Customer Reviews


34 Reviews
5 star:
 (17)
4 star:
 (11)
3 star:
 (3)
2 star:
 (2)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The antidote to Biggles
Derek Robinson is an undiscovered gem. War Story is part of his WW1 Trilogy and tells of the trials of a fighter squadron in France. It is an the antidote to Biggles. Robinson writes with wit and an insight into the cruelty of war as it destroys people mentally and physically. Thsi book has been out of print for a long time and I am very pleased to see it available again...
Published on 10 Dec. 2000 by Renown

versus
1.0 out of 5 stars Death by book
This story is so painfully slow and moribund it died before the end .....the funny wasn't, just boring and dire.
Published 1 month ago by Waxcutter


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The antidote to Biggles, 10 Dec. 2000
By 
Renown (Basingstoke, England) - See all my reviews
Derek Robinson is an undiscovered gem. War Story is part of his WW1 Trilogy and tells of the trials of a fighter squadron in France. It is an the antidote to Biggles. Robinson writes with wit and an insight into the cruelty of war as it destroys people mentally and physically. Thsi book has been out of print for a long time and I am very pleased to see it available again. Read this and you'll never stomach Tom Clancy again!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grimly humorous tale of World War 1 flying, 8 April 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: War Story (Paperback)
Bristolian Derek Robinson's books cover a range of interests, however my personal choice would always be his wartime fiction, either from World War 1 or 2.
New readers may find his penchant for developing a character only to destroy this "person" on a whim, rather disconcerting, however it effectively puts across the feelings of those serving during wartime, who meet new friends only to have these friends lost within a week or two. The flying sequences aren't overburdened with technical detail yet retain an authentic feel for those who are particularly concerned with "accuracy".
The non-flying sections are generally well paced, the slower parts generally being due to the occasional lyrical passage, where some hard-bitten character will contemplate the beauty of a sky in which he'll probably be fighting for his life later in the day. When reading these books I generally end up thinking "this would make a great film!", mainly because the great number of films on the subject never seem to strike the balance that Derek Robinson achieves with ease.
One book "Piece of Cake" was turned into a 6-part TV serial in England, however, that serial never quite hit the same note as the book, especially with the (occasionally grim) humour of the book almost entirely removed, particularly the more slapstick elements.
War Story and Goshawk Squadron both cover the World War 1 scenario in northern France and in this writer's opinion are examples of the best in Derek Robinson's writing, with War Story having the edge.
I think that anyone with an interest in this era of conflict, and the unique relationships which were forged during that time, will love these books. If there is any criticism to be levelled at War Story and its ilk, it would be that there is no obvious conclusion, no great struggle to a climactic apocalypse, but then anyone who has read about the facts of World War 1 in any detail will realise that this was the nature of that war.
Read, enjoy! If you can find a copy!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Catch 1916, 31 July 2013
By 
Crookedmouth ":-/" (Somewhere in the Jurassic...) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: War Story (Kindle Edition)
Oliver Paxton is a young, inexperienced subaltern in the RFC. His first mission is to lead four of his comrades, in their shiny new BE2c fighters, from England to the front in France. What should have been an afternoon's flight takes five days, during which time Paxton misplaces all of his flight, gets horribly lost himself, crashes (twice) and pisses his pants quite spectacularly. Things couldn't get much worse, could they? Apart from alienating everyone else in his squadron including his room-mate, his c/o and his batman, probably not...

(Please Note: I have written this review to cover all three books in the trilogy)

Derek Robinson is the author of "Piece of Cake" a fictional novel about an RAF Hurricane squadron's exploits during the early days of WW2 and the Battle of Britain. The book was made into a TV series in the 1980's and was criticised by some who disliked it's less than heroic portrayal of the pilots, preferring the more traditional mythical image of the clean-cut, clear-eyed Brylcreem boys. Robinson also wrote three other books about the RAF, in much the same vein; A Good Clean Fight, Damned Good Show and Hullo Russia, Goodbye England.

