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Publisher's Summary

Pierre Clostermann DFC was one of the oustanding Allied aces of the Second World War. A Frenchman who flew with the RAF, he survived over 420 operational sorties, shooting down scores of enemy aircraft while friends and comrades lost their lives in the deadly skies above Europe. 

The Big Show, his extraordinary account of the war, has been described as the greatest pilot's memoir of WWII.

©1948, 2008 Flammmarion (P)2020 Tantor

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What listeners say about The Big Show

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Simply one of the best all time books on air combat ever written.

I was stoked to see The Big Show was coming out on Audible. I’ve probably read this book 6-7 times in my life. I’m half way through it and have to say, hearing it told is even more exciting and intense then reading it. The reader does a great job. If you love dog fights and flying you HAVE to get this one. Trust me. You will not regret it.

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Finally in Audible

My father gave me a tattered copy of this book in the mid 1990’s. I’ve read it 4 times and at last, listened via Audible. The narrator sounds exactly as I imagined when I read the book.

The best fighter pilot memoir ever. Enjoy!

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Stunning Fighter Pilot story.

Clostermann was one of the few to live thru nearly two years of fighter combat and to recount his journey in a beautifully worded narrative. Almost unbelievable what these men were called to do, most never coming back. I’m an Air Force pilot and can understand what it took Fly these missions and it is a fearful prospect, even to imagine being on his wing.
A Must read for any current or future combat pilot.

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What a Beautiful written novel

One of the best aviation novels I’ve ever read beautifully read highly recommend this to aviation and history buffs.

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must read

this book is conversational and put you right in the cockpit. as someone who has red more than 200 books on World War II Aviation I highly recommend this one. And the performance is one of the best on Audible

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One of the best war books I ever read/heard.

This book was gripping, moving and lyrical. I really felt like I had gone through the war with the author. I felt the enthusiasm and excitement of the early days. Then I felt the increasing tension, dread and sadness of the last days of the war as the author’s squadron was relentlessly thrown into combat against a still potent Luftwaffe. Excellent book.

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Good narrative, sketchy facts

Good first-person narrative, interesting to follow a French fighter pilot serving with the RAF. The author needed to do a little more research, however, as he gets many facts wrong about the overall air war going on at the time.

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fantastic

amazing book especially if you like ww2 aircraft stuff otlr just ww2 in general, this guy is very descriptive and good at painting a picture in your head

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Excellent story, Perfect performance.

One of the best books I've read and heard on this topic and period. The narration was excellent and the writer captured his life in the conflict in such a clear way, Putting you right in the cockpit with him, HIGHLY recommend.

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Excellent WW2 Fighter Pilot Story

Read this book a few times from an early age, the Audiobook version is excellent and well read. Great story of a Frenchman who joins the RAF in WW2 and flies Spitfires and Hawker Tempests throughout the war, into France and Germany after D Day. Excellent narration, and Pierre Clostermann liberally sprinkles the story with some technical descriptions and the personal side of flying in WW2. A must have for any history buff.

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  • Mandy
  • 03-25-21

Brilliant

First read in the 70's, this book remains a thrilling story of bravery and courage, of loss, success and the endeavours of many airmen. an insight into the dangers, the power and abilities of the pilots and their aircraft, some of the sensations flying fighter planes. A recommended read (or listen).

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-04-21

Quite amazing

Having downloaded a few duds recently my heart sank when in the preface it said this was a list of engagements based on his diaries and not a work of literature. The former may be true, that latter not.
This is superbly written and in parts very moving. The normal exciting stuff is all captured but blended with a clear communication of the immense skill needed to fly these complicated machines, map read and command your fellow pilots.
He is quite unashamed to make clear that by the end of the war he was a nervous wreck but the juxtaposition with the final scene, as he flys alone high in the sky, shows what an emotional experience war can be.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-24-22

Brilliant account of air combat in WWII

I have read a lot of WWII fighter pilot accounts but, along with "First Light" by Geoffrey Wellum, this is one of the best. I read it in paperback format years ago and it has lost none of its impact over the years. It is full of action with an excellent, and easy to understand, level of technical detail and is full of emotion, too. A fantastic read, and highly recommended.

