Top critical review
36 people found this helpful
The Young Aviator
on 2 November 2001
This was not the first Biggles book to be published (that was THE CAMELS ARE COMING, of 1932), but chronologically it is the first book of Biggles' adventures in WWI. Although many of Biggles' exploits and experiences recounted here actually befell Johns and his fellow officers during the air war, there is a curious absence of real grit and immediacy, such as I have found in actual autobiographies of WW I fighting aces. I assume Johns, who quickly realized that young readers were his main audience, simply left them out. [I haven't had a chance to compare the original 1935 edition with later editions, revised as late as 1955. I assume what we have here is the 1955 version.]
One annoying feature of the present edition is a number of usually completely unnecessary footnotes. Quite often, the footnoted name or term is actually explained in the text itself, a line or two after the footnote! Bad editing by some casual meddler who was unwisely involved in the preparation of this circa 1992 paperback.
Anyway, if you love Biggles, and many do, including me, you'll want to read of these exploits that
take place just before he joined the famous 266 squadron and met Algy Lacey. Quite a bit of air-war excitement, and some of it authentic too.