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Books and Magazines Topics related to WWI aviation authors, books and magazines

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Old 21 June 2008, 06:09 PM   #21 (permalink)
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The Martin Falconer series is my favourite it also includes the Interceptors and the Revolutionaries.
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Old 21 June 2008, 06:44 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Hi Pete;

You've read "Covenant With Death"? That's an old favourite of mine...

cheers

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Old 21 June 2008, 07:07 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Hi Neil,

yes, I certainly have and I've re-read it a number of times over the years. My old second-hand Pan copy eventually fell to bits but I was lucky to find a more recent edition in a discount basket in a newsagent a few years ago. In my opinion, it is John Harris' best novel and one of the most under-rated classics of Great War literature. The novel's true strong-point is the way it captures the spirit, optimism and comradeship of a Pals Battalion being formed and trained.
I don't think it is in print at present but it deserves to be. None of Harris' other war novels have come even close to having the same emotional impact of that one.
Regards Pete
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Old 21 June 2008, 07:23 PM   #24 (permalink)
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The John Harris Martin Falcouner novels are terrific even though they are aimed at a younger readership. I read two of them when I was 13. As they were library copies I have never seen them since. Even though they were intended for younger readers, I remember them being quite well-researched and grimly realistic most of the time, as well as being highly enjoyable reads. I downloaded images of two of them from abebooks:-





Cool cover art.

regards Pete
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Old 21 June 2008, 08:19 PM   #25 (permalink)
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One of the all-time classics, as Gregvan has already pointed out, is "Winged Victory" by Victor M Yeates. Written as a work of fiction, it is also semi-autobiographical and has a highly authentic air about it. This book, together with Cecil Lewis' Saggitarius Rising, were both great favourites amongst British fighter pilots in WW2, as they felt both books captured well what being a frontline combat flier was all about.
It is interesting to see the changes and growth in the personality and feelings of the book's central character, Tom Cundall. At the start of the novel, he is a pilot who is confident of the abilities of the RFC and dismissive of the German fliers they are going up against but he is somewhat in-secure about his own personal attributes in the air. As the novel progresses and the squadron's losses mount, he becomes more war-weary and cynical. He does not shirk from his duty but the flippant optimism has gone. By the novel's end, Cundall is a broken man. Exhausted and his nerves run ragged, Cundall is sent home on 'sick leave'. The novel ends on a sad, even bitter note, as Cundall looks out of the train's window at his homeland he just returned to:-

"This was England. Wandering lanes, hedged and ditched; casual, opulent beauty, trees heavy with fulfilment. This was his native land. He did not care."



Despite the painting used for the cover of the current edition, Tom Cundall and his unit fly Sopwith Camels and they are assigned to the dangerous task of ground-strafing. The book does a superb job of conveying what it was like to fly Camels and what difficult, unforgiving beasts they could be.

"Flying Camels was not everyones work. They were by far the most difficult of service machines to handle. Many pilots killed themselves by crashing in a right-hand spin when they were learning to fly them. A Camel hated an in-experienced hand, and flopped into a frantic spin at the least opportunity. They were unlike ordinary aeroplanes, being quite unstable, immoderately tail-heavy, so light on the controls that the slightest jerk or in-accuracy would hurl them all over the sky, difficult to land, deadly to crash: a list of vices to emasculate the stoutest courage, and the first flight on a Camel was always a terrible ordeal...."

In another chapter, Cundall gives grudging praise to the Fokker DVII:-

"But it wasn't possible to massacre Fokkers like Pfalz or Albatri. They were very fast, splitarse, and marvellous climbers. In the hands of confident pilots, they would be dangerous...."

The strong authentic tone of the book is testament to Yeates real-life experiences as a pilot over the Western Front. He flew with 46 Squadron RFC that operated Sopwith Camels from february 1918 onwards. Yeates saw heavy action and shot down five German planes and was shot down twice himself. Allegedly, he based the character of Tom Cundall on real-life friend and fellow flier, Henry Williamson. Sadly, it was not published until the year of Yeate's death from TB in 1934 and then went out-of-print due to a lack of another publisher. Only in 2004, did it become widely available. A biography of Yeates called "Winged Victor" was written by Gordon Atkin.

