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A compelling and fascinating account of aerial combat in World War I, revealing the terrible risks run by the men who fought and died in the world's first air war. Little more than 10 years after the first powered flight, aircraft were pressed into service in World War I. Nearly forgotten in the war's massive overall death toll, some 50,000 aircrew would die in the combatant nations' fledgling air forces. The romance of aviation had a remarkable grip on the public imagination, propaganda focusing on gallant air 'aces' who become national heroes. The reality was horribly different. MARKED FOR DEATH debunks popular myth to explore the brutal truths of wartime aviation: of flimsy planes and unprotected pilots; of burning 19-year-olds falling screaming to their deaths; of pilots blinded by the entrails of their observers. James Hamilton-Paterson also reveals how four years of war produced profound changes both in the aircraft themselves and in military attitudes and strategy. By 1918 it was widely accepted that domination of the air above the battlefield was crucial to military success, a realization that would change the nature of warfare for ever.
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About the Author

James Hamilton-Paterson is the author of the bestselling EMPIRE OF THE CLOUDS, a classic account of the golden age of British aviation. He won a Whitbread Prize for his first novel, GERONTIUS. He lives in Austria.


'A well-researched history of the air operations of WW1 from an unusual perspective ... a high quality historical work which is at the same time highly readable' Aerospace Magazine. 'Hamilton-Paterson's book soars far above most First World War histories ... Written with beautiful clarity, this book brings alive both the exhilaration of flight and the experience of killing' Sunday Times. 'For its mix of clear-eyed history, myth-busting and gobsmacking derring-do it's hard to beat James Hamilton Patterson's Marked for Death' Nick Curtis, Book of the Year in the Evening Standard. 'Hamilton-Paterson unsparingly exposes the truth of early wartime aviation: of flimsy aircraft and unprotected pilots who had no parachutes' Catholic Herald. 'Hamilton-Paterson's thorough research reveals much - his book is a wide-ranging education of WWI aviation and is written by someone who really knows flying. Highly recommended!' Pilot Magazine. 'An exhilarating book ... by turns, thrilling, joyful, wistful and provocative' Rowland White. 'Hamilton-Paterson's superb book, not only meticulously researched but also supremely readable, tells the tales of many heroes ... he unearths fascinating information, but the book is just as good on the nuts and bolts of flying, and what it was like to engage in a dog fight' Daily Mail. 'A terrific story, which Hamilton-Paterson tells with tremendous relish, elegance and attention to detail. An acclaimed poet and novelist, he is excellent at capturing the sheer courage of the pilots who ran risks that almost defy credibility' The Sunday Times.

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