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Fighting the Flying Circus: The Greatest True Air Adventure to Come out of World War I
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Fighting the Flying Circus: The Greatest True Air Adventure to Come out of World War I

4.15  ·  Rating Details ·  280 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
In Fighting the Flying Circus, Captain Rickenbacker recounts his combat missions against the Germans in the skies over Europe during WWI.
Paperback, 324 pages
Published September 4th 2001 by Doubleday (first published January 1919)
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Joseph
Apr 15, 2013 Joseph rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography, war
Eddie Rickenbacker an amazing pilot and a gifted story teller. His account as a member 94th Aero Squadron reads like a well written story rather than a dry history. He brings all aspects of the air war into play: the good and the bad.

The 94th started with members of the somewhat illegal Lafayette Escadrille coming under American control as President Wilson threw his hat into the ring. The hat in the ring would become the painted symbol on the side of the 94ths aircraft. America unprepared for w
...more
Josh
May 31, 2013 Josh rated it really liked it
Fighting the Flying Circus is the wartime journal of Eddie Rickenbacker, America’s top surviving fighter ace in World War I. The narrative, told casually and in first person, is a fast paced, fun, and exciting read that details the many harrowing flights that put this pilot among the best of the best. Conversely, this is not a comprehensive big picture accounting of the Great War, as the author does not expend much time detailing the major battles or political events surrounding him and his famo ...more
Relstuart
A classic WWI memoir. Rickenbacker manages to be serious and somber but yet preserve a positive overall feel to his story. The dark hopeless notes of some of the veterans who spent time in the trenches is absent here.

He tells his story, learning to fly combat missions, making mistakes, living thru them, and growing in skill and ability. He tells some of the overall story of his squadron and a mentions some of the other American squadrons around them. He doesn't work very heard to place their ef
...more
Josh Hamacher
A fast, very interesting read. Rickenbacker was the top American air ace of World War 1 with 26 confirmed kills. This is the story of his time at the front, which spanned less than a year. If you're interested in a real-life account of early air warfare, this book is not to be missed.
Jeff Miller
Apr 18, 2011 Jeff Miller rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book by Eddie Rickenbacker the WWI Ace and Medal of Honor winner was very interesting. This is not a biography in that it only tells of his time in the first American Squadron fighting out of France.

He gives very few details about his own life up to that point even though it is quite interesting that he entered the war as an Enlisted man and had a difficult road becoming a pilot considering his perceived lack of qualifications and not attending a prestigious college. He became an engineerin
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Jared
Oct 04, 2009 Jared rated it liked it
Recommends it for: People interested in aviation or WWI military history
(review is incomplete)

This book is 80 percent rubbish. But there are some interesting bits in the other twenty percent.

I read this on a whim. I had a copy of it on my shelf that I had bought (or maybe my mom had bought for me) many years ago through some kind of mail-order offer from Time-Life. I've long had an on-again-off-again interest in the history of flight. Inspired by a recent trip to the unique and wonderful Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, I wanted to read a bit more about WWI aviation, so whe
...more
Evan
Aug 18, 2011 Evan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written by the U.S. "ace of aces" of WW-I it is a vastly different pace from other pilot bios since it comes from the early years of aviation combat; only a good decade from the Wright Brothers, and is written from the age of living chivalry. The pilots view themself pious knights of the sky...worrying over their prey nearly as much as their friends. Whilst a similar comraderie unites aviators in general, the flavor if this work reflects the innocence of an earlier idealist time.

The very act of
...more
Alan
Aug 17, 2014 Alan rated it really liked it
This book provides a view of the Great War that is quite different from those focusing on the trenches. Rickenbacker tells interesting stories about some of the primary missions for the pilots: protecting and hunting Arial recon flights, hunting and protecting observation balloons, and later in the war. Although the pilot's day to day seemed far removed from the trench soldier experience, it was certainly very dangerous indeed. The majority of the American Aces that Rickenbacker flew with were s ...more
Bruce Jenvey
Apr 26, 2012 Bruce Jenvey rated it it was amazing
I've been reading a lot of WWI books lately as part of my research for my next novel. While particually of interest to guys or people with a high interst in Airplanes, this was a fascinating account of life and death during the first high-tech war the world had ever seen. It's the American, Ace of Aces personal account of their daily lives, their victories, their losses, their tactics but most of all, their fears. Too often, we think of WWI as comical, B&W images, so far from reality. Eddie ...more
Timothy Ferguson
This is a memoir of the commander of the “Hat in the Ring” Squadron, the most successful American squadron in the First World War. The author had a fortunate war, and his text reads a little like propaganda. He does occasionally say things critical of himself, and he broods a little on how callous he has become concerning the deaths of his friends, but generally it’s all a steady march toward victory, success and honor. This makes it less interesting that a similar book reviewed below.

