By: Floyd Gibbons
Garden City Publishing (1927)
While certainly not a new book, this one will give you an insight into Manfred von Ricthofen that very few other books on the man could. It’s precisely because it was written and published less than a decade after the First World War ended that it can give such insights.
The author, Floyd Gibbons (1887-1939), worked as a war correspondent for the Chicago Tribune. Gibbons was known for a dramatic and detailed writing style, and it shows in this book. Having witnessed the conflict first hand and lived in a time when access to veterans of the conflict with still fresh memories could be found, Gibbons could write this book with an immediacy that later books on the subject lack.
Additionally, Gibbons had access to Ricthofen’s mother and the museum she had constructed in the family home in memory of her son after the conflict. The Ricthofen family home in Poland still stands today, but the museum was dismantled just prior to the Second World War and many parts of it’s collection went to other museums around the world or are still unaccounted for.
The book contains recollections of men who fought the Red Baron and lived to tell their tales as well as those of men who served alongside the man and remember him as a commander or squadron mate. Excerpts of his own letters home to his mother are also frequent in the book.
The book does get a little dry in places, but overall it gives anyone with an interest in the man or First World War air combat a rather unique perspective on both.