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The Big Show: The Greatest Pilot's Story of World War II
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The Big Show: The Greatest Pilot's Story of World War II (Cassell Military Paperbacks)

4.53  ·  Rating Details  ·  236 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
This is absolutely the best fighter pilot memoir of World War II. Pierre Closterman was a Free French fighter ace and his account of the air war over Britain and France has justly become famous. It contains everything one could wish for: wonderfully observed descriptions of wartime Britain, frighteningly evocative stories of in-the-cockpit action, an amazing cast of charac ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published April 1st 2007 by Cassell (first published 1948)
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(showing 1-30 of 403)
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Pierre Clostermann's story of flying over 300 combat missions while serving as a Free French Sergeant-Pilot with the RAF.

The episode when Clostermann helped remove a fellow pilot from the cockpit of a Hawker Tempest fighter that had crashed and cartwheeled in a flaming wreck while attempting a "wheels-up" belly-landing, and then holding what was left of his burned & mangled friend as he died in his arms was gut-wrenching. And then the next day Clostermann himself, bravely risked a belly-lan
LE livre qui a lancé mon intérêt pour la Seconde Guerre mondiale, certainement parmi mon top cinq des meilleurs livres. Mon exemplaire, en édition originale 1948, relu plusieurs fois, tombe malheureusement en lambeaux tellement je l'ai lu et relu, au point que l'objet fait maintenant figure de relique!

Clostermann a une plume intense, décrivant de manière haletante son épopée à travers la guerre aérienne en Europe de l'ouest. Sans être un auteur génial, le rythme de son écriture est captivant. Il
Dec 04, 2013 Nat rated it it was amazing
Clostermann's account of a suicidal mission his squadron of Tempests was sent on in the closing months of the war in Europe exceeds the speeder attack on the snow walkers in the beginning of Empire Strikes Back in terms of sheer visual awesomeness. His squadron bursts from dense cloud cover to find itself over an airfield packed with German transports (including Arado 232s) about to carry personnel to Norway to escape the Allied advance, seaplanes trying to take off, and tons of 20mm and 37mm fl ...more
This is the story of France's leading ace as told by himself, Pierre Clostermann. His English is very good. He flew 420 missions with the RAF as a fighter pilot and shot down 33 German planes.

We begin following his story after he started with the RAF. When the war started he was in America studying engineering. His father sent him a telegram telling him to join up with De Gaulle or he was no son of his. So he traveled to England, let it be know he built his own plane at 17 and already knew how
Craig Dunning
'Le Grand Cirque', Pierre Clostermann's second world war pilot diary is a gutwrenching account of a free French pilot serving in the RAF, flying for his life against heavily defended ground targets & the crème of the Luftwaffe over western Europe.

The final chapters, especially the entry concerning the tragedy at the 12 May 1945 victory fly-past at Bremerhaven, are among the most poignant recollections from a second world war pilot that I have read.

Many armchair historians knock this book a
Rupert Matthews
Oct 13, 2015 Rupert Matthews rated it it was amazing
Exciting, amusing and terrifying by turns. This is a great personal memoir. Written at the time, he makes a number of mistakes due to censorship denying him the knowledge of what was really going on, but this makes it all the more interesting. The most interesting bit is towards the end when he goes back to France and is effectively cold-shouldered. He was an embarrassment. While he had been risking his life and seeing his friends killed, they had been sitting on their backsides knuckling under ...more
Aug 03, 2009 Curtiss rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Military Aviation Enthusiasts
Recommended to Curtiss by: Found under my desk in Jr. High.
One of the very best personal memoires about aerial combat in World War II.

Clostermann flew 420 missions with the French Airforce and then with the Free French and RAF. His description of dragging the still-living upper half of a comrade from a burning Hawker Tempest, after that friend's unsuccessful attempt at a dead-stick landing, is particularly grim; especially as the next day Clostermann was forced to make his own attempt at a dead-stick landing.

