Review: The White Queen (The Cousins’ War #1) ~ Philippa Gregory

The white QueenBrother turns on brother to win the ultimate prize, the throne of England, in this dazzling account of the wars of the Plantagenets. They are the claimants and kings who ruled England before the Tudors, and now Philippa Gregory brings them to life through the dramatic and intimate stories of the secret players: the indomitable women, starting with Elizabeth Woodville, the White Queen.

The White Queen tells the story of a woman of extraordinary beauty and ambition who, catching the eye of the newly crowned boy king, marries him in secret and ascends to royalty. While Elizabeth rises to the demands of her exalted position and fights for the success of her family, her two sons become central figures in a mystery that has confounded historians for centuries: the missing princes in the Tower of London whose fate is still unknown. From her uniquely qualified perspective, Philippa Gregory explores this most famous unsolved mystery of English history, informed by impeccable research and framed by her inimitable storytelling skills.

With The White Queen, Philippa Gregory brings the artistry and intellect of a master writer and storyteller to a new era in history and begins what is sure to be another bestselling classic series from this beloved author.

1 Thumbs-UpAs with anything to do with the War of the Roses research, and in-depth good research has to be a key to writing a riveting book.  Regardless of personal feelings the aim is to create a piece of fiction that supporters of both Houses will enjoy, unfortunately this was not the case this with book or series.  Yes, despite not liking this book one bit, I gave it the benefit of the doubt and read the whole lot of them.  What a waste of time and a big disappointment for me.

As with most written works on this time period, there are many different ways the story can be related, and from many different points of view; be it that from a purely Lancastrian bent or from the idealised House of York side, this Author threw all this out of the window and took a route that was so unbelievable it almost made me think that, despite the main characters being based in history this could easily have been a fantasy novel.

This neatly brings me onto the issue of characters.  With so much material available to a good researcher, the way in which this Author treats her characters is an insult to them and the period of time they inhabited.  The central character and the person who the title surrounds, it depicted as a witch.  What more can I say, not much really.  Anything and everything bad that befalls those around her is attributed to witchcraft from the first meeting with Edward IV right up to the withering of Richard III sword arm.  At every opportunity this woman bleats on about the death of her Father and Brother so much that I found myself at yet another bemoaning of this event telling her to move on, it’s the times you live in, everyone suffered during the war of the Roses.   It wasn’t Elizabeth of Woodville that I disliked, love her or hate her she is historically portrayed as a strong and opinionated woman for her time, definitely a force to be reckoned with especially when the reader considers that she managed to remain as Queen through some very turbulent times; what I disliked was I felt the Author took the easy way out when writing about her, it’s a lot easier to run with the same old witchcraft guff than develop a true to life character.  I could go into in-depth detail about the mistreatment of her other characters too, but that would take me almost as long to write this review, if not longer, than it did for the Author to write the book.  What I will say though is Margaret Beaufort, really?  The Author needs to be grateful that these people are not around to read her depiction of them.

When it comes to the rest of the book, either this part was missing in mine or the Author chose to ignore a definite historical fact, what happened to Middleham Castle where Anne and Richard spent a great deal of time and where their son was born?  Why does the Author have them constantly hanging out at Warwick Castle?  This is the main reason that this book received the 1 thumb review it has, the facts were either just not there or extremely loosely adapted for the book.

I can’t, with a clear conscience recommend this book to anyone, and I have a suspicion diehard fans of this Author may have a hard time liking this, amnd defintiely not like the review I have just written.  However, if you do enjoy reading about this period of time, and especially about the House of York (I wrote my Masters dissertation on them) I would highly recommend Sharon Kay Penman’s The Sunne in Splendour as it relies more on history and has some very strong characters.

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American Boys, Hello! ~ Ella Wheeler Wilcox

 captain-america

American Boys, Hello!

Oh! we love all the French, and we speak in French
As along through France we go.
But the moments to us that are keen and sweet
Are the ones when our khaki boys we meet,
Stalwart and handsome and trim and neat;
And we call to them—‘Boys, hello!’
‘Hello, American boys,
Luck to you, and life’s best joys!
American boys, hello!’

We couldn’t do that if we were at home—
It never would do, you know!
For there you must wait till you’re told who’s who,
And to meet in the way that nice folks do.
Though you knew his name, and your name he knew—
You never would say ‘Hello, hello, American boy!’
But here it’s just a joy,
As we pass along in the stranger throng,
To call out, ‘Boys, hello!’

For each is a brother away from home;
And this we are sure is so,
There’s a lonesome spot in his heart somewhere,
And we want him to feel there are friends
right there

In this foreign land, and so we dare
To call out ‘Boys, hello!’
‘Hello, American boys,
Luck to you, and life’s best joys!
American boys, hello!’

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Review: The Quick ~ Lauren Owen

the quickLondon, 1892: James Norbury, a shy would-be poet newly down from Oxford, finds lodging with a charming young aristocrat. Through this new friendship, he is introduced to the drawing-rooms of high society, and finds love in an unexpected quarter. Then, suddenly, he vanishes without a trace. Unnerved, his sister, Charlotte, sets out from their crumbling country estate determined to find him. In the sinister, labyrinthine city that greets her, she uncovers a secret world at the margins populated by unforgettable characters: a female rope walker turned vigilante, a street urchin with a deadly secret, and the chilling “Doctor Knife.” But the answer to her brother’s disappearance ultimately lies within the doors of one of the country’s preeminent and mysterious institutions: The Aegolius Club, whose members include the most ambitious, and most dangerous, men in England.

5 Thumbs-UpSo, what can I say about this book?  Three things really, a) it is a debut novel for this Author b) I really didn’t see that coming and c) Noooooo!!!

I found this book by chance on a rummage through my local lending library the other day, and was intrigued both by the cover and the synopsis, so home with me it came and I’m glad I took a chance on something so unknown to me.  If other readers have already heard of this novel they may think I live under some rock and rarely venture out; that is not the case, I never read reviews on books and choose them purely on their own merit when out and about and this was the case with this one.

From a character point of view they are plentiful in this novel, and they are morose, they are arrogant; you may love them or you may hate them, but each of them will bring about a reaction in the reader of some description.  In my opinion it was hard to pinpoint one main character in the whole of this novel, as so many come and take centre stage in a way that will impact all those around them; and once they step away from the limelight they do not fade out of the plotline entirely as many Authors have their lesser characters doing.  Despite the time period in which this novel was set, there was one particular character I really connected with and I was rooting for her every time she appeared in the story; there were also others that no matter how hard I tried I could not find anything redeeming in their character and found myself chuckling when rough things happened to them.

Because of the way in which this book is written it is hard to write an in-depth review without giving away the plot.  It is written from a multi-perspective point of view , as each character comes to the front and also includes journal entries; all the good stuff that combine together to make an exceptional Victorian gothic novel.  It is very apparent from the way in which the Author addresses class issues and gender expectations that they have done an extensive amount of research into this period of history; the shock one woman expresses at seeing another wearing trousers is a good example.  The location descriptions are the best I have read in a long time, and in this area put me in mind of Dickens and Conan-Doyle in the way the Author uses the surroundings to propel the storyline along.  The grandeur of some buildings is, in the next paragraph startling contrasted against the poorer areas of London; along with smells and attire I could almost feel I was back in this time with the characters.

This is a moody, dark and gritty novel which really doesn’t show London at its best, but this is what adds to the novel.  There is no sugar coating of the privations some suffered and the excesses others enjoyed.  Because of its abrupt ending however, I am hoping that this may be the start of a series, one that I will definitely be following.  If not, and the Author decided to leave the reader with a cliff-hanger, I don’t really mind as I will definitely be reading this Author again.

I would highly recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction, and those who enjoy a good gothic novel.  Also those who enjoy Victorian crime fiction may find this to their liking.

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Vive la révolution!

 

bastille-day-450x3372

Today is Bastille Day, or as the French call it, la Fête Nationale or le quatorze juillet, the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789, the flashpoint of the French Revolution that symbolizes the birth of the modern nation. So basically the French version of the fourth of July, only slightly bloodier and with more presidential garden parties. In honour of the French’s national holiday, I’ve put together a list of three French novels that will get anyone in the spirit.

ptitprinceTitle – Le Petit Prince
Author – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
ISBN 13– 978-0156013987
Pub Date – September 4, 2001 (first published 1940)
Publisher – Harcourt, Inc.; French language edition

Description – Moral allegory and spiritual autobiography, The Little Prince is the most translated book in the French language. With a timeless charm it tells the story of a little boy who leaves the safety of his own tiny planet to travel the universe, learning the vagaries of adult behaviour through a series of extraordinary encounters. His personal odyssey culminates in a voyage to Earth and further adventures.  Seeing as it’s the most read and most translated book in the French language, not to mention one of the best-selling books of all time, you’ve probably already read the gorgeous, absurdist, heartbreaking novella The Little Prince. But you should probably read it again.

musketeersTitle – The Three Musketeers
Author – Alexandre Dumas
ISBN 13– 978-0451530035
Pub Date – January 3rd 2006 (first published 1844)
Publisher – Signet Classics

Description – One of the most celebrated & popular historical romances ever written. The Three Musketeers tell the story of the early adventures of the young Gascon gentleman d’Artagnan & his three friends from the regiment of the King’s Musketeers-Athos, Porthos & Aramis.

