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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I've accumulated quite a library of WWI aviation books, and this is undoubtedly the most error-filled I've ever come across. The Red Baron's death ocurring in an Albatross? Triplanes with prop spinners? Twin Lewis guns in a Sopwith Camel? Mislabeled/misidentified aircraft too numerous to mention. I'll give the author good marks for conveying the "feel" of what an airman's life was like and how the war wore them down, but it was just impossible to get past the glaring factual errors. Any of the new info I gleaned was impossible to take at face value since he obviously got so much of the basic stuff wrong. Oh, yeah, a large portion of the photos are either of plastic models or the box art from old Revell model kits. At least it was inexpensive...
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on February 16, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I take some issue with the above review. This is not the book if you are looking for technical breakdowns of the various aircraft. However, if you want to try to catch an image of what life must have been like in the aerodromes, Longstreet does a good job of telling us about the aviators and their (often very short) lives.
I failed to detect any animosity toward any individual flyer, including the famous Baron. Longstreet is open in his views about the foolishness of war but seems to respect the pilots. At least that was my take. He does point out that all of the claims for all of the aces are probably exaggerated.
If you're looking for horsepower ratings of Hispano-Suisa or Le Rhone engines this is not your book. If you're looking for a human story about the first air-battles The Canvas Falcons is a good place to start.
Besides "Canvas Falcons" sounds better than "Linen" or "Plywood" would. Doesn't it?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 12, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I'm not an aviation buff so I found no pain in (and can't verify) any technical errors this book might've had concerning the aircraft. I did however, enjoy the stories and goings-on of the various pilots and their air groups. The focus is mainly on the more famous (but some will definitely be lesser-known) English, German, and French fliers, but does stop to talk about American fliers, as well as pilots of other countries and lesser known areas of operation during WWI. Includes short histories and family upbringing on the pilots, their characters, their friends and fellow pilots, how they got into the then yet undeveloped air service, their trials and duels in the air (many times their deaths), and their activities on and off base, often interjected with their own quotes and sometimes excerpts of their own writing. Also includes stories of the more famous inventors working on the technological developments accompanying the planes and its armament at that time. Definitely interesting -- I felt a mix of awe, admiration and excitement for the fliers and innovators, was horrified by the gruesome realities in air combat, and sometimes laughed a bit at the funny and silly situations of that life and time. The people of the early 1900s: stupidly innocent, stubborn, brave, pioneering, and romantic...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 29, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
While there do appear to be a few technical inaccuracies with this book, I found it amazing in at least one respect: rather than the typical hero-worship associated with our view of world war one pilots, THE CANVAS FALCONS provides the best understanding of what their lives were like that I've ever read. Were they gallant? Yes. But it was eye opening to me to see that these men were also very scared, completely in touch with the fact that death was almost a certainty. This was brought home with information about things like men flying with the 'shakes' while losing faith in the war effort. Yes, they were gallant and some were gentlemen but, it turns out, some were also just self aggrandizing louts. So, technically perfect, no. A mind opening view of what was supposedly a glamorous service? Absolutely!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 15, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Moving from Donald Jack's The Bandy Papers, I was more than somewhat intrigued by the history and fate of the World War One pilot and all that his life entailed. So i got my hands on the Canvas Falcons and found it was almost impossible to put down. The incredible detail and colourful writing brought me back to an age i never knew but wanted so desperately to be a part of, even though i know that the life span of a pilot back then was six to eight weeks. And, as the other reviewer wrote, there is an excellent excerpt at the end of a pilot's life during and after the war in France. I did some digging for that one and discovered that it was in print and bought one. It was another excellent book bringing to life a period we all may read about or see in movies, but will never ever have a chance to live. Oh, by the way, the book is titled, Lower Than Angels and is written by W.W. Windstaff, a psuedonym for fellow who's rich parents would have disowned him if they ever discovered that he wrote such saucy material.

Cheers

Nelson B.C.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover
There are so many errors in this work that I simply can't recommend it. Just about any other book on World War I aviation would serve you better than this one. It is an engaging read. However the research is poor.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I recently got around to pulling this one off of the shelf after having purchased a copy years ago. I have two regrets, one that I waited so long and second that this classic, well written history of the planes and aviators of the wood and canvas days is apparently no longer in print. If you are interested in this subject, you should spare no effort in finding a copy; this is one of the best. The author does a great job of bringing this exciting and tragic era back to life. The best section of the book is an excerpt from a privately printed memoir from an American flyer of the period. This is not a children's history; the author includes colorful details about the extracurricular exploits of the flyers while on leave. My edition was well illustrated with period photographs.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 10, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
As a non history buff (but an aircraft buff, pilot and antique aircraft builder and flier), I enjoyed this book about fliers and planes of WW1. It is about the gut feelings of those who flew and died in the beginnings of combat aircraft. An insight of those who had guts that sometimes got disturbed by events around them.
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on October 8, 2013
Format: Mass Market PaperbackVerified Purchase
As a writer I am looking for the different characters of the pilots, their lives and daily activities. I am seeking an accurate description for one of my main characters in an upcoming novel. The detailed stories of the pilots on both sides including their innovations is comprehensive, exciting and inspiring. The book is well written and very entertaining.
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on June 28, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
There is very little fact in Mr Longstreet's book, "The Canvas Falcon". To begin with the Aircraft of World War 1 were covered with either linen or plywood, none were covered with canvas. Mr Longstreet's hatred of Germans and especially of Manfred von Richtofen clouds the book with more fiction than fact. While the book is easy for all to read, it should not be considered a history book. There are many other books on World War 1 aviation which are much better. As a World War 1 historian I have read many books on the subject and I would have to rank "The Canvas Falcons" at the bottom of the list.
Richard D. Schrader
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