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Barnstormers and Speed Kings is one of twenty-three volumes in the Time-Life book series The Epic of Flight. This series traces the adventure and science of aviation, from the earliest manned balloon ascension through the era of jet flight. This volume is an overview of the early years of exhibition flying and air racing during the 1920s and 1930s. The book opens with a portrayal of the barnstormers and their daring and dangerous aerial antics; many barnstormers were pilots trained during World War I but did not see combat action. Flying circuses are covered in Chapter Two. The story of the Schneider Trophy (which was awarded to the fastest seaplane) is told in Chapter Three; this chapter is especially interesting and well-written. The National Air Races (and the Thompson and Bendix trophies) are covered in Chapter Four. The final chapter features the aerial racing exploits of Roscoe Turner and Jimmy Doolittle. As with other books in this series, numerous illustrations supplement the narrative. Posters from the National Air Races and paintings of important aircraft (such as the Curtiss R3C-2, Supermarine S.6B, Wedell-Williams 44, and Gee Bee R-1) are included. I did like this book a great deal but parts of the narrative seemed a bit uneven at times. Still, Barnstormers and Speed Kings is a great book about one of the more significant episodes in the epic of flight.
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