Under the watchful eye of their patron M. de Treville, the four defend the honour of the regiment against the guards of the Cardinal Richelieu, & the honor of the queen against the machinations of the Cardinal himself as the power struggles of 17th-century France are vividly played out in the background.

But their most dangerous encounter is with the Cardinal’s spy. Milady, one of literature’s most memorable female villains, & Alexandre Dumas employs all his fast-paced narrative skills to bring this enthralling novel to a breathtakingly gripping & dramatic conclusion

gigiTitle – Gigi
Author – Colette
ISBN 13– 978-2253109341
Pub Date – June 1st, 2004 (first published 1942)
Publisher – Livre de Poche

Description – A story of burgeoning womanhood and blossoming love, Colette’s masterpiece reveals the author’s grasp of the politics of relationships. With music, drama, and the charm of French-inflected English, this unabridged novella follows Gigi’s training as a courtesan. Leslie Caron, the star of the best-loved film based on Gigi brings to life the Paris of 1899 in all its sensuous detail.

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Review: The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History ~ Robert M. Edsel, Bret Witter (Contributor)

The Monuments MenAt the same time Adolf Hitler was attempting to take over the western world, his armies were methodically seeking and hoarding the finest art treasures in Europe. The Fuehrer had begun cataloguing the art he planned to collect as well as the art he would destroy: “degenerate” works he despised.
In a race against time, behind enemy lines, often unarmed, a special force of American and British museum directors, curators, art historians, and others, called the Monuments Men, risked their lives scouring Europe to prevent the destruction of thousands of years of culture.  Focusing on the eleven-month period between D-Day and V-E Day, this fascinating account follows six Monuments Men and their impossible mission to save the world’s great art from the Nazis.

3 Thumbs-UpUnusually for me and this genre of book, we had a love hate relationship.  I have previously read other works on this topic and found them to be engrossing and insisting I keep reading them until the end to discover the next piece in the puzzle; this particular one did not have that hook that pulled me all the way in, and is one of the reasons for the three thumbs review.

The story told within the pages of this book is that of a little known group who can be credited with our being able to view works by some of the greatest Artists in the world that, without their existence may have been lost for all time.  Their story is an interesting and important one as it follows them from the inception of the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives to the end of the war.  It documents in great detail the hardships they encountered, and the stonewalling or disinterest shown in their mission by others they met whilst often working on the edge of the battle lines; they actually lost two of their unit through combat related deaths.  Despite this, they regrouped and continued on with the mission at hand, hunting out information and pouring over myriads of records, which in the case of the Paris cultural treasures had been scrupulously kept by a Frenchwoman Rose Valland.  But again, despite this being a fascinating story it was also a frustrating story.

Despite being forewarned in the Author’s Note that some liberties were taken in the creation of the dialogue to help with the continuity of the book, it came across at times that he had taken too many liberties which tended to give this historical account the feel that it was being pulled, kicking and screaming, into the realms of historical fiction; not a place I wanted to be taken when reading this, as there a several great fiction works on this topic out there I have already read.  This created dialogue also took up far too much of the book, and I feel a greater impact would have been achieved if they had been pared down somewhat by a skilled editor, putting the focus firmly back on the purpose and discoveries of the MFAA.  The saving grace in this book, for me, were all the hidden nuggets of information that were buried deeply underneath the unnecessary ‘chatter’.  When taken from a purely historical point of view, this book is well researched and very educational and, combined with pictures taken from the actual time and events mentioned, it could have been something truly exceptional.

Anyone interested in this era in history may enjoy this book; if they can get past the obvious attempts in include a fictional aspect to events.

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10 Worthwhile Indie Reads for May

All the light we cannot seeTitle ~ All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel
Author ~ Anthony Doerr
ISBN ~ 9781476746586
Publisher ~ Scribner

Description – Marie Laure lives with her father in Paris within walking distance of the Museum of Natural History where he works as the master of the locks (there are thousands of locks in the museum). When she is six, she goes blind, and her father builds her a model of their neighborhood, every house, every manhole, so she can memorize it with her fingers and navigate the real streets with her feet and cane. When the Germans occupy Paris, father and daughter flee to Saint-Malo on the Brittany coast, where Marie-Laure’s agoraphobic great uncle lives in a tall, narrow house by the sea wall.

In another world in Germany, an orphan boy, Werner, grows up with his younger sister, Jutta, both enchanted by a crude radio Werner finds. He becomes a master at building and fixing radios, a talent that wins him a place at an elite and brutal military academy and, ultimately, makes him a highly specialized tracker of the Resistance. Werner travels through the heart of Hitler Youth to the far-flung outskirts of Russia, and finally into Saint-Malo, where his path converges with Marie-Laure.

 

Natchez BurningTitle ~ Natchez Burning: A Novel
Author ~ Greg Iles
ISBN ~ 9780062311078
Publisher ~ William Morrow

Description ~ #1 New York Times bestselling novelist Greg Iles returns with his most eagerly anticipated book yet, and his first in five years – Natchez Burning, the first installment in an epic trilogy that weaves crimes, lies, and secret past and present into a mesmerizing thriller featuring Southern mayor and former prosecutor Penn Cage.

 

the steady runningTitle ~ The Steady Running of the Hour: A Novel
Author ~ Justin Go
ISBN ~ 9781476704586
Publisher ~ Simon & Schuster

Description ~ In this mesmerizing debut, a young American discovers he may be heir to the unclaimed estate of an English World War I officer, which launches him on a quest across Europe to uncover the elusive truth.

Just after graduating college, Tristan Campbell receives a letter delivered by special courier to his apartment in San Francisco. It contains the phone number of a Mr. J.F. Prichard of Twyning Hooper, Solicitors, in London and news that could change Tristan’s life forever.

In 1924, Prichard explains, an English alpinist named Ashley Walsingham died attempting to summit Mt. Everest, leaving his fortune to his former lover, Imogen Soames-Andersson. But the estate was never claimed. Information has recently surfaced suggesting Tristan may be the rightful heir, but unless he can find documented evidence, the fortune will be divided among charitable beneficiaries in less than two months.

In a breathless race from London archives to Somme battlefields to the Eastfjords of Iceland, Tristan pieces together the story of a forbidden affair set against the tumult of the First World War and the pioneer British expeditions to Mt. Everest. Following his instincts through a maze of frenzied research, Tristan soon becomes obsessed with the tragic lovers, and he crosses paths with a mysterious French girl named Mireille who suggests there is more to his quest than he realizes. Tristan must prove that he is related to Imogen to inherit Ashley’s fortune but the more he learns about the couple, the stranger his journey becomes.

 

OrendaTitle ~ The Orenda: A Novel
Author ~ Joseph Boyden
ISBN ~ 9780385350730
Publisher ~ Knopf

Description ~ A visceral portrait of life at a crossroads, The Orenda opens with a brutal massacre and the kidnapping of the young Iroquois Snow Falls, a spirited girl with a special gift. Her captor, Bird, is an elder and one of the Huron Nation’s great warriors and statesmen. It has been years since the murder of his family and yet they are never far from his mind. In Snow Falls, Bird recognizes the ghost of his lost daughter and sees the girl possesses powerful magic that will be useful to him on the troubled road ahead. Bird’s people have battled the Iroquois for as long as he can remember, but both tribes now face a new, more dangerous threat from afar.

Christophe, a charismatic Jesuit missionary, has found his calling amongst the Huron and devotes himself to learning and understanding their customs and language in order to lead them to Christ. An emissary from distant lands, he brings much more than his faith to the new world.

As these three souls dance each other through intricately woven acts of duplicity, small battles erupt into bigger wars and a nation emerges from worlds in flux.

 

The serpent of veniceTitle ~ The Serpent of Venice: A Novel
Author ~ Christopher Moore
ISBN ~ 9780061779763
Publisher ~ William Morrow

Description ~ Venice, a long time ago. Three prominent Venetians await their most loathsome and foul dinner guest, the erstwhile envoy of Britain and France, and widower of the murdered Queen Cordelia: the rascal-Fool Pocket.

