The Airship Boys in the Great War, published in 1915, is the eighth and final book in the “Airship Boys” series of aerial adventures. In this installment, the Airship Boys learn that a reporter friend has been held as a suspected spy in Germany at the outbreak of the first World War. They decide to use their high-speed aircraft, The Ocean Flyer, to rescue him, since the United States itself will not intervene due to its neutral position in the conflict.
This is a book of high adventure, without much regard to logic or plotting. The boys go from one incident to another as they explore the war zone, rescue their friend, and try to get home. As with many of the other juvenile war stories of the period, this book offers a glimpse into the way the conflict was represented to children.
While official American neutrality was still in full effect when the book was published, the author’s opinions certainly seem to show through in a few places. Paranoia about a German spy network operating in America is on full display here, and the book seems at least a little scornful of the neutral position, given that the plot involves the boys defying the American government to fulfill their mission. At the same time, the book glorifies the soldiers and emperor of Austria during its latter half.
If you are interested in taking a closer look at this small piece of history, the full text of