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Javito1986

OT: Derek Robinson

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Goshawk Squadron is one of my favorite books, which I read probably every few years or so. What do you all think of the author and his works? You don't have to limit it just to his WW1 aviation works, my personal favorite book of his is Piece of Cake, which just about single handedly had me playing Rowan's Battle of Britain for years.

 

Thoughts?

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So far, I have only read about real people and squadrons.

I had by accident bought a book about a German Fliegerstaffel, and only then realised that it was fictional.

I didn't read it. For me that doesn't work - I can't read fictional stories about war.

Strangely, I can watch them as films - like "Blue Max".

But sorry - you won't gain a new reader for Robinson's or anyone else's books with me, when they are fictional.

However good they may be written.

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I tend to agree with Olham.

 

There is more than enough good historical non-fiction to be read on any war-based theme without much if any need to resort to fiction, however well researched. I did read Len Deighton's 'Bomber' and not only found it a very absorbing read despite being fictional, but also thought it brought the characters to life in a way you only get in the very best non-fiction books - like Pierre Clostermann's 'The Big Show' which, especially in its complete edition, I think is much the best combat pilot memoir I've ever read or hope to read - not to be missed. The final chapter is truly tragic and very moving, in a bitter sort of way. It takes an exceptional piece of writing by someone like Clostermann - or Arthur Gould Lee, in his different way in 'No Parachute' and 'Open Cockpit' - to give history that extra layer or richness so I would not rule out reading historical fiction - there's just too much good non-fiction still to read.

 

Will one day make an exception for 'Winged Victory' because it was written by someone who was there and is perhaps more of a fictionalised account of VM Yates's actual experiences in WW1 air combat, but having leafed through a copy of 'Goshawk Squadron' I got the impression is was strong on a sort of modernised version of 'Dawn Patrol' angst, and rather short on air combat. Also make an exception for 'Biggles' too, a glossed-over 'Boys own' version of course but again written by someone who was there, at the time, and at the pointy end.

Edited by 33LIMA

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I read Goshawk Squadron and thought it was very good. Entertaining, dark humor and compelling. I am trying to get more of Mr. Robinson's work.

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I read Goshawk Squadron and thought it was very good. Entertaining, dark humor and compelling. I am trying to get more of Mr. Robinson's work.

 

If you enjoyed Goshaws Squadron, then I would recommend the 2 prequels to it, War Story set in 1916 and Hornets Nest set in 1917.

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I enjoy Derek Robinson's books. I find his characters to be humanly complex and well fleshed out given the limit of the pages he may devote to them. I do think though that he has rather too much of a 'bee in his his bonnet' with regard to exposing the sordidness of war.

 

Granted, there is absolutely nothing noble in killing a fellow man, but nevertheless war has been known to bring out the best in some people, just as it may bring out the worst. War is a terrible thing but not every aspect is so morally filthy as Robinson tends toward protraying. For me, his books have too little of the genuine humour (albeit sometimes black), love and cameraderie that one reads in the autobiogrphies of those who were there.

 

'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times' is the phrase that springs to mind and Robinson, I feel, has too much of the latter, unleavened by enough of the former.

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i've read so far Goshawk squadron and Piece of cake...found the latter much better ...but I must confess that i am absolutely haunted by Winged Victory: this could only have been written by a man who was actually there...a must read !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Edited by kaa

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So far, I have only read about real people and squadrons.

 

Hi

 

I read Goshawk Squadron about ten years ago, and I really liked it. :good:

 

I also prefer historical non-fictional books, but I don’t mind fictional novels if they are well written and seem credible.

 

I have hard to find any books about German pilots though, so I would be grateful for some advice both for fictional and non-fictional books!

 

Cheers

 

vonOben

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On German pilots in English, 'Wings of War' by Jasta 35b's Rudolph Stark is probably one of the best, aerodrome discussion here:

 

http://www.theaerodr...-you-think.html

 

Not a lot of technical detail (tho his description of the Pfalz DXII seems to crop up everywhere, so perhaps it's better than most) and covers 1918 only but pretty good.

 

If you don't mind the author's 1930s style, 'German War Birds' by 'Vigilant' (Claude Skyes) is a good series of affectionate pen pictures of German fliers in various theatres (Skyes translated my edition of 'Wings of War').

 

Everyone should have at least one von Richtofen book and if I had to have just one, I'd probably still pick 'Richthofen - the dramatic true story of the Red Baron' by William E Burrows. It doesn't have the day-by-day, kill-by-kill detail of Killduff's MvR books but more than makes up for that in sheer, draw-you-in readability. The account of the duel with Hawker and MvR's near-fatal shoot-down in July 1017, are effective little masterpieces of descriptive writing which put you in the cockpit. Next best would be Harleyford's 'Von Richthofen and the Flying Circus' by Nowarra and Brown, first published in 1958 but lots of excellent photos and decent line drawings of about every type of plane Jasta 2, Jasta 11 and JG1 ever flew.

 

Osprey's recent WW1 'Aircraft of the Aces and 'Duel' titles are also pretty good, some interesting accounts, great pics and excellent colour profiles.

Edited by 33LIMA

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.

 

vonOben, the works noted by 33LIMA are all very good, and I will add a few other personal narratives by German flyers that have been published in English. “An Airman Remembers”, by Hans Schröder and translated by Claude Sykes, (NOTE: this volume was recently reissued as “A German Airman Remembers). Also, the works of Haupt Heydemarck, to include “Double-Decker 666”, “War Flying in Macedonia”, and “Flying Section 17”. These were also translated into English by Mr. Sykes. I can recommend them all as excellent reads.

 

.

 

 

 

 

 

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Hi guys

 

Thanks a lot for those book recommendations! :good:

 

Any idea where to find those books?

 

Cheers

 

vonOben

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Three of Heydemarck's works are available at the Cross and Cockade online shop, starting here

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