Archive for the ‘World war one’ Category

This evening’s recommended Weekend Reading is timely in light of Memorial Day.

The Unsubstantial Air

Samuel Hynes. The Unsubstantial Air: American Fliers in the First World War.  New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books, October 21st, 2014. 336 pp.

This is the story of the young Americans who flew in World War one and is written by a former US pilot of World War Two.  I think the author’s background contributed to the insight of bringing out the experiences of the young Americans who ventured into military aviation.  At that time, aviation was a new area of military combat.  The book spent considerable time capturing the romanticism of various young Americans who wanted to be combat pilots.  As those familiar with World War One know, the United States didn’t enter the war until the last year.  Even before the US entrance into the war there were already a steady stream of Americans venturing overseas to seek the experience of war or helping out the Allies with the war.  Many went over to France seeking adventure as ambulance drivers, members of the Foreign Legion, etc.  However some Americans wanted more and some of these wanted to be military pilots for the French and British.  Much of the bulk of the book focuses on these Americans.  Actually much of the book focuses on trying to be a pilot, the training and only towards the second half of the book do we read of combat and missions in the front.



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Catastrophe 1914 Max Hastings

Max Hastings. Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War.  New York, NY: Knopf, September 24th, 2013. 672 pp.

This is a massive work on the work up to World War One and the first year of the war, authored by a famous military historian named Max Hastings.  Earlier I have read the book Guns of August before I started listening to this audio book.  I was interested in this work after hearing it referenced several times during different episodes from the Youtube channel on the Great War, which gives a weekly account of the war a hundred year ago.  I figured it was worthwhile given how it’s a resource for the producers.


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Besides spiritual readings, I typically take some time to read in other areas as a mental break from ministry.  Here’s this weekend’s leisure reading review.

The Guns of August

Barbara W. Tuchman. The Guns of August.  New York, NY: Presidio Press, August 3rd, 2004. 640 pp.

Ever since the 100 years anniversary of World War One in 2014, I’ve been fascinated with the history of this war especially with the origins of the war and what went on during the early months of the conflict.  This work satisfied my curiosities and met my expectations.  I must add a word of caution here that this is my first book I have picked up on World War One (currently I’m going through my second by the popular historian Max Hastings).

In the Author’s note Barbara Tuchman tells the story of how the book came to be written and how she originally wanted to write about a story of a particular naval ship while the publishers wanted her to write on something else and the result of that compromise was this book.  I’m so glad in the end she did write this book, The Guns of August as I think it had a more lasting legacy and impact than if she wrote her original story.  Even after fifty years since she penned this book, it is still popular.


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