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Richard Hillary | The Last Enemy *30 copies left*

‘I caught him inland from Calais and was just about to open fire when I saw a squadron of twelve Messerschmitts coming in on my right . . .’

Richard Hillary was a charming, good-looking and rather arrogant young man, fresh from public school and Oxford, when, like many of his friends, he abandoned university to train as a pilot on the outbreak of war in 1939. At the flying training school, meeting men who hadn’t enjoyed the same gilded youth as he had, his view of the world, and of himself, began to change. In 1940, during the Battle of Britain, he shot down five German aircraft and was finally shot down in flames himself, sustaining terrible burns to his face and hands.

There followed months in hospital, where he underwent numerous operations to reconstruct his eyelids, lips and hands by the pioneering plastic surgeon Archibald McIndoe, struggled to come to terms with his defacing injuries, and heard almost daily of the deaths of his friends. He was 21 when, as a tribute to their courage, and as a kind of self-examination he began to write. The Last Enemy was published in 1942, seven months before his own death in a second air crash, after he had, unbelievably, persuaded the authorities to let him fly again, though he could scarcely hold a knife and fork. With its raw honesty, lack of self-pity and its gripping and terrifying accounts of aerial combat and the psychological aftermath, his book is a wartime classic, the harrowing story of a carefree young man who, like many others, was suddenly and cruelly forced to grow up.

With 30 copies remaining of our limited-edition hardback of this gripping tale, we hope you will enjoy the following extract and perhaps be tempted to add Richard Hillary’s classic memoir to your bookshelves – either as a single title, in one of our book bundles or perhaps even as part of our delicious Collectors’ Bundle of all available SF Editions – before it’s gone.

With best wishes, as ever, from the SF staff
Jess, Isabel, Rebecca, Izzy & Jennie

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