“An extraordinary and compelling account of the eponymous Lafayette Escadrille, made up of volunteers who had served in WW1 and wanted to join the allied struggles in WW2." — Books Monthly
The Lafayette Escadrille was an all-volunteer squadron of Americans who flew for France during World War I. One hundred years later, it is still arguably the best-known fighter squadron ever to take to the skies. In this work the entire history of these gallant volunteers—who named themselves after the Marquis Lafayette, who came to America’s aid during its Revolution—is laid out in both text and pictorial form. his work not only tells the fascinating story of the Lafayette Escadrille, it shows it.
Already a student of the squadron, the author spent a full year sifting through university and museum archives in the United States and France for photographs and documents relating to the famed unit. To complement these images, he traveled extensively, taking snapshots of existing markers and memorials honoring the men of the Lafayette Escadrille. In France, he specifically sought out locations where the squadron operated and its pilots frequented. In several cases, he was able to match his present-day color photos with contemporary images of the same scene, thus creating a jaw-dropping then-and-now comparison. To add even more color, the author included artwork and aircraft profiles by recognized illustrators, along with numerous full-color photographs of artifacts relating to the squadron's men and airplanes, as they are displayed today in various museums in the United States and France.
The result is undoubtedly the finest photographic collection of the Lafayette Escadrille to appear in print. Along with the expert text revealing air-combat experiences as well as life at the front during the Great War, it is a never-before-seen visual history that both World War I aviation aficionados and those with a passing interest in history will appreciate.
1 A n All-American Idea Takes Shape 2 The Escadrille Américaine Is Born 3 First Blood 4 Into the Grinder 5 Season of Discontent 6 The Battle Continues 7 The Best and the Bravest 8 Misery in the Somme 9 Mac Goes West 10 The Heartbreak of Ham 11 Chaudun and Beyond 12 Hard Times at Senard 13 From Falcons of France to American Eagles 14 Aftermath
Epilogue Appendices Selected Bibliography Archival Sources Museums Index
Steven A. Ruffin is an aviation writer and researcher who has previously written the books Aviation's Most Wanted and Flights of No Return, as well as numerous articles in aviation and military magazines. He also served as the Managing Editor of the prestigious World War I aviation journal Over the Front from 2007 through 2010.
"Former Over the Front managing editor Steve Ruffin is well qualified to produce perhaps the most appealing treatment of the familiar subject: the Lafayette Escadrille of 1916-1918. The detailed, workmanlike text details “the life and times of the Lafayette.” From formation of N.124 in April 1916, through disestablishment as SPA.124 nearly two years later, the author traces the fortunes of all 38 Americans and their French squadron mates. Ruffin earns high marks for objectivity. Not all the Lafayette brothers were valiant, and he addresses the heels as well as the heroes. The postwar fortunes of the survivors include reason for both admiration and gloom. Rare among Lafayette histories, Ruffin places the escadrille in context, acknowledging that it had an average record. Certainly its greatest contribution was in the propaganda realm, as intended. With more than 220 photos (nearly 40 in color) Ruffin’s volume contains rare images not only of people and aircraft, but uniforms, artifacts, documents, and memorials. Six aircraft profiles by Tomasz Gronczewski and Alan Toelle provide detailed examinations of Nieuport 11s, 17s, and SPAD 7s. Appendices include bases, a full pilot roster, and a lengthy bibliography. Ruffin’s book obviously is a labor of love that will be appreciated by Great War aerophiles for years to come."
~Barrett Tillman, Aerodrome
"undoubtedly the finest photographic collection of the Lafayette Escadrille to appear in print. Along with the expert text revealing air-combat experiences as well as life at the front during the Great War, it is a never-before-seen visual history that both World War I aviation aficionados and those with a passing interest in history will appreciate. When its all said and done I can highly recommend this book to any and all enthusiasts of the WWI aviation genre."
~WWI In Plastic
"This magnificent book probably provides everything needed by someone wishing to learn about this famous fighting unit, and really lives up to its sub-title…a reference book of the highest quality and one well worth having.”"
~Cross and Cockade
"...Given Ruffin's 44 years of pilot experience and membership in the League of WWI Aviation Historians, he tells this rousing story as well as any predecessor....with the added benefit of research that cuts through the myths without harming the narrative. Ruffin also made use of Alan Toelle's research into the escadrille's aircraft markings, which benefit both the photograph captions and the color artwork by Tomasz Gronczewski. The wealth of photos includes some new ones from the period as well as updates on the squadron up to its continuing service in the French Air force today...worthy update to earn a spot in the WWI aviation enthusiast's library"
"a fresh look at the 38 Americans in the Escadrille Américaine, as it was first called, to produce this voluminous account of the unit. In addition to mini-bios of each member, his narrative is complemented by a superb collection of black & white and color photos and other illustrations gathered during a dedicated search for materials...is a finely-researched, well-written and well-illustrated book. It is recommended highly."
~Over the Front
"For The Lafayette Escadrille, aviation historian Steven Ruffi n has collected a range of unknown or never-before-seen photos: formal Civil War-style portraits, signed glossies of fliers in movie star poses, and, thanks to American pilot Paul Rockwell, casual shots of legendary pilots fighting boredom, hanging around a hangar playing cards, attending funerals, and being buried with full military honors. While the book has “photo history” in its subtitle, the Lafayette Escadrille requires narrative to separate legend from reality, which Ruffi n adds simply and factually while letting the pictures do the heavy lifting. But when it comes to describing aerial combat in all its bloody fury, he excels."
~Phil Scott, Air and Space Magazine
“While the book has “photo history” in its subtitle, the Lafayette Escadrille requires narrative to separate legend from reality, which Ruffi n adds simply and factually while letting the pictures do the heavy lifting. But when it comes to describing aerial combat in all its bloody fury, he excels.”
~Air and Space Magazine
"The Lafayette Escadrille is an interesting volume that combines a well-written text with "then and now" photos that relate to the exploits of the squadron and its pilots."
“Historians have produced many works on the famous flying formation. This work stands out because of the author’s attention to minute detail, and his extensive travels as part of his research… He matched old photographs to their present-day sites, allowing him to show many interesting then-and-now scenes. The book also includes compelling period illustrations and artwork. Mated together with detailed text, the volume is a worthy addition to the body of work on the Lafayette Escadrille.”
"... the black and white photos excavated from archives are startlingly clear, most being scans from the negatives, not copies of copies. Uniform buffs and dioramists will be impressed with the sharpness of detail."
~Historical Miniatures Gaming Society
"For those looking for an excellent reference on the Lafayette Escadrille, look no further. The perfect balance between written history and photographic documentation is achieved, and as a result this is a book that is hard to put down."
"I can say, without equivocation, that this publication is the most thorough and detailed historical narrative of the Lafayette Escadrille that I have had the opportunity to study and read. This book is highly recommended due to the excellent maps, large number of stunning black and white images, and detailed coverage of the subject."
"...of great interest to modelers of WWI aircraft and aviation historians alike."
"As for the photos gathered by the author and his publisher—the huge collection (for a 228-page volume) is superb, comprehensive and nicely displayed...Highly recommended without qualification."
~Roads to the Great War
“An extraordinary and compelling account of the eponymous Lafayette Escadrille, made up of volunteers who had served in WW1 and wanted to join the allied struggles in WW2."
“ …undoubtedly the finest photographic collection of the Lafayette Escadrille to appear in print. Along with the expert text revealing air-combat experiences as well as life at the front during the Great War, it is a never-before-seen visual history that both World War I aviation aficionados and those with a passing interest in history will appreciate."
"Drawing on a wealth of knowledge, primary sources and first-hand accounts, Ruffin provides in-depth text covering a multitude of facets across the 14 chapters...Kudos must go to Ruffin for travelling across France to take modern snapshots of key locations..."
"Ruffin’s background as a pilot and Air Force officer comes through and he makes the technical aspects of combat flying understandable to non-fliers. This practical knowledge combines with good writing and excellent illustrations to produce an informative, highly readable volume that military enthusiasts and general readers alike will benefit from reading."
"Aviation historian and U.S. Air Force veteran Steven Ruffin has painstakingly compiled a comprehensive history of the unit. More than 230 photographs accompany the text."
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