Customer Review

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Readable but flawed, 18 Mar 2008
This review is from: The Few: The American Knights of the Air Who Risked Everything to Fight in the Battle of Britain (Hardcover)
"The Few" is Alex Kershaw's work on five Americans who defied their country's neutrality laws to fight in the RAF during the Battle of Britain. Sounds wonderful in summary but unfortunately the book has quite a number of flaws and (as others have already mentioned) inaccuracies. I ordered a copy from the USA as soon as it was published in 2006 as I have more than a passing interest in Billy Fiske (one of the Americans covered in "The Few") and have been collecting information on him for a number of years now. What I found with "The Few", at least with Fiske anyway, was a work which basically just rehashed all the information (both true and false) already published regarding Fiske from other books and magazine articles. There was no sign that the author had tried to do any deeper digging regarding research or uncover new unpublished facts regarding Fiske, which disappointed me hugely.

Saying that, the writing style is engaging and the book whips along when read. It is not the definitive work on Americans in the Battle of Britain and it is not entirely accurate in places, but I suppose it will do the job of encouraging readers who know little about the Battle of Britain and these men to want to find out more. In my opinion it is a shame that it could not have been more, both in accuracy, scope and research.
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Tracked by 1 customer

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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 26 Mar 2008 14:33:03 GMT
John Glenn says:
what flaws? either be specific or back off.

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Mar 2008 17:16:30 GMT
Last edited by the author on 29 Mar 2008 17:52:02 GMT
Smithy says:
Well here's two for starters...

On page 65 you list Fiske's first flight in a 601 machine as taking place on the 20th July, when Andy Saunders and Tony Holmes both list this as occurring on the 14th July (incidentally he suffered a burst tyre on return).

Another one is on page 66 where you talk of "winning Olympic gold on the Cresta Run". Fiske never won gold on the Cresta Run. He won gold in St Moritz when the Winter Olympics were held there, but in the five man bob, and that was competed for on the separate bob track, not on the Run. The Cresta was an Olympic sport only in 1928 and 1948 and Fiske never competed in it when it was, rather he rode during seasons as a member of the SMTC. Fiske's big claims to fame on the Run, are that he never fell on the Run, and he held the fastest time from Top of 56.7, which wasn't broken until 1955.

Actually I largely enjoyed your book Alex, unfortunately I cannot say the same for the abrasive tone in your comment above.

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Apr 2008 15:02:38 BDT
John Glenn says:
it's always clear from comments from people like you that you wish you could actually write the book yourself - or one on Fiske anyway. I look forward to your first published effort....I'm sure it won't have a single mistake....not one.....try it yourself, mate....

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Apr 2008 15:04:22 BDT
John Glenn says:
it's always clear from comments from people like you that you wish you could actually write the book yourself - or one on Fiske anyway. I look forward to your first published effort....I'm sure it won't have a single mistake....not one.....try it yourself, mate....

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Apr 2008 11:40:05 BDT
Last edited by the author on 11 Apr 2008 11:42:28 BDT
Smithy says:
Actually Alex, as Amazon users are permitted to do, I simply wrote a review of your book after reading it. I didn't slate your work at all (if you have even bothered to look, I gave it 3 out of 5 stars which last time I checked is hardly scathing) and wrote honestly what I personally thought of "The Few". Then after your rather brusque comment challenging me to, as you so charmingly put it, "be specific or back off", I qualified my review with a couple of examples. I am entitled to my opinion and have merely stated it. However I really don't see your need to be so defensive about one reader's opinion and to be so rude in your manner of challenging it.

I have no desire nor plan to write a book but I hope that if I should, I will be man enough to accept other's opinions of it and be adult enough to take honest criticism with good grace.

In reply to an earlier post on 23 May 2008 14:13:51 BDT
[Deleted by the author on 23 May 2008 14:14:35 BDT]

Posted on 17 Jul 2009 10:49:35 BDT
[Deleted by the author on 17 Jul 2009 10:56:46 BDT]

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Jun 2010 05:31:45 BDT
Nagronsky says:
Well, one glaring error that was repeated, is the author repeatedly calling ground crew(i.e. armorers & mechanics) Airmen, as opposed to Aircraftman, or AC. I chalked it up to ignorant American editors.
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