As well as that (he was a good deal more prolific that I suspected) he wrote what is known as "The RFC Trilogy", the subject of this review. The series follows the travails of a Royal Flying Corps squadron over, behind and occasionally in the trenches in war torn Belgium in 1916-18. The mythical squadron changes names through the series from Hornet Sqn to Goshawk Sqn and back again and is the same Hornet Sqn that reappears in France 1939 in A Piece of Cake. The RFC Trilogy was written out of order and should be read thusly; War Story, (1987), Goshawk Squadron (1971) and Hornet's Sting (1999). The series has come in for simlar criticism to A Piece of Cake, being very much a warts and all portrayal. While it is de rigeur to show WW1 generals in a bad light, criticising the lions who were led by those donkeys is not the done thing. However, Robinson doesn't shy away from reminding us that the RFC pilots were for the most part ordinary young men thrust into extraordinary circumstances and were as likely to be cowards, fools and bullies as they were heroes, paragons and idealists.

The series certainly owes far more to Catch-22 than Reach for the Sky. It is written in a humourous tone and the pilots' banter is likely to raise many laughs, but there is a richly cynical vein running through the novels. The senseless waste of human life, the casual savagery of the world's first truly industrial war, and the protagonists' struggle to come to terms with their part in it are starkly portrayed and Robinson outdoes Joseph Heller with considerable skill. It's hard to know whether to laugh or cry. If it seems that he overplays the blood thirst of some of the protagonist, it's worth remembering that some of the War's most famous aces took some considerable pleasure in sending German aeroplanes (and of course their occupants) down in flames; "Crackle crackle! Frying tonight!"

The series is very well researched, and the aviation enthusiast will enjoy reading about the various aeroplanes operated by Hornet Sqn and the tactics they used. Robinson puts you right in the cockpit of the squadron's Quirks, Biffs, Pups and SE5s and the aerial combat scenes are exciting and vivid.

One difficulty with the reading is keeping up with the characters, many of whom come sand go with great rapidity. This is hardly a valid criticism. In reality, the training given to the RFCs pilots was so lamentable that many died on their first operational patrol, often without having had the chance to unpack their kitbags (which at least had the benefit of making the orderly officer's job a little easier). Generally, the old sweats rarely bothered to learn the new pilots' names until they had completed a couple of flights over the trenches.

This is a fantastic series that will be enjoyed by anyone who enjoys a good war adventure; funny, thrilling, poignantly thought-provoking, intelligent and cynical.

"If you're worried about Foster's state of mind," the adjutant said, "you could always send him to see a doctor called Jackson. That's who my general sent me to see after I shot young Ashby. Jackson's the Army's top man on heads, I understand."

"How did you get on with him?" "Useless. The man's mentally defective." "As a matter of interest," Dando said, "how could you tell?" "Simple. He wanted to talk about panic. How could one recognise panic? So I picked up the poker and chased him round his desk for a couple of minutes. He knew all about panic. Didn't thank me for it, though. Got very angry, screamed, made no sense. Touch of insanity somewhere in the family, I shouldn't wonder."
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Catch 1916, 28 July 2013
By 
Crookedmouth ":-/" (Somewhere in the Jurassic...) - See all my reviews
This review is from: War Story (Paperback)
Oliver Paxton is a young, inexperienced subaltern in the RFC. His first mission is to lead four of his comrades, in their shiny new BE2c fighters, from England to the front in France. What should have been an afternoon's flight takes five days, during which time Paxton misplaces all of his flight, gets horribly lost himself, crashes (twice) and pisses his pants quite spectacularly. Things couldn't get much worse, could they? Apart from alienating everyone else in his squadron including his room-mate, his c/o and his batman, probably not...

What a fine discovery this was; I came upon Derek Robinson's RFC/RAF series literally by chance while browsing Amazon for something else and my eye was caught by the lovely cover art. I was entirely unaware of Robinson and I am surprised he's not a more well-known, widely read author because, if War Story is anything to go by, he really should be. This is a beautifully crafted novel about an RFC squadron in war-torn France in the lead up to the Somme offensive. It is a gloriously subtle tragi-comic blend - wittily written, there are plenty of laugh out loud moments in a novel that is populated by a number of characters of various degrees of eccentricity. But it soon becomes very clear that these eccentricities are a by-product of the stresses and horrors of their day-to-day existence in a vast and impersonal war; it is a defence mechanism against the uncertainty of the pilots' own personal mortality and the certain and obvious mortality of their friends and associates.