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  • GC
  • 03-03-22

It’s as if you were there

Having personal experience of the locations on both sides of the channel I could better experience the drama of this pilots struggle. The communication is exemplary in both expression and narration. Having listened to several audible books in this genre I am always in awe of the portrayal of courage whilst facing constant and indomitable fear, loss and death.

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  • Dave
  • 02-07-22

Highly recommended! Incredible story, fitting narrator but iffy narration

This is, and has been for a long time, one of my all-time favourite books, and I’ve been waiting years to enjoy it again in a new way through Audible.

The story is an amazing and comprehensive overview of being a fighter pilot in world war two. This really covers everything - the adventure, the grief, the exhaustion, logistical and organisational issues, it really feels like everything a fighter pilot could have faced. Whilst Pierre does come off as egotistical sometimes when claiming personal successes, he is otherwise a very humble author and it’s a pleasure to read, or now hear, his experiences.

The narrator for this particular version clearly is a skilled narrator, and he lends appropriate emotion and feeling to Pierre’s experiences. However, some research was clearly lacking on his part and it leads to jarring errors and weird edits or changes in articulation mid sentence some times - these range from the minor niggle of inconsistent pronunciation of aircraft numbers (e.g. Me262 is pronounced two-six-two, two hundred and sixty two, and two-sixty-two at various different points) to the totally jarring, e.g.. the misreading of ‘angels’ (wartime code for altitude in thousands of feet) as ‘angles’ for the first half of the book (oddly, in the second half it is pronounced correctly).

As a story teller playing the role of Pierre he does a great job, but for a book regularly considered one of the real classics and so loved by me and many other fans of this genre, I really wish it had been given more research by the narrator and better editing afterwards to create a more accurate and consistent presentation.

Still, it’s nothing that can’t be got through for such a genuinely fantastic book. Highly recommend to any fan of the genre or even anyone with a casual interest in the topic or period.

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  • Ms. Rebecca D. Lockyer
  • 02-02-22

Thank you

An amazing account of what must have been a terrifying time for anyone.

Thank you Peirre for telling the story of the brave Airmen who risked it all to bring peace.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-03-22

Exceptional

If you are an aviation enthusiast, then this book is simply a must! An amazing set of tales told brilliantly. Enthralling, exhilarating and poignant.

Can’t recommend it enough.

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  • Ainsley jones
  • 11-11-21

Gripping detail

I listened and found myself in awe of the men flying these machines. The vivid and graphic descriptions of air combat doesn’t spare any detail and rightly so, very good book to educate and entertain on WW2 air combat.

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  • Russell Varney
  • 10-19-21

The best fighter pilot memoir

I read this many years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it and have now also enjoyed having it read to me.
You are right there in the cockpit with Pierre Clostermann, reliving every excitement and terror. A riveting read.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-14-21

Great book, poor narration

Such a great memoir, narration doesn’t do it justice.
No pauses between chapters. Intonation quite flat. Place names mispronounced. Doesn’t sound like it’s had a proper check before release.

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  • B. Hestelow
  • 09-19-21

The Big Show

Very interesting recounting of this brave Pilots experiences in War

What a incredable generation , We owe them a great deal

At times though i found myself drifting off but this is probably just me rather than the book itself

Reccomended Listening

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  • A. Bartlett
  • 05-25-21

Excellent recount of Ariel combat

loved every minute of this book, highly recommended!
superbly written & told, with excellent narrative.

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  • Hamish
  • 05-24-21

Fast paced, exciting and sobering.

Super fast paced,and well written account of aerial combat in WW2. What a bleak lot. I had no idea Typhoon/Tempest losses were so high. Huge respect to these pilots.

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  • James Gilbert
  • 05-10-21

Big show big story

Great book. great first person account of his air war. Especially te section during the last days of the war.

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  • Weatherby George
  • 04-20-21

Amazing story

Riveting stuff, beautifully told. Puts you right in the pilots seat with graphic scene and action descriptions

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-26-21

Great Insight

I would put this on par with the audio book "Race of Aces".
It is refreshing to hear the story of a French pilot during the war and his tales are detailed.
The speaker's delivery was good and I didn't find myself bored or uninterested because of him.

The only fault is that I wanted to hear more.