Review: Marked For Death

I should really confer with my friend Jeff before I write any of these capsules.  I’m frequently lukewarm on a book until I tell him about what I found out from reading it.  This is written after such a session, so I may actually be too excited about James Hamilton-Patterson’s Marked For Death.

Marked is a history of World War I aviation from a British author and perspective.  That’s an unusual one for me, as most of what I’ve read has been from the American  point of view (or from American or German participants.)  Hamilton-Patterson is very explicit that Marked is not a linear narrative of the war, but a ramble through topics about WWI aviation that interest him and that have been under-represented.  It’s an interesting set of topics, and clearly of our modern era.

He spends his time talking about how the UK bureaucracy inhibited adoption and development of aviation early in the war, some under-explicated specifics of the aircraft design, the structure of flight training, and aeromedical issues.  One gets the sense that he’s a pilot, as many of these issues are hot buttons in our fraternity.  It was a pleasure to learn more about many of them.

While I did enjoy the ramble, the lack of narrative focus did allow some of the chapters to drag.  I’m largely a motivated reader on many of these topics, and I felt the momentum flag at several points.

Overall, Hamilton-Patterson brings a fresh perspective and solid research to under reported topics in WWI aviation.


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