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fossumcarl

Fork-Tailed Devil; The P-38 Lightning

Fork-Tailed Devil: The P-38 - Martin Caidin One of those books where I've had it sitting on the to be read shelf for quite a long time. Now that I've read it, I wonder why I took so long to get to it. A masterful study of an under remembered fighter that was crucial to victory in the African and Pacific campaigns as well in Europe.
The beginning first few chapters are the best. the first chapter is a beautiful piece of non fiction essay writing telling of a gathering in the 60's of the Confederate Air Force (no, they are not planning a 2nd succession), a group dedicated to flying and preserving old "Warbirds". It gives you such a great feeling of " You are there" that you can almost see the planes in your mind's eye. The book continues strongly in the early development of the p-38.

The book sags a bit in later chapters since some of them are almost entirely large quotes from actual pilots about their experiences. It is all well and good that their expreiences be told, but such long quotes and not in a necessarily cohesive form damages any narrative flow the book has. if these could have been better incorporated into a central narrative this would have been a marvelous book instead of a very good one.

Footnotes also could have been used. In 1971, when this book was orginally published, lots of popular military histories followed the no footnotes trend as some more general histories still do today. Fork-Tailed devil crys out for footnotes especially in portions where a story that defies logic was involved. the author merely states that his story is backed by many eyewitness accounts and numerous interviews. this is always hard to swallow without documentation.