Ann Voss
Feb 07, 2011 Ann Voss rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this book, based on Rickenbacker's journals written while he was a pilot during World War I, was going to be a verbose look at the first American Ace. He chose a ghost writer who checked all facts, and heavily footnoted the story. It is an excellent, well told story. Rickenbacker admits his mistakes, his great concern for the men he was responsible for, and admiration of the German aviators.
Peter
Feb 10, 2013 Peter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
A well written book mainly journalling Cpt Rickenbacker's personal adventures, the adventures of the 94th air squadron, and the general adventures of American aviators in WWI. An excellent book for understanding the general hardships and the terrors faced by early aviators. Well worth the read for anyone interested in history.
Rob MacCavett
Apr 03, 2012 Rob MacCavett rated it it was amazing
America’s “Ace of Aces” writes a simple autobiography of his WWI experiences that I first read when 9 years old. I’ve never forgotten it. Rickenbacker went on to create Eastern Airlines, have an automobile named after him, own Indianapolis Speedway (he had been a famous driver before the war) and survive a plane crash in the South Pacific while on a WWII fact finding mission. A real hero.
Walt Shiel
Apr 26, 2011 Walt Shiel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the true classics about WW I air combat written by a man who, in a few short months, proved himself a master of air-to-air combat and a true leader. His book serves as a clear reminder of where modern air combat originated. Rickenbacker was one of the men who, literally, wrote the book! Interested in air combat? You must read this book.
Terrence Mills
Apr 29, 2012 Terrence Mills rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall a good read with lots of information on the historical aviators who taught the new minted fighter pilot his trade. In this book you will read what it's like to kill a man in the air, to loose valued friends and mentors, and to risk life and limb in the service of a cause. The one drawback to this book was the occasional injection of period propaganda into the narative.
Read1000books
One of the best books I have ever read, period! Rickenbacker (America's top-scoring flying ace in World War 1)leaves out all the fluff and filler in this history/bio and gives a seat-of-your-pants-action account from start to finish. Loved it! (I read a hardcover edition but really liked this cover).
Adam
Mar 22, 2007 Adam rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: brave
Shelves: conflict
the astounding story of AMERICAN wwi ace eddie v rickenbacker. inventor, racecar driver, mechanic, fighter ace, and eventually president of delta. complete and total badass. they sure don't make fellows like this anymore, or rather fellows don't bother to make themselves into men anymore. walk around downtown & you'll see what i mean.
Ari
Fantastically written account. More than once I found myself laughing out loud at pilots' antics or holding my breath while waiting to see if someone managed to dash across the lines after a dicey landing in no man's land or tearing up when someone didn't make it. Would absolutely recommend this one.
Walt Tenor
May 08, 2014 Walt Tenor rated it it was amazing
I selected this book because I wanted a light, swashbuckling adventure and maybe pick up a few details about the historical epoch. Imagine my surprise when I discovered a completely charming and sophisticated prose that I've never experienced in any of today's memoirs. Rickenbacker was a great pilot and a terrific writer.
Danno Williamson
Spectacular book. Top American World War I flying ace in only one chapter of his life. If you love Aviation History read this book. Thrilling and a real-life adventure! Captain Eddie Rickenbacker has always been a hero of mine (since I was a kid and I am now in my fifties and this book confirms nothing has changed)!
Isaac
May 04, 2015 Isaac rated it really liked it
Very good book and well written considering he isn't a professional author. He is a little bit biased toward his group's role in the war but every division is rightfully proud of their accomplishments.
Grant
Apr 06, 2016 Grant rated it it was amazing
Based on his wartime diaries, Rickenbacker recounts his experiences as a rookie pilot, ace, and squadron commander in a highly readable manner. Rickenbacker provides a great deal of insight into the world of the Great War fighter pilot, his mentality, and what it took to win in the air.
Dale Offret
Aug 02, 2011 Dale Offret rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed the first hand narrative of flying in WW1. Eddie brings a fresh perspective to war history. I learned more about early air combat from this book than a few hours watching the history channel.
Jean
Apr 24, 2012 Jean rated it really liked it
Great description of the dangers of flying in WWI. That it was written by Richenbacker himself is a huge bonus. Clearly brings home the situation that they were fighting a war at the same time they were still figuring out just how to fly airplanes.
Don Weidinger
Sep 14, 2014 Don Weidinger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
race cars, learn from French ace, raw materials of God acknowledgement, pray evenings and thank God, initial scares of thought-to-be enemies, circle before landing, most dreaded to do down in flames, no American airplanes till end of war, Germans with parachutes, balloons confirm kills.
Steve
Oct 17, 2013 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great autobiography of Captain Eddie Rickenbacker who led the Famous Hat in the Ring squadron during World War I and became a famous American ace in the war.
David
Jan 13, 2012 David rated it really liked it
Ok just do your best to enjoy this impossibly true story. Next search far and wide for his auto biography that will stun you.
Mark Mortensen
Feb 12, 2012 Mark Mortensen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wwi
One of America’s best first hand accounts of the Great War told by the ever talented and colorful aviator Eddie Rickenbacker.
Ray Savarda
Sep 11, 2015 Ray Savarda rated it really liked it
Very clearly written, great description of life in WWI as flying fighter.
Does not sound like it's written in 1919 at all.
Ted Parkhurst
Ted Parkhurst rated it it was amazing
Sep 11, 2014
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Edward Vernon Rickenbacker was an American fighter ace in World War I and Medal of Honor recipient. With 26 aerial victories, he was America's most successful fighter ace in the war. He was also a race car driver and automotive designer, a government consultant in military matters, and a pioneer in air transportation, particularly as the longtime head of Eastern Air Lines.
More about Eddie V. Rickenbacker...

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