Norman Archibald (1894-1975), the author of this book, reflects upon his experiences as a fighter pilot with the 95th Aero Squadron of the First Pursuit Group in France during the summer of 1918. In doing so, he also shares with the reader his enthusiasm for flying, which led him to join the U.S. Army Air Service in the spring of 1917. Archibald's description of his flight training, both in the U.S. and in France, where he was among a number of aviation cadets placed into an accelerated training scheme, give the reader a tangible sense of both the thrills and hazards of flying. For this was an era in which Allied pilots flew without parachutes, and mechanical and structural failures were seemingly more the rule than the exception.
Archibald's tenure at the Front lasted a couple of months before his fighter plane was forced down behind enemy lines. Following his capture, he also provides the reader with a view of the First World War prisoner of war experience that has become lost on most people for the past century. This is a thrilling and poignant war memoir that I recommend for anyone who wants to begin to educate him/herself in this cententary year on how someone managed to survive "the war to end all wars."