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The Blue Max Airmen: German Airmen Awarded the Pour le Mérite, Vol.1 (The Blue Max Airmen) Paperback – 2012
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The Blue Max Airmen series is the real story of the German airmen awarded the Pour le Mérite during the Great War. Author Lance J. Bronnenkant, PhD, and Aeronaut Books are pleased to bring you the most detailed and graphically lavish account of these heroes ever produced, covering the men in context with the war's chronology of events. For each recipient a comprehensive, well-illustrated biography of the man is given, together with photos of the aircraft he flew, followed by details of his service, including other medals awarded. Color profiles of the aircraft are provided both for the interest of enthusiasts and as references for modelers. Volume 1 covers Oswald Boelcke and Max Immelmann, the first two aviation recipients of the Pour le Mérite and among the best known and most significant. Volume 1 includes 155 period photographs and 7 color profiles of aircraft flown by Boelcke and Immelmann.
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The most coverage of 80 of those men had been found in the 547-page Nazi-era tome "Pour le mérite-Flieger - Heldentaten und Erlebnisse unserer Kriegsflieger" [Pour le mérite-Fliers - Heroic Deeds and Experiences of our Wartime Fliers] published by Walter Zuerl in 1938. The 20-victory ace Leutnant der Reserve Wilhelm Frankl was omitted due to his Jewish heritage. But Zuerl's book was useful only to readers of German. To date, the best English-language compilation of all 81 Pour le mérite aviation personnel has been the 76-page portion of the late Neal W. O'Connor's landmark 1990 book "Aviation Awards of Imperial Germany in World War I and the Men Who Earned Them: Volume II - The Aviation Awards of the Kingdom of Prussia."
Now, Lance Bronnenkant has begun a series of detailed and illustrated books devoted to the exploits of these men. The initial offering, The Blue Max Airmen - German Airmen Awarded the Pour le Mérite," covers the award's first two recipients, Hauptmann Oswald Boelcke and Oberleutnant Max Immelmann, in greater detail than other considerations this reviewer has seen. Extensively researched, this book's fine chapter endnotes verify the depth of the author's inquiries. The 155 photos are complemented by Greg VanWyngarden's research and Jim Miller's seven color profiles of aircraft the two aces flew. Good appendices and index add to the book's research value.
This volume is a "must have" for students of German aviation history in particular and World War I aero buffs in general. (This review appears in "Over the Front," quarterly journal of the non-profit League of Woirld War I Aviation Historians.)