This trio of cunning plotters-the merchant, Antonio; the senator, Montressor Brabantio; and the naval officer, Iago-have lured Pocket to a dark dungeon, promising an evening of sprits and debauchery with a rare Amontillado sherry and Brabantio’s beautiful daughter, Portia.

But their invitation is, of course, bogus. The wine is drugged. The girl isn’t even in the city limits. Desperate to rid themselves once and for all of the man who has consistently foiled their grand quest for power and wealth, they have lured him to his death. (How can such a small man, be such a huge obstacle?). But this Fool is no fool . . . and he’s got more than a few tricks (and hand gestures) up his sleeve.

 

RubyTitle ~ Ruby: A Novel
Author ~ Cynthia Bond
ISBN ~ 9780804139090
Publisher ~ Hogarth

Description ~ Ephram Jennings has never forgotten the beautiful girl with the long braids running through the piney woods of Liberty, their small East Texas town. Young Ruby, “the kind of pretty it hurt to look at,” has suffered beyond imagining, so as soon as she can, she flees suffocating Liberty for the bright pull of 1950s New York. Ruby quickly winds her way into the ripe center of the city–the darkened piano bars and hidden alleyways of the Village–all the while hoping for a glimpse of the red hair and green eyes of her mother. When a telegram from her cousin forces her to return home, thirty-year-old Ruby Bell finds herself reliving the devastating violence of her girlhood. With the terrifying realization that she might not be strong enough to fight her way back out again, Ruby struggles to survive her memories of the town’s dark past. Meanwhile, Ephram must choose between loyalty to the sister who raised him and the chance for a life with the woman he has loved since he was a boy.

 

TroikaTitle ~ Troika: A Novel
Author ~ Adam Pelzman
ISBN ~ 9780399167485
Publisher ~ Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam

Description ~ Perla is a beautiful young Cuban-American woman who lives with her mother in a modest house in Miami’s Little Havana. After her father’s death, she finds herself leading a secret life.
Julian is from Russia. His father was a legendary Siberian hunter who fell victim to his own bravery. When Julian is forced into an orphanage, he discovers that he has more in common with his father than he originally thought. Taken under the wing of a gruff, elderly businessman, Julian makes his way to New York City . . . and, years later, into the club where Perla is dancing. Soon after they meet, Perla is on a plane to Manhattan at the mysterious request of Julian’s friend—a journey that will change the course of her life.

 

WonderlandTitle ~ Wonderland: A Novel
Author ~ Stacey D’Erasmo
ISBN ~ 9780544074811
Publisher ~ Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Description~ Anna Brundage is a rock star. She is tall and sexy, with a powerhouse voice and an unforgettable mane of red hair. She came out of nowhere, an immediate indie sensation. And then, life happened.Anna went down as fast as she went up, and then walked off the scene for seven years. Without a record deal or clamoring fans, she sells a piece of her famous father’s art to finance just one more album and a European comeback tour.

Anna is forty-four. This may be her last chance to cement her place in the life she chose, the life she struggled for, the life she’s not sure she can sustain. She falls back easily into the ways of the road—sex with strangers, the search for the perfect moment onstage. To see Anna perform is something—watch her find the note, the electric connection with the audience, the transcendence when it all comes together and the music seems to fill the world.

 

All the birds singingTitle ~ All the Birds, Singing: A Novel
Author ~ Evie Wyld
ISBN ~ 9780307907769
Publisher ~ Pantheon

Description ~ Jake Whyte is living on her own in an old farmhouse on a craggy British island, a place of ceaseless rains and battering winds. Her disobedient collie, Dog, and a flock of sheep are her sole companions, which is how she wanted it to be. But every few nights something—or someone—picks off one of the sheep and sets off a new deep pulse of terror. There are foxes in the woods, a strange boy and a strange man, rumors of an obscure, formidable beast. But there is also Jake’s past—hidden thousands of miles away and years ago, held in the silences about her family and the scars that stripe her back—a past that threatens to break into the present. With exceptional artistry and empathy, All the Birds, Singing reveals an isolated life in all its struggles and stubborn hopes, unexpected beauty, and hard-won redemption.

