Friday, March 22, 2013

eBook Review: Winged Victory

Victor M Yeates, Winged Victory

Product Details

  • File Size: 813 KB
  • Print Length: 465 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005FA3W8C
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars (3 customer reviews) 
  • Price: $8.99 
1. Short review:    (Amazon rating: 2 out of 5 stars -- I dislike it.)

2. Long review:
2.1. What I liked:  The accounts of combat flying. The book gave a perspective on Sopwith Dolphins that I had not seen before.
Roller-coaster or walk-in-the-park? Sometimes a roller coaster. Mostly a tedious afternoon listening to your great aunt rant about how terrible things are.

2.2. What I did not like: Yeates incessant rants against war, against its causes, and about how afraid he is. If you have ever seen Howard Hughes's Hell's Angels, you know it is 10 minutes of flying action prefaced by 2 hours of woe-is-me. Yeates does that same trick three times over.

2.3. Who I think is the audience: Air combat buffs. History buffs. Masochists.

2.4. Is the book appropriate for children to read? No. Nothing profane or obscene or lurid, but the main character spends his nights drinking himself into stupor.

2.5. On the basis of reading this book, will I buy the author's next book? No. Yeates wrote only this one book, but had he written another, I would not buy it.

2.6. The plot in a nutshell:
     There is no plot. Instead the book presents interminable rants from its hero -- Tom Crundall -- on the causes of war and their solution, the terrors of ground strafing, and Crundall's nightly drinking binges punctuated with commas of aerial combat.
2.7. Other:
     Victor Maslin Yeates began Winged Victory in 1933 when he was hospitalized for tuberculosis. He died the following year, the year Winged Victory was published. I want to believe it provided some money for his widow and children.
     VMY titled the work "Wingless Victor", but his publisher changed the title.
     I have read reports that RAF pilots in the Second World War read Winged Victory to discover better aerial combat tactics. If you compare Crundall's notes on the Sopwith Camel and the Sopwith Dolphin, you learn that it is better to be high and fast than low and slow. This is something the RAF fighter pilots did not learn in fighter school? Why did they not read von Richtofen's Der rote Kampfflieger or McCudden's Flying Fury or even Grinnell-Milne's Wind in the Wires? Any one of those books would give a pilot more information about flying combat and staying alive at it than Winged Victory.
     I refrained from blogging until I finished Winged Victory so that it would follow No Parachute in order. On reflection, that was a mistake.
     I am fond of First World War aviation history. It is rare for a book on that subject to get a negative review from me. VMY managed to do so.
     When VMY's alter ego Tom Crundall is in the air, the passages work; that is, they entertain and enlighten. But most of the time Crundall is on the ground agonizing about flying combat, scared witless, or blind drunk. He is an unattractive figure. I wanted him to get shot down to end my pain reading his rants.
     VMY flew with 46 Squadron, the same squadron as Arthur Gould Lee who wrote No Parachute.

     VMY crafted characters from his squadron mates. Tom Crundall was VMY but single; VMY was married when he went to war. The character Mac was obviously Donald MacLaren. I could not find a real-life figure for Williamson, Crundall's flight leader and tent-mate. VMY mentioned Debenham by name.  

     As of this writing, Amazon lists three reviews for Winged Victory: one five-star, one three-star, and one one-star. The five-star review is mostly about Henry Williamson, the man who wrote the forward for this edition. I doubt the reviewer, Terry Atwood, read the book at all.

     This book wasted my time. I recommend you read No Parachute instead. You will get the same message with more force and without the tedious whining of Victor Maslin Yeates.

2.8. Links:  Victor Maslin Yeates

2.9. Buy the book:  Winged Victory