Aero-Neurosis: Pilots of the First World War and the Psychological Legacies of Combat.

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Author: Steve Agoratus
Date: Fall 2020
From: Air Power History(Vol. 67, Issue 3)
Publisher: Air Force Historical Foundation
Document Type: Article
Length: 879 words
Lexile Measure: 1170L

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Aero-Neurosis: Pilots of the First World War and the Psychological Legacies of Combat. By Mark C. Wilkins. Havertown, Penn.: Pen and Sword, 2019. Photographs. Bibliography. Notes. Pp. 162. $39.95. ISBN: 978-1-52672-312-3

This groundbreaking book explores the effects of combat fatigue on World War I fighter aces Elliot White Springs, William Lambert, Roy Brown, Ernst Udet, "Mick" Mannock, and Georges Guynemer. Wilkins exploits official records and personal correspondence to recount the painstaking efforts of doctors, military leadership, and the pilots themselves to recognize symptoms and develop treatments for what they dubbed "aero-neurosis." A prolific World War I military aviation historian, Wilkins writes authoritatively of air combat strategies, tactics, aircraft, and aces. He avoids jargon and complicated medical theories, letting the story unfold in lively, unfettered combat accounts that make gripping reading.

The first few chapters outline the birth of combat aviation as part of the maturation of warfighting technology that characterized World War I. Aerial warfare-induced combat fatigue was a novel phenomenon that took time to identify and treat. Military commanders wrestled with notions of cowardice vs. bravery. Physicians prescribed rest. Combatants tried to relieve stress through hobbies, leaves, and writing correspondence and diaries. They affected an air of jaunty cheer and bonded with fellow pilots experiencing the same horrors. In what now is recognized as a classic psychological indicator,...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A660176530