 

LoversTitle ~ Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932: A Novel
Author ~ Francine Prose
ISBN ~ 9780061713781
Publisher ~ Harper

Description ~ A richly imagined and stunningly inventive literary masterpiece of love, art, and betrayal, set in Paris from the late 1920s into the dark years of World War II, that explores the genesis of evil, the unforeseen consequences of love, and the ultimate unreliability of storytelling itself

Emerging from the austerity and deprivation of the Great War, Paris in the 1920s shimmers with excitement, dissipation, and freedom. It is a place of intoxicating ambition, passion, art, and discontent, where louche jazz venues like the Chameleon Club draw expats, artists, libertines, and parvenus looking to indulge their true selves. It is at the Chameleon where the striking Lou Villars, an extraordinary athlete and scandalous cross-dressing lesbian, finds refuge among the club’s loyal patrons, including rising Hungarian photographer Gabor Tsenyi, socialite and art patron Baroness Lily de Rossignol; and caustic American writer Lionel Maine.

As the years pass, their fortunes-and the world itself-evolve. Lou falls desperately in love and finds success as a racecar driver. Gabor builds his reputation with startlingly vivid and imaginative photographs, including a haunting portrait of Lou and her lover, which will resonate through all their lives. As the exuberant 20s give way to the Depression of the 30s, Lou experiences another metamorphosis-sparked by tumultuous events-that will warp her earnest desire for love and approval into something far more sinister: collaboration with the Nazis.

Told in a kaleidoscope of voices that circle around the dark star of Lou Villars, Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932 evokes this incandescent city with brio, humor, and intimacy. Exploring a turbulent time defined by terror, bravery, and difficult moral choices, it raises critical questions about truth and memory and the nature of storytelling itself.

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Review: To the Last Man: A Novel of the First World War ~ Jeff Shaara

To the last manMoving on from the American Revolution and the Civil War, Shaara (The Glorious Cause, etc.) delivers an epic account of the American experience in WWI. As usual, he narrates from the perspective of actual historical figures, moving from the complexity of high-level politics and diplomacy to the romance of the air fight and the horrors of trench warfare. Gen. John J. “Black Jack” Pershing commands all American forces in France in 1917-1918 and must prepare his army for a new kind of war while resisting French and British efforts to absorb his troops into their depleted, worn-out units. Two aviators, American Raoul Lufbery and German Manfred von Richthofen (the Red Baron) fly primitive aircraft in an air war that introduces new ways to die. And Pvt. Roscoe Temple, U.S. Marine Corps, fights with rifle and bayonet in the mud and blood of Belleau Wood and the Argonne Forest. These men and a supporting cast of other real-life characters provide a gruesomely graphic portrayal of the brutality and folly of total war.

4 Thumbs-UpThis Author is well-known for writing historical novels, and they have continued in that vein when writing this book which centres on the often forgotten war that was supposed to be ‘the war to end all wars’.

Essentially this novel is two books in one, which can then be divided into three parts. The first 1/3 of the book focuses almost exclusively on the air war taking place at that time, with the main protagonist for this section being the notorious Red Baron, Manfred von Richthofen and the French-born American ace, Raoul Lufberry. Both these characters are brought vividly to life allowing the reader to build on what knowledge they may already have of these larger than life fighter aces.  Through the Authors words we are given a look at what may have been the driving forces behind them being as successful as they were, and also at the same time brought to the realisation that, in the end they were just human like everyone else involved in this conflict.

The middle 1/3 of the book, the reader is introduced to Gen. Pershing and a young marine private named Roscoe Templer, which begins the second book where the first leaves off with the deaths of Richthofen and Lufberry. Through the eyes of the Private, the reader sees the horrors of trench warfare from a ‘boots on the ground’ perspective; this resulted in me wondering why this truly hadn’t been a catalyst to end war.

The final 1/3 of the book focuses exclusively on the exploits and perils of the ground war.  Here the Author really comes into his own, showing his outstanding research skills and ability to translate history into a form many readers would find more palatable than actually doing the research themselves.  Through the Authors words the reader is transported to the water filled hovels that the ground troops called home; they can smell the death and decay that permeates the air and everything around these soldiers.  The reader is able to feel the sheer terror that they must have experienced when waiting for the whistle to blow that would signal them going over the top to an almost certain death.  But this descriptive skill is not just limited to those on the ground, the Author extends this to the flying aces in their flimsy fabric coated aeroplanes and the knowledge they also carried with them on a daily basis that this time might just be their last in the air.

Throughout this book, whether you are reading about the regular Soldiers and Pilots, or the Officers back in the rear you will be affected by this war in a way that may come a little way to the feelings of those who experienced it both at home and in France.

Whether you are a novice or a World War I aficionado, I would highly recommend this book, and if you have never read anything by this Author this is a great place to start.

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