Summary and book reviews of Horses Don't Fly by Frederick Libby

Horses Don't Fly

By Frederick Libby

Horses Don't Fly
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  • Hardcover: Aug 2000,
    274 pages.
    Paperback: Jan 2002,
    288 pages.

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Book Summary

Written in 1961 and never before published, Horses Don't Fly is a coming of age story and a rare piece of Americana. Libby's memoir of his cowboy days in the last years of the Old West will remind readers of Cormac McCarthy's Border Trilogy - but it's the real thing. His description of World War I combines a rattling good account of the air war over France with captivating and sometimes poignant depiction of wartime London, the sorrow for friends lost in combat, and the courage and camaraderie of the Royal Flying Corps. From breaking wild horses in Colorado to fighting the Red Baron's squadrons in the skies over France, here in his own words is the true story of a forgotten American hero: the cowboy who became our first ace and the first pilot to fly the American colors over enemy lines.

Chapter Two
An Antelope, A Rope & A Small Boy

I look out my window to the stable where Bud's two cow ponies and Father's two fancy horses are quartered and to the corral where my two ponies are munching hay. I'm pretty proud of the whole affair, especially the three people downstairs. It is nine now and Sunday school starts at ten. Then church, where I am supposed to sing with he choir. Maybe something will happen before that.

Everything is ready, except Sally to brush my hair and put on the black ribbon tie, when I take a last look out the window. Here is something to gladden the heart of any small boy. On our lawn, eating our wonderful green grass, are five of the prettiest antelope I have ever seen. They evidently have just landed, because when I look out the window before, they were not there.

Three of the bunch I have seen before, the two little guys are new. The three largest ones were here in the winter looking for food on a day when there was a blizzard. ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews
Wall Street Journal - John Lehman

The popularity of PBS's Antiques Road Show-not to mention the existence of eBay-has sent Americans rooting around in their attics, and some great things are turning up. But none is likely to be quite like the jewel of a war memoir that Frederick Libby left behind upon his death in 1970. For years Libby's manuscript remained simply a treasured family possession. Then, luckily for us, someone had the idea of presenting it to a book publisher-for, as it happens, Capt. Libby of the Royal Flying Corps is a forgotten hero. He was the top American ace of World War I, having shot down 24 German airplanes. (Rickenbacher got 21 plus five balloons). The story he tells is a fascinating one. It is exciting, understated and humorous - an altogether charming read.

Washington Times - Ruth Farwell

Libby fought his war without rancor, figuring that the enemy shot at him to keep alive just as he shot at them and that both were young and caught up in something beyond understanding. It is impossible not to like him. A man without pretension, Libby (who died in 1970) wrote his story simply as if he had settled down to tell it, drink in hand. My advice is, join him. You'll have a wonderful time.

Author Blurb W.E.B.GRIFFIN, author of Brotherhood of War, The Corps, Men At War and Honor Bound Series.
The long overdue publication of Capt. Libby's memoir is a great event. His achievements spanned generations of American life, from his early ranching years to his legendary WWI flying career and his continuing work in aviation. More than a cowboy or a flying ace, Capt. Libby was a genuine American hero.

Author Blurb Clayton Reynolds, author of Franklin's Crossing and Players
Frederick Libby has a marvelous capacity for recalling specific details of his life as a horseman, aviator, soldier, and consummate citizen of the 20th century. His recollections stimulate anyone whose imagination takes free range and soars back over the past hundred years.

Author Blurb Winston Groom, author of Forrest Gump
Told in an often humorous voice in a pure American vernacular, Horses Don't Fly is, not only an important piece of previously unpublished history, but a gripping and uplifting story to read.

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