• Terror of the Autumn Skies

  • The True Story of Frank Luke, America's Rogue Ace of World War I
  • By: Blaine Pardoe
  • Narrated by: John McLain
  • Length: 9 hrs and 26 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (154 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Frank Luke, Jr., was an unlikely pilot. In the Great War, when fliers were still "knights of the air", Luke was an ungallant loner, a kid from Arizona who collected tarantulas, shot buzzards, and boxed miners. But during two torrid weeks in September 1918, he was the deadliest man on the Western Front. In only 10 missions, he destroyed 14 heavily defended German balloons and four airplanes, a rampage unequalled even by the dreaded von Richtofen, and the second highest American tally of the entire war. Cocksure and constantly reprimanded, Luke was actually under arrest on the day of his final flight, but he stole a plane to join the fatal action that won him the first Congressional Medal of Honor awarded to a pilot.

Blaine Pardoe retraces and refreshes Frank Luke's story through recently discovered correspondence. What emerges is a portrait of a life out of an "Old West" that was, by the late Teens, colliding with modernity. Frantic, short, and splendid, the life of Frank Luke, Jr. dramatizes the tragic intervention of an American spirit in the war that devastated Europe.

©2011 Blaine L. Pardoe (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about Terror of the Autumn Skies

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Terror of the Autumn skies

Very well researched, I like all the facts the back ground of Luke's strengths and weaknesses and his single mindedness to finish what he started to do.

1 person found this helpful

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  • JS
  • 05-02-22

Good story. Reader is just ok.

Excellent historical research & accuracy. This is tempered, however, by the mechanical & almost computer-like voice of the reader. He also repeatedly mispronounced many words. The Meuse River, for example, is constantly referred to as the “Moose River.”

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solid listen

narrator sounds like Steve Blum, and author seems to take historical inaccuracies as an insult, which is nice

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Welll written and researched.

A good book, it is well written and researched. as is often the case with historical figures the facts can be a bit fuzzy and multiple different renditions of the same events exist. This book seems an honest and engaging effort to make more clear the life of one of America's top aces of the Great War. The narration was well done also.

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    4 out of 5 stars

Learn about balloon busting and an unknown ace

I'm a lot more familiar with Blaine Lee Pardoe for his excellent MechWarrior far-future works, so I was surprised to find a historical WWI non-fiction book by him. His writing is excellent, as usual.

This is the tale of Frank Luke, who was definitely a loner (I would say reckless), who had a brief but vivacious (see the prior comment on reckless) career as a pilot with the WWI USAF.

Others have commented that such loners usually get themselves and/or their wingmen killed. And yes, he would just fly away from his squadron and look for opponents. I guess that I much prefer that to getting wingmen into trouble. I didn't find it clear whether the two wingmen that he lost were due to his actions, or their own.

Due to his short career, there is a tremendous amount of detail, often with 331 details on peripheral aspects of the story, But... maybe these help us discover previously unknown aspects of life in the WWI military, so perhaps it's worthwhile in the end.

The biggest "new piece of information" for me was about balloon-busting, which I had always assumed was fairly easy, but I hadn't realized the significant FlaK batteries around each one. Oh... right. Good point.

Also some of the interactions with other US WWI pilots, like Eddie Rickenbacker, were interesting.

The narration was Ok. But I find it unprofessional when narrators don't ask for advice on how to pronounce the European location names. Hence, we have the famous Mousse river, with the Mousse-Argonne campaign, the Verd'n campaign, and the town of Noon-Guesser (really, I have no idea what he was trying to say). Not to mention the implacable enemy, the Boosch. (I mean, seriously, can't narrators ask their agent to set up a 10 minute phone call ahead of time?)




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good historical read

gave a good picture of the life and character of Frank Luke Jr. enjoyed it.

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History

Lone Wolves usually get themselves or their friends killed. Are they brave or foolish. The people that disobey orders get to be infamous at others expense. You can decide.

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Very good but not totally outstanding

Well researched and well presented. I liked the book and it was worth the cost, but I cannot say it was over the top like some of the books I have listened to.

1 person found this helpful

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Really good insight

Really great history of Luke... enjoyed it alot.i highly recommend this book to any one.

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It's only boastful if you can't do it...

The story of Frank Luke is that of Knights of old, with the adventure of early aviation as the backdrop. Excellently researched and a story brought forward of Luke's lone wolf style and his well noted flaunt to authority. Know as a braggart of sorts, the fact remains that he did exactly the things he said he would do. The narration of John McLain was dry and uninspiring until he quoted a direct quote from a letter, and became more like a character telling a story. Several times I wanted to quit listening and just read the book. The author spent an great amount of effort and time during and in the afterward of the story to make sure the reader, or listener in this case, knew from his perspective that his (the authors) research and work was the most definitive, and should in fact be the only version would could intelligently consider in the life of Frank Luke. Seemed a little boastful to me!

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  • GC
  • 01-23-22

An Enlightening WW1 biography

Accounts of WW1 air combatants tend to be consigned to a few National Aces interspersed with few other recognised accomplished Allied airmen. Thus I was fully engrossed in this detailed account of a fearless young American gladiator of the skies when the very ability to get aloft and remain there without the added danger of enemy actions was truly impressive. A well collated and well delivered biography of an otherwise lost character. Recommended.