"It is only now I can look back, judge of the hazards, and get a vague idea of the miracle that passed me through those years unscathed."
Did you know that 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I? And if you don't, where have you been hiding, and may I join you there? But seriously, folks . . .
What to choose from among the plethora of World War I books published this year? Try Sagittarius Rising, Cecil Lewis' memoir of his time as a flying ace, just reissued by Penguin Classics. Lewis later won a screenwriting Oscar for the film Pygmalion, and his storytelling flair is equally on display here. He captures both the bravado and precariousness of a pilot's life during the war, as well as the bureaucratic frustrations, and the conflicted feelings his leave periods engender. There's also a fascinating coda that follows Lewis to China after the war to help the country develop its aviation industry (with results that, though immensely entertaining, it would be generous to call mixed).
Sagittarius Rising is an illuminating eyewitness slice of history.
Today's Book of the Day is Cecil Lewis' Sagittarius Rising.
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