War Story reads like a mash-up of Heller's Catch-22 and any of Patrick o'Brian's "Master and Commander" series; blending the war-weary, fatalistic cynicism of the former with the languid, witty and unhurried story-crafting of the latter. While War Story captured me in it's opening chapter and I couldn't put it down. Very highly recommended.

"If you're worried about Foster's state of mind," the adjutant said,"you could always send him to see a doctor called Jackson. That's who my general sent me to see after I shot young Ashby. Jackson's the Army's top man on heads, I understand."

"How did you get on with him?" "Useless. The man's mentally defective." "As a matter of interest," Dando said,"how could you tell?" "Simple. He wanted to talk about panic. How could one recognise panic? So I picked up the poker and chased him round his desk for a couple of minutes. He knew all about panic. Didn't thank me for it, though. Got very angry, screamed, made no sense. Touch of insanity somewhere in the family, I shouldn't wonder."
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Much better than expected!, 16 Oct. 2010
By 
Paul Harris (Llantrisant, Wales) - See all my reviews
Didn't expect this to be as good as it is. It steadily grew on me....as does the transformation in the central character's outlook on the futility of their war. Almost reads like a WW1 'Catch 22' in many ways.

Written with well-formed and believable characters throughout, the steady loss of which throughout the narrative conveys the tiniest of senses (if it were at all possible) to the reader of what that tragic generation must have endured. This book will stay in my mind for some time, and I will definately read others by Robinson.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gritty novel of the RFC 1n 1916, 12 July 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: War Story (Paperback)
Derek Robinson writes a tight gripping novel based on real life accounts of the air war in 1916. There is dark humour in these pages and it gives the lie to the "Chivalry in the Air" myth and depicts well what it was like to fly daily multiple sorties into enemy territory and where inexperience killed more pilots than the enemy.

The characters, the aeroplanes and the war are all brought into sharp focus and it's difficult to put this book down. I heartily recommend it to all who wonder what life was like at the beginning of air combat. It will change your perception for ever.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars War Story by Derek Robinson, 15 Jun. 2014
By 
Mr. David Hopwood (West Yorkshire, U.K.) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: War Story (Kindle Edition)
I must admit to having mixed feelings about this book. It is well enough written, but there is just a little too much emphasis on the inter-personal relationships of the squadron members for my liking, and not quite enough on the flying/fighting. I found myself wondering when the author would get to the point.

One chapter I found myself taking particular attention to is at the very end of the book, it concerns what facts Mr. Robinson stuck to and what liberties he took to either fill in gaps or make the story more interesting. I had already picked out almost every anomaly, but it still fascinated me that any author would do this. Something I have never seen before.

There are so few books of this kind available that it has to go on the recommended reading list for anyone fascinated by the life and the action in WWI Royal Flying Corps squadrons. Unfortunately I can't quite justify 5 stars due to my comments above.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Short lives, 26 Oct. 2012
By 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: War Story (Kindle Edition)
Clearly in a story like this it is very difficult to build up characters. Also because the combatants are killed off so quickly it is difficult to develop a story line. Notwithstanding this book does bring home the horrors of arial conflict and is a good read if not of the "Biggles" kind
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Riot, 7 Nov. 2011
This review is from: War Story (Paperback)
An excellent, obscure book. Without banging the self-congratulatory anti-war drum, Robinson conveys the horrors of war. He also conveys the absurdity. And he also tells a high-spirited adventure story with likeable characters. It is a very male book and in a good, celebratory way.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Highly entertaining, 7 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: War Story (Kindle Edition)
This book, set in the RFC’s Hornet Squadron just prior to the Battle of the Somme, is the first of a trilogy that follows the exploits of young, mostly teenage pilots, in the confusion, horror and surprise of primitive aerial combat.

Although the flying sequences are beautifully described this story chiefly examines the relationships between the young flyers and how they handle the inevitability of death in the air. Their friends or their own.

The Mess room banter is consistently jolly and reflects youth under stress. Though probably authentic, their constant cheerfulness, either real or forced, begins to grate after a while, but this is a small criticism.

War Story won’t be the last book I’ll read by Derek Robinson but be warned, this author kills off his leading characters with the same casual ease as George R.R. Martin.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

War Story
War Story by Derek Robinson
£4.69
Add to wishlist See buying options
Only search this product's reviews