- Hardcover: 408 pages
- Publisher: The History Press; Reprint. edition (September 1, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0752460528
- ISBN-13: 978-0752460529
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.4 x 10 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 14 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,595,502 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Shooting the Front: Allied Aerial Reconnaisance in the First World War Reprint. Edition
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"A massive, expertly written and richly illustrated history . . . based on meticulous archival research . . . Finnegan's prose is precise and clear, and he provides the necessary historical context to make his work accessible to expert and layman alike." —Thomas Boghardt, historian at the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., for cia.gov
"THE sourcebook for anyone wanting to understand the origins of modern airpower and overhead reconnaissance." —Air Power History
About the Author
Colonel Terry J. Finnegan served 30 years in parallel careers in the Air Force Reserve and in the Department of Defense as a senior level civil servant supporting NATO and NORAD alliances. His assignments included the National Security Agency, European Command, NATO, Pacific Command and Central Command during Operation Desert Storm. Terry was also a senior civil servant with NORAD, Space Command and the Defense Intelligence Agency. He has written articles for Studies in Intelligence, Over the Top and Over the Front, and was a contributor to Images of Conflict, Military Aerial Photography & Archaeology. He lives in California.
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With the thousands of books, articles and publications devoted to the history, technology, and memory of the First World War, it is hard to imagine that there is an area as of yet that has not been thoroughly examined and even re-examined but that is not necessarily the case.
With archival material becoming far more accessible and searchable with digitization initiatives, what was once obscure, if for no other reason than the shear volume of material to wade through, is now becoming far easier to peruse and material hitherto forgotten and in cases unknown have been emerging.
Yet even with this access there remain certain topics that require an individual with expertise or specialization to fully comprehend and disseminate. Such a person is able to synthesize, write and provide interpretive views for the research historian, enthusiast, as well as for the general public to understand. The author of this work Terrence J. Finnegan, who served in the Air Force Reserve with the rank of Colonel and in the Department of Defense as a senior level civil servant with NORAD, Space Command and the Defense Intelligence Agency has that experience and talent, and after reading this significant book it becomes quite clear just how comprehensible and relevant he has made the subject matter, aerial reconnaissance in the First World War available to us all.
The famed aces of the war were in fact a tactical response to both the need for and dealing with the overflights of reconnaissance aircraft. Initially aircraft were subject to the vagaries of engine and airframe as well as climate and pilot training, but it did not take long for the combatants to begin arming their aircraft both as a deterrent and provide offensive capabilities. Perhaps more importantly the realization for aerial reconnaissance, as a means to an end, propelled the establishment of large air forces. What the author brings to the reader is the mechanism, technology, tactical as well as strategic operations involved in the development of aerial reconnaissance and photography. Col. Finnegan provides comprehensive insight and the complex interrelationship that existed from pilots and observers flying at the front through the hierarchical channels to the top of the military command.
The book is as one would suppose given the background of the author systematically organized, with the relationship of technology and military necessities chronologically structured. It then moves on to deal with the importance of photographic interpretation and how the French, British and American's came to create and develop their individual programs. This leads the reader into the more complex aspects of aerial reconnaissance and photography including camouflage and deception, battlefield operations, select technologies and of course in the conclusion with the long shadow and lessons learned. The well-developed and quite comprehensible text is as to be expected accompanied with numerous maps, line drawn photo interpretations, and of course related photographs.
How then does the subject matter of this book enhance our historical as well as technological understanding of the First World War? It brings into clear focus not only the technical aspects but also the overall importance that aerial reconnaissance played in this the first war of the modern age. Secondly, it while examining the foundations of aerial intelligence gathering it provides us with a clear understanding of current reconnaissance applications whether drone, satellite or aircraft.
The one missing piece in this impressive work is the efforts carried out by the rest of the warring nations particularly Germany/Austro-Hungary as well as Imperial Russia, but doing so has provided an opening for a worthy study one that we can only hope Terry undertakes.
Terrence J. Finnegan's book "Shooting The Front" is a comprehensive, well organized, yet easy to read, complete history of the importance and technology of aerial reconnaissance and photography during the Great War. This detailed study has excellent foot notes. Shooting the Front contains numerous visual aids in the form of aerial photos, maps, charts, and explanations of cameras and processing equipment. The personnel that were developing and evolving this new form of intelligence gathering are also covered extensively.
Those who read this book will gain a new perspective of the Great War from the air and will quickly realize why protecting reconnaissance aircraft led to air combat and fighter development.
The book's format makes for an easy to read interactive experience throughout the entire 26 chapters. Finnegan has filled a gap in the military aviation history. Anyone interested in military history would find this work a desired reference and it is a "must have" for any military aviation historian.
Shooting the Front takes the reader through the evolution of aerial reconnaissance and photography from its earliest beginnings to its vital contributions in the closing campaigns of the Great War. Finnegan confines his study--admittedly so--to the British, French, and American air services on the western front, but this focus enables him to explain every required detail regarding the journey from amateur airborne photographers and scouts to a completely synchronized professional intelligence system. It's a great story of evolving doctrine, new technology, and fascinating personalities. The book is very fairly priced and beautifully presented. But don't rely on me...see for yourself!
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