Quentin Roosevelt; A Sketch with Letters

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Read Books, 2008 - 296 pages
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An insightful and fascinating read. From letters home we get a candid, on the spot view of the Western Front behind the lines from the perspective of a privileged, white American - the son of a President no less. An ebullient, gregarious 'man's man' Quentin had a knack of getting the best out of others and was held in jobs where he excelled: running over 50 trucks out of a supply depot, helping to set up one of the first AEF aerodromes and once he had passed through with flying colours - running a flying school, and all of this age just 20.
Enamoured of all things mechanical as a boy he fell in love with aeroplanes age 11 and craved to fly in combat, if not with the Americans, then with a French or British Squadron. The son of a president with an excellent reputation he could pull strings to get the posting he wanted, but this took time. His ability to get things done were so great that his seniors were loath to lose him. His men were sad to see him go too when he finally got his way. A star pupil through flying school and in target practice and practice dog fights it wasn't long before he got into scraps over the German Lines.
Inevitably, and we feel it with growing dread as we read the book, we know he will be killed. Just a month into a combat role, with one 'victory' to his name, he finds himself set upon by three German planes flying an inferior machine and he is shot down.
Just as he had described earlier the manner in which the burials of French Ace Guynemer and German Ace Baron von Richtofhen were marked with 'full military honours', so too was Lieutenant Quentin Roosevelt honoured inside German lines when buried, and again a few weeks later once the German lines had been over run.
If ever a 'great life' not lead could be hinted at, here is is. Close to his brothers and sisters, a keen and frequent letter writer, they are published here to give a remarkable insight to life behind the lines over the 11 month period he was there before his death.
 

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About the author (2008)

Kermit Roosevelt III is professor of law, University of Pennsylvania Law School, and author of the novel "In the Shadow of the Law," He lives in Philadelphia.

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