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New Review: The Lafayette Escadrille

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Review Author: 
Dick Montgomery
Casemate Publishers

Being an aficionado of the history of the aircraft and persons involved in aviation during World War I, this book became a "must have" after reading some of the reviews describing the book. I must say that I was not disappointed in any way, and in fact found this "photo history of the Lafayette Escadrille" one of the most compelling "reads" I've experienced in many a year.

The story of The Lafayette Escadrille is laid out in photos, quotes from letters written by the pilots, and historical records of the time. The author spent a year travelling to universities and museums, as well as the actual geographic locations described in great detail in the documentation uncovered during the research phase for the book. The author captured images of some of the buildings frequented by the men of the Lafayette Escadrille and the comparison of historical images and the modern images taken by Ruffin are remarkable. 

The text reveals that all was not "civilite' and "camaraderie" within this group of aviators, and that resentments toward each other and toward their French "commandant d'escadron" were not only present but obvious to the men involved. The personalities and possible motivations of those who sought to join the "Escadrille" are covered in dramatic and personal detail as are the fates for each of the aviators. The air war was brutal and bloody, as well as a platform for gallantry and honor. The text, often supported by excellent black and white images, help to bring the story of these young men and their machines to life.

The paperback version (the version being reviewed) is 194 pages in length with appendices, a list of archival sources, a bibliography, and an excellent index.

Table of Contents
Foreword
Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction
Prologue
1 A n All-American Idea Takes Shape
2 The Escadrille Americaine Is Born
3 First Blood
4 Into the Grinder
5 Season of Discontent
6 The Battle Continues
7 The Best and the Bravest
8 Misery in the Somme
9 Mac Goes West
10 The Heartbreak of Ham
11 Chaudun and Beyond
12 Hard Times at Senard
13 From Falcons of France to American Eagles
14 Aftermath
Epilogue
Appendices
Selected Bibliography
Archival Sources
Museums
Index

I can say, without equivocation, that this publication is the most thorough and detailed historical narrative of the Lafayette Escadrille that I have had the opportunity to study and read. This book is highly recommended due to the excellent maps, large number of stunning black and white images, and detailed coverage of the subject. Thanks to Casemate for providing this copy for review by IPMS. 

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