Pete
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Old 21 June 2008, 08:44 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete Hill View Post
Hi Neil,

yes, I certainly have and I've re-read it a number of times over the years. My old second-hand Pan copy eventually fell to bits but I was lucky to find a more recent edition in a discount basket in a newsagent a few years ago. In my opinion, it is John Harris' best novel and one of the most under-rated classics of Great War literature. The novel's true strong-point is the way it captures the spirit, optimism and comradeship of a Pals Battalion being formed and trained.
I don't think it is in print at present but it deserves to be. None of Harris' other war novels have come even close to having the same emotional impact of that one.
Regards Pete
Harris also published a non-fiction companion to "Covenant With Death" entitled "The Somme". Its okay but contains little that is new. It runs the line of the 'death of a generation' (The book's sub-title) and, as usual in such works, relates the failures of 1939 and beyond to the wastage on The Somme. A premise I personally don't subscribe to.

Sorry to interject this into the aviation thread but I thought you might be interested.

And I must say, after reading your review of "Winged Victory" that its gone to the top of my "Must Get List"!

Cheers

Neil
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Old 21 June 2008, 08:49 PM   #27 (permalink)
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"In the Company of Eagles" by Ernest K Gann.



This fine novel, originally published in 1966, is another classic of the genre. Telling the story of air-fighting in 1917, it centres on two airmen, one French and the other German and how they eventually meet in the skies over the Western front. The plot device of portraying the viewpoints of two protaganists and having them eventually meet in combat has been used many times in war novels but it works well here as it manages to avoid a predictable ending. There is no clear-cut definition of good and evil as the Frenchman Paul Chamay seeks to find and destroy the German ace Kupper who ruthlessly killed Chamay's friend who was flying an already crippled Observation plane. Kupper is increasingly uncomfortable and un-settled by not only his own actions, but that of the war unfolding around him. When the final battle arrives, Kupper's Albatross is crippled and his guns jammed. Yet Chamay cannot bring himself to shoot down the helpess enemy and with the knowledge that he cannot perform such a ruthless act, the Frenchman is relieved and elated, performing a victory roll over the Albatross, saluting Kupper and flying away, leaving the German to limp home to safety.
Chamay is overjoyed in the knowledge that whilst he bettered Kupper, he also managed to maintain his humanity through sparing his enemy so whilst the German lived, it was the Frenchman who won in all respects. Kupper himself applies for sick leave upon his return. His reasons are not made clear as we only learn of this through the conversation of another two German pilots, one of whom is on the verge of a nervous breakdown, brought about by Kupper's sudden and calm desire to quit fighting.
Gann's extensive aviation experience in real-life, both as a military, private and commercial pilot, gave all his aviation books a strong feel of authenticity.

"Declarations of War" by Len Deighton




This novel, a collection of 11 short stories dealing with the theme of warfare, includes 2 short stories on the WW1 air-war. "Lord Nick flies again" and "Winter Patrol"

Pete
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Last edited by Pete Hill; 21 June 2008 at 09:01 PM.
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Old 22 June 2008, 12:31 AM   #28 (permalink)
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On the subject of cool cover art, here are some from my own collection.



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Old 22 June 2008, 12:53 AM   #29 (permalink)
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Staying on the theme of cool cover art, here's some more I downloaded off the net.










Cheers, Pete
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Old 22 June 2008, 10:46 AM   #30 (permalink)
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John Harris is ALSO Max Hennesy...
Actually, my research shows that these are both pseudonyms for one Mark Hebden,
The Hennessy books have nice covers too.
Three More, with Links.
John Harris - The Mustering Of The Hawks
Max Hennessy - The Bright Blue Sky
Max Hennessy - The Challanging Heights


Oops.. I haven't added the last one's cover yet (found it in a local flea market last month!). I'll add that
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