Clostermann's final flight in his personal Te
Nick Hawkins
Jun 08, 2014 Nick Hawkins rated it really liked it
Shelves: military-history
The first edition was one of my favourite books in the school library, a great tale of daring do. I read the expanded second edition as an adult, it's still a great tale but now exposes the reader to the remorseless attrition that characterised air warfare during WW2.
Tony Pedley
Dec 01, 2015 Tony Pedley rated it it was amazing
Simply the best description of the aerial combat in WW2. if you want to know what it felt like to serve on the front line of the RAF during the 2nd world war, you cannot beat this book
Robert Ford
Jan 16, 2016 Robert Ford rated it it was amazing
I first read this book in the 70's and I've re-read is several times. If your interest about World War Two history from a fighter pilot view, read this book !
Yubal Masalker
Oct 11, 2015 Yubal Masalker rated it it was amazing
I read its Hebrew translation.
Barbara Mader
Jul 14, 2011 Barbara Mader rated it it was amazing
Amazing memoir of a young Frenchman who flew with the RAF during WWII. Most of the writing is directly from journals he kept at the time. I found it terribly interesting and also devastating.

Born in Brazil to French parents, Pierre Clostermann was attending CalTech when WWII broke out. He graduated early and was in England by early 1941 (still age 19). He flew over 400 missions and was one of few to last out the war.

I found it a shatteringly vivid read.

He's pretty down on the Americans who fough
Nach "Das Boot" war es interessant mal einen Einblick in den Luftkrieg zu bekommen. Hier in Form eines Missionstagebuch von einem der besten Kampfpiloten aus den zweiten Weltkrieg.

Sehr informativ und absolut wahnsinnig, was die Flieger damals leisten mussten.

Sprachlich leider nicht ansatzweise so aufregend wie "Das Boot". Aber ein Muss für jeden Fan der Fliegerei.
Sep 02, 2011 MjL rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned, war
It's a really interesting book. Especially the early (and the last one) descriptions of flying were awesome and delivered the joy of flight.
The examples of how the americans related to the civilians wasn't really a surprise to me but still managed to shock and even sadden me. That's quite unusual nowadays :P

All in all: a pretty amazing book.
Jessie Blackwood
Dec 27, 2011 Jessie Blackwood rated it really liked it
An amazing first-hand account of a pilot in WW2. I am reading it with interest and awe. It is in places gruesome and pulls no punches but it is a true and honest account by one man who survived the most dangerous of occupations and what more could you ask? This is stuff that needs to be read and recorded for the future.
Mar 13, 2011 Jonathan rated it it was amazing
A dramatic and acutely-observed account of the experiences of a fighter pilot in the second half of World War II. Pierre had an infectious passion for flying, for people, and for life and conveys all these throughout his books.
Pierre also happened to be my great-uncle, which makes this book all the more poignant.
Patrick Gowdy
Feb 25, 2010 Patrick Gowdy rated it it was amazing
This is the best story I have read about the air war over England and Europe. Clostermann was a true war hero. One that we in the US have never hear of; although, he was credited with the most kills of all WWII pilots.
Samuel Giordano
Aug 02, 2015 Samuel Giordano rated it it was amazing
You can almost feel the dry mouth sensation of then pilot when he describes the combat and dog fight scenes. Vivid as rarely this kind of real history is written. For aviation buffs is highly recommended.
May 17, 2010 Fiid rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: aviation
Another perspective on flying duing WWII. These people were amazing, facing death every day and carrying on, despite losing their peers nearly every mission.
Scott Vizcarra
Feb 25, 2010 Scott Vizcarra rated it it was amazing
One of the few books on french fliers. I reccomend this to everyone. His exploits were legendary. We'll miss you Pierre.
Simon Diver
Jun 29, 2010 Simon Diver rated it it was amazing
A fighter pilot's memoir of his 432 sorties over Germany during WWII. An incredible story of heroism and sadness.
Nov 03, 2012 Kristian rated it it was amazing
Possibly the best book I've read about the air war in WW2, up there with the best like "First Light"
Ben Cook
Ben Cook marked it as to-read
Feb 07, 2016
Pablo rated it really liked it
Feb 05, 2016
Laurence Cagnon
Laurence Cagnon rated it it was amazing
Jan 29, 2016
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Ian Donnelly marked it as to-read
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