapter VIII 'The Voyage East' if you only wanted to read his experiences as a fighter pilot in WW1.
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