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March 21, 1993|CHARLES SOLOMON

LEGEND, MEMORY AND THE GREAT WAR IN THE AIR by Dominick A. Pisano, Thomas J. Dietz, Joanne M. Gerstein and Karl S. Schneide (University of Washington Press: $18.95; 144 pp., paperback original). Popular novels ("The Lone Eagle Fighting Ace"), films ("Wings") and Snoopy's ongoing battle with the Red Baron have spawned a romantic legend of valiant heroes dueling in the skies of Europe. The authors of this handsome study prove that legend is untrue: A carefully coordinated team effort, rather than personal bravado, won the war in the air. The various essays trace the origins and manifestations of the legend in America and Germany in an enlightening exercise in historical debunking.

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