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Search tags: World-War-I
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review 2017-09-18 04:51
TRACING THE LIFE ARC OF AN HONEST, FORTHRIGHT MAN IN WAR & PEACE
Camel Combat Ace: The Great War Flying Career of Edwin Swale CBE OBE DFC* - Barry M Marsden

"CAMEL COMBAT ACE" is a fine, well-written book about a singularly remarkable man, Edwin Swale. Hailing from a middle-class background in Northern England, Swale joined the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) in October 1917. He completed his flight and gunnery training by early March 1918. Shortly thereafter, he was shipped to France and was assigned to No. 10 Squadron, RNAS, which soon became caught up in trying to stem the German offensive. 

Later that spring, with the creation of the Royal Air Force (RAF) from the amalgamation of the RNAS and the Royal Flying Corps (RFC), No. 10 Squadron RNAS - now redesignated No. 210 Squadron RAF - was very active along the front. Swale was involved in a lot of dangerous, low level attack missions against German troops in the field and other military installations behind the lines. The book provides considerable detail on Swale's combat service, which - aside from one spell of leave in Britain - lasted through October 1918, by which time he had shot down 17 German planes in aerial combat, survived a number of close calls, and had been promoted to Captain and placed in command of a flight of Sopwith Camels. 

After the war, Swale would marry, have a family, and assume responsibility for the family business. The book shows, with the insertion of some excerpts from Swale's autobiography, that he was a restless man with considerable energies and interests. With the outbreak of the Second World War, he rejoined the RAF and spent the war working in intelligence. 

This book was both interesting and easy to read. Plus it has lots of photos showing Swale (at various periods of his life) and his family.
 

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review 2017-09-17 03:37
'A LIFE WELL LIVED' = A NICE BOOK TO READ
A Life Well Lived - Ralph Sausmarez Carey

As stated on the back cover, "[t]his book is a wonderful compilation of memories, stories, letters, newspaper articles and" [photos] about the life of Ralph Sausmarez Carey (1898-1976). 

Carey, a Canadian from Winnipeg, joined the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) in November 1917 and received pilot training in Canada, the U.S., and Britain. He went on to serve as a fighter pilot in France with No. 73 Squadron, Royal Air Force (RAF), flying Sopwith Camel fighters over the Western Front in the latter stages of the First World War in 1918. Upon returning to Canada in May 1919, he studied at the University of Manitoba, where he earned a B.A. degree. He then went on to earn a law degree and briefly practiced law in the 1920s. 

The bulk of Carey's career would be with the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC), a major retail establishment where he worked his way into the upper ranks of management. Aside from his service with the Canadian Army as an administrative officer in Ottawa during the Second World War, he spent 36 years with HBC, retiring in 1965. 

What makes this book truly engaging to the reader are: a transcription of Carey's First World War experiences (which he had recorded on tape; his wife preserved it for their children); the personal recollections of Carey's children, former colleagues, relatives, and friends which bring a wider human dimension to the man that was Ralph Sausmarez Carey; and --- Chapter 5, which contains Carey's background and the backgrounds of his parents and siblings. 

All in all, "A LIFE WELL LIVED" is a nice book to read.
 

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review 2017-07-31 23:56
A Feel Good Read with Warm Fuzzies
A Name Unknown (Shadows Over England) - Roseanna M. White

Think of Downton Abbey with a very likable character who’s a tough cookie but yet can crumble like a marshmallow when it comes to matters of the heart. There’s an element of mystery, romance, and a feel good story all wrapped up in this book.

 

Now it make take a bit to get used to, but you do see a mini little sub plot in there where you’re dealing with Peter and his moments of creativity. At first it may seem confusing at first but it’s just Peter thinking aloud. Once you get used to the flow of the book you actually find that Peter’s own stories actually do sound rather interesting (would be nice for a spin off on those.)

 

Now. Aside from Peter’s creativity and a mini novel within a novel itself, there’s a mystery aspect and the romance aspect of the book. I rather wish there was more intrigue and mystery to the story because it certainly had the potential to it, but what’s really central to the story is in fact, the romance between our two main characters: Peter and Rosemary.

 

I love them both. They’re both opposites in a way, Rosemary is tough considering where she came from and loud and aggressive when push comes to shove. Peter on the other hand, is quiet, but has many strengths to him as well, he’s just more of the subtle more quiet type. Now this doesn’t mean that Rosemary overshadows Peter. In fact they both rather complement each other. They’re both strong characters, they just have different ways of expressing these strengths.

 

I also enjoyed Rosemary’s character development. One can certainly understand from her background, why she had particular beliefs and thoughts. As you progress throughout the novel however, you notice this changing and eventually although she was not a bad person to begin with, she does change her view of the world, which does enable her to not only love others but also love herself. This was by far, my favorite part of the book, watching Rosemary’s thinking change gradually as she sees Peter as not one of the typical high society.

 

It was a joy to read this book. For once, I actually preferred reading the romance aspect (I’m not a romance fan) instead of the mystery. All I wanted was to read about Peter and Rosemary and their chemistry come together. It certainly was a feel good fuzzy hugs type of novel.

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review 2017-06-16 14:45
A little dry but worth reading
Sunken Gold: A Story of World War I Espionage and the Greatest Treasure Salvage in History - Joseph A. Williams

Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley

 

                Joseph A Williams’ book isn’t so much a chronicle of a sinking, but a history of a salvage mission.  The best parts of the book are the ones that describe the development of diving technology.  It also illuminates a lesser known story about WWI.  The writing is a bit dry when moving beyond driving, but the use of background material does keep the reader interested.

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review 2017-06-13 15:40
The Summer Before the War
The Summer Before the War: A Novel - Helen Simonson

It is the summer of 1914, and Beatrice Nash, 23, finds herself in Rye, in Sussex, attempting desperately to get a job as a teacher at the local grammar school.  (As Latin mistress, of all things - very shocking for a female!)  She has fled her late father's family, wealthy but highly controlling, to try to make her own, independent life, and is not finding it easy.  For one thing, she's neither as old or as plain as they were expecting.

 

Down in Rye, she becomes involved in the lives of her sponsor there, Agatha Grange, Agatha's husband, John ("something at the Foreign Office"), and their two nephews, close as sons, Hugh Grange and Daniel Goodham.  Hugh is studying medicine, and Daniel has aspirations as a poet. 

 

When the war does break out, life becomes ever more complicated.  Young men start to join up.  There are panicked runs on food and other goods in the stores.  The mayor's wife is even more impossible than usual.  Young ladies of good breeding but little brain start handing out white feathers to young men not in uniform.  Poor harmless dachshunds are attacked.  And the town does its bit by taking in Belgian refugees.

 

There are four narrators - mostly Beatrice or Hugh, but occasionally also Agatha or "Snout," a boy in the village.  Simonson writes well, so it's not really an issue; it's always easy to tell them apart.

 

This novel is every bit as good as Simonson's first novel, Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, and a good historical novel.  (I don't recall seeing any historical detail that struck me as improbable or just wrong.)  A thoroughly enjoyable read - I dithered between 4 and 4 1/2 stars.

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