Friday, April 17, 2009

Welcome

Welcome to a silly idea I had several days ago! I have been an avid reader of aircrew memoirs from the Second World War for as long as I can remember (not counting the various other interests that I have flitted to over time). I started collecting titles as found on Amazon but in the past few years have concentrated on books about the members of the RAF and Commonwealth air forces. I still maintain a passing interest in the operations of the USAAF, USN Luftwaffe and Japanese forces but, as an Australian, you can probably understand where my heart lies!

Around about 2000, when I started collecting in earnest, I stuggled to find vast amounts of books on the subject. For those of you in the know this is a ridiculous thing to say as there are thousands of titles on the RAF alone. My wish list for collecting and learning is a good read in itself.

In the past couple of years I have been fortunate to make some excellent friends in the UK and Australia who have helped broaden my knowledge of what's available and, in some cases, spend my money for me (I'm looking at you Toor!). In doing so, I have also corresponded with and met several authors and gained some insight into what it takes to put a well-researched book together. One of these days I hope to do the same but for the time being writing reviews (Amazon and Fighting High - Steve Darlow's e-zine) and the occasional article (I also run another blog) will see me through as I gather what I need.

I have worked as a journalist in the past and run my own online magazine which was very time consuming and eventually led to the other blog which is much easier to maintain. My interest in the aviation of the Second World War began with a school library book on The Battle of Britain when I was nine. Numerous plastic models, museum visits, movies and Commando comics later I branched out into books like Squadron Signal's 'In Action' series (cheap for a teenager) and generalist titles covering certain aircraft. My first memory of a memoir (ha) was an oldish, secondhand copy of Alex Henshaw's superlative Sigh for a Merlin bought at a primary school market - incidentally, still the best Spitfire book I have ever read. I devoured it and although I haven't read it since (early 1990s) I can still vividly remember many of Alex's adventures testing this greatest of aircraft. I'd say it's time to read it again!

My time as a journalist proper was short-lived as I had to make some decent money but it followed time as an accountant, truck driver and recruitment researcher. Most recently I was a recruitment consultant but it's now time to find something better. Throughout my various incarnations I have maintained a fascination for what aircrew experienced during the war. I have been fortunate enough to meet several veterans and have even worked alongside some on a couple of major aircraft restorations down here in Australia. To a man I have found them friendly, modest and, at times, wondering what all the fuss is about. A gross generalisation perhaps but any variance would be understandable considering what they lived through. I know I could certainly not have done what they did in their late teens/early 20s. Fortunately, I have not had the opportunity to prove this otherwise and that's largely because of what these men (and women) sacrificed for what we have today.

Each book is a pleasure to read (even the not-so-great ones) and I hope I can convey what each is like to read without giving the game away too much. I'll also endeavour to let you know when or where I bought my copy and where it is available now as I'll be reviewing old and new titles (basically whatever takes my fancy at the time). Please also feel free to recommend titles I may not be aware of or that you think would complement a reviewed title.

Cheers

Andy Wright



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