Terror of the Autumn Skies: The True Story of Frank Luke, America's Rogue Ace of World War I

Terror of the Autumn Skies: The True Story of Frank Luke, America's Rogue Ace of World War I

4.2 5
by Blaine Pardoe
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions


Frank Luke, Jr. was an unlikely pilot. In the Great War, when fliers were still “knights of the air,” Luke was an ungallant loner—a kid from Arizona who collected tarantulas, shot buzzards, and boxed miners. But during two torrid weeks in September 1918, he was the deadliest man on the Western Front. In only ten missions, he destroyed fourteen

Overview


Frank Luke, Jr. was an unlikely pilot. In the Great War, when fliers were still “knights of the air,” Luke was an ungallant loner—a kid from Arizona who collected tarantulas, shot buzzards, and boxed miners. But during two torrid weeks in September 1918, he was the deadliest man on the Western Front. In only ten missions, he destroyed fourteen heavily-defended German balloons and four airplanes, the second highest American tally in the entire war. Author Blaine Pardoe retraces and refreshes Frank Luke’s story through recently discovered correspondence. Frantic, short, and splendid, the life of Frank Luke, Jr. dramatizes the tragic intervention of an American spirit in the war that devastated Europe.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Breezy, journalistic biography of America's greatest World War I fighter ace-until a German ace shot him down six weeks before the armistice. Frank Luke Jr. (1897-1918) grew up in turn-of-the-century Arizona; high school classmates in Phoenix noted his fondness for guns, horseplay and football. In 1917, the year America declared war on Germany, he enlisted in the fledgling Army Air Corps. Everything about this revolutionary new branch of warfare, including the aircraft, training and tactics, was improvised, unreliable and extremely dangerous; combat pilots had a life expectancy of three weeks. Novelist and military writer Pardoe (The Cruise of the Sea Eagle, 2005, etc.) recounts Luke's training in the United States and France, summarizes America's role in the war and provides short biographies of fellow pilots and commanders. In July 1918, the rookie pilot joined the 27th Squadron at the front, where his self-confidence, boastfulness and aggressiveness quickly made him unpopular with the squad's veterans. They warmed up to Luke as his score of kills grew. By autumn, it had reached 18, and stories of his achievements began appearing in American newspapers, which extolled him as the "balloon buster." (Destroying observation balloons was a very dangerous mission because balloons were heavily defended.) Within days of Luke's death in September, fellow ace Eddie Rickenbacker had replaced him in the headlines, and Luke's name eventually faded away to become the answer to a trivia question. Readers may wince at the author's overheated writing style and penchant for describing his subjects' inner feelings, but they will admire the research that turned up a generous trove of letters and diaries,enabling Pardoe to deliver a detailed picture of the not-very-introspective airman's short life. Military buffs who overlook the purple prose will enjoy a brisk, nuts-and-bolts description of air warfare in the murderously flimsy flying machines of 1918.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781616082949
Publisher:
Skyhorse Publishing
Publication date:
07/27/2011
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
621,874
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Blaine Pardoe is a novelist and military historian. His books on the Great War include The Cruise of the Sea Eagle and Terror of the Autumn Skies.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Terror of the Autumn Skies: The True Story of Frank Luke, America's Rogue Ace of World War I 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read Balloon Buster as a kid and thought I knew the Frank Luke story. This book changed that. We finally get to see the German perspective of Frank Luke's rampage. Pardoe also brings in a wealth of new material about his love life and even some photographs that have never been published. Finally, Luke is more than just a pilot blowing up balloons -- this book makes him a real person. This is not a story of Frank Luke's death, this is a story about his entire life.
DC105 More than 1 year ago
This book is better researched than any I have previously read on the topic. It is well written and quite absorbing. In fact, it reads more like a novel than non-fiction, even though it is factual.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There has been much written about Frank Luke, but Mr. Pardoe has done his research very well and had pointed out some discrepancies that others have missed. As many other individuals that have excelled in combat, Frank Luke had a problem with military protocol and discipline. Yet he truly blazed a path in the new realm of US fighter pilots. Had he lived longer, who knows what he might have done.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago