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Goshawk Squadron (Cassell Military Classics) [Paperback]

Derek Robinson
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Leadership Style of Major Woolley April 14 2003
Derek Robinson wrote Goshawk Squadron in 1971 and began his depiction of squadron life in the Royal Flying Corps (later Royal Air Force). Unlike his later novels that focused on the fictional "Hornet" squadron, this first effort focused on the "Goshawk" squadron, but the method and characters are essentially similar. The main protagonist in Goshawk Squadron is the unit commander, Major Stanley Woolley. This character is clearly defined as an anti-hero, indeed his behavior and methods may appear repugnant or even borderline insane. However, Robinson succeeds in developing an odd pathos behind Woolley and over the course of the novel the reader should gain understanding of the forces that drive this odd character, if not empathy for him. Modern-day military officers might benefit from studying the command methods of Woolley, particularly in preparing units for combat. Overall, Goshawk Squadron is a true classic that delivers vivid characters and action that draws the reader further and further into the realities of air combat in the First World War.
Goshawk Squadron is set in the period January-March 1918, just before the German spring offensives. The squadron is equipped with the SE-5a fighter and begins the novel resting and re-building behind the lines. Woolley has been commander of the squadron for one year and although fanatical in his training methods, he is approaching combat burnout. Indeed, Woolley is so cynical (but realistic, as it turns out) that he believes all his pilots will be dead within three months. In a seemingly futile but rabid effort, Woolley spends the brief period behind the lines to train his squadron to be the most cold-blooded and efficient killers possible.
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Goshawk Squadron is very accurately described in the reviews above (or below). While the tale is a brilliant war story, accurate and rivetting, it is, like all of Robinson's work deeply antiwar. The stupidity and futility of war could not be clearer.
The writing quality should be used as a model for all aspiring novelists. Everything is perfect.
Finally, you as reader, need to answer a question after you read the first chapter. Did yo it serious? Funny? Rolling on the floor, laugh out loud funny? If not the last, you're too tightly wound, and must immediately read all of Robinson's work. That should cure you of most ailments. He's that consistent, and that good.
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By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
A pure delight to read, Goshawk Squadron has everything going for it: pulse-pounding air combat action, unique and in-depth characters, and capturing the tragedy, horror and peculiar black humor of war. Forget the chivalrous red baron fighting a worthy foe: the truth of Bloody April is vivid in these pages; as Wooley says, "There are only two breed of men up there... murderers and victims." An excellent tour de force by Derek Robinson.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent for military aviation aficionados! June 21 1999
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book is a page turner. It gives a realistic glimpse of the life of a British RFC SE5a squadron during WW1. Full of well developed charactors and exciting action. It explodes the myth of the "gallant knight of the air." The action is gritty and intense with accurate descriptions of life during wartime, flying and dogfights. This book is a must for any military aviation aficionado.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Best fictional book on WW1 air combat Aug. 3 1999
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is probably my most favorite work of fiction. I first read it when I was in the Air Force in 1972 and I have re-read it three times since. Often humorous and always entertaining it never drags. It is not easy to find but if you do, get it, you won't be sorry. Then try Piece of Cake, Derek Robinson's book about life with an RAF squadron during the early days of WW2.
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