- Also check our best rated Biography reviews
Sagittarius Rising Paperback – 15 Dec 2006
Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
If you want to read one book which best captures the heroic infancy of flying, then Sagittarius Rising is it. Forget St Exupery, Lindbergh or even Richard Hillary. Cecil Lewis got there before any of them, and in this magical memoir summed up the terrible beauty of flying, and fighting the first air war, waged in the skies above the Western Front. --Nigel Jones, BBC History Magazine
Sagittarius Rising is his stirring, often moving, account of his years with the corps, fighting on the Western Front. The vivid descriptions of dog-fights (including an encounter with the Red Baron) and the exhilaration of flight transcend Boy's Own Paper banality through his poignancy and lyrical depth. --The Times
This is a book everyone should read. It is the autobiography of an ace, and no common ace either. The boy had all the noble tastes and qualities, love of beauty, soaring imagination, a brilliant endowment of good looks . . . this prince of pilots . . . had a charmed life in every sense of the word . . . he is a thinker, a master of words, and a bit of a poet. --George Bernard Shaw
About the Author
Cecil Lewis distinguished himself in action with eight victories throughout WWI and was awarded the MC. After the war he became a flying instructor in China and later achieved fame as one of the founders of the BBC, and as a respected playwright. He died in 1997.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
If you are attracted by "those magnificent men in their flying machines" then you should like this. Cecil Lewis, at the tender age of 18, was over the Somme dodging "Archie" ( anti-aircraft fire) and German fighter planes. He obviously lived to tell the tale, this at a time when the life expectancy of a pilot in the fledgling RAF was a mere three weeks. Mr Lewis lost many of his comrades but he tells his story well, even poetically at times. His story ends in the early twenties just after his time in China, where he taught a few young Chinese to fly, soaring sometimes over the Great Wall of China. There is even time for him to reflect upon his mortality and "the meaning of life". I would like to have met him. Good stuff!
Undeterred I still purchased the book and have to say the point above is a valid one. The book is still worth reading, especially if you also watch the bbc.co.uk short clip recording of his post Great War interview (search under his name in iPlayer "The Great War Interviews" and you will see his recorded recollection are equally focussed in the book and well worth comparing with each other. Viewing the description of how he lost an Observer when a shell hit him and watching him get upset, then reading the same passage in the book brings an extra poignancy to the reading as you feel his sadness in the passage.
Other events recorded in the book feel less focussed, comments like "log book records a flight with observer XXXX I cannot even remember what he looked like, it is just a name. (Not an exact quote but you will spot the passage upon reading), do not help.
Even so, still worth reading, just do not expect too much. Currently reading Open Cockpit by Arthur Gould Lee which is better written and more focused so consider this book as well
Lewis is a bit of a poet and as a result some of his musings can require effort. Nevertheless, they are worth the sweat. The author consistently drops gems of observation that cause one to "Hmmmmmm" out loud or highlight the section in question. Sagittarius Rising is a book for readers of all ages. However, the older one is I suspect the more profound the passages will prove.
If moved to buy this book, or if you can't decide, I highly recommend finding the TV interview that Lewis did for the BBC in 1963 or 1964. It's easy to find on the internet by typing "Cecil Lewis The Great War Interviews" or something similar. It runs almost 40 minutes and it really brings Lewis to life. So much so that when you read Sagittarius Rising it feels like he's sitting right next to you!
Throughout the book Lewis writes with a mixture of pathos and humour. In places the language is arcane with early 20th century slang but the book absorbs you. Lewis descibes the characters within this real life drama with compassion and records their deaths with clear sorrow.. Even from the distance of a hundred years the reader also cannot but help mourn the loss of such fine people.
The majority of the book relates to the period 1915-18 but the final chapter relates to Lewis part in an attempt to set up an early civil air service in China. Though this final chapter is by definition very different from the rest of the book it is itself enlightening.
Overall a very good read and a worthy tribute to fine people whose lives ended far too soon.
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Most recent customer reviews