Captain Eddie V. Rickenbacker, originally from Ohio, was best known as one of the commanders of the 94th "Hat-in-the-Ring" Squadron, a crack unit of World War I pilots that included many former members of the famed Lafayette Escadrille.
The 94th ended the war in France with the highest number of air victories of any American squadron. Captain Rickenbacker later belonged to an association of pilots and Great War air veterans who, in the years immediately following the Second World War, invited many of the new "young" aces from the Pacific and European theaters for informal lectures. These men never lost their keen interest in aviation.
Public Domain (P)2012 Tantor
I am an avid eclectic reader.
This book was written in 1919 and tells of his life flying planes during WWI. He was a WW1 ace and won the Medal of Honor as well as awards from France and England. He also wrote a book about his survival in a life raft after being shot down during WW11 his crew was at the time the longest survivors ever recovered alive in WW11. In civilian life he founded Eastern Airlines. He tells the story in a matter of fact way never making himself out to be a hero. He tells of the day to day life as well as the pros and cons of the machines they flew. This is the story of the beginning of what would become the U.S. Air Force. He made a comment in passing about the heroic role played by the U.S. Red Cross and U.S. YMCA in feeding the refuges flooding into Paris and by doing so saved Paris from riots and other problems caused by starving frighten people. There was so much history given in just an easy conversational way. A great book if you are interested in history.
High school history and psychology teacher currently working on a scholarly article on 13th-century Franciscan theologian Guibert of Tournai
Historical primary sources that are this colorful are rare. WWI has been hugely overshadowed by WWII for most Americans interested in history for a number of reasons, one being that it seems obscure, foreign, and bleak to today's reader. Rickenbacker's account gives it an immediacy that cannot be denied: these were young men fighting on the last front of modern war that had some claim to a code of gallantry and chivalry, though total war is by its nature brutal and unromantic.
I like social and military history, so getting a firsthand account of an aviator's life just as military aviation began to develop was right up my alley.
As the book is written in the first person, having it narrated made it feel more like Rickenbacker was telling his story to me personally. The narration is competent and unremarkable, which is probably a good thing with a book like this; the narrator has no quirks that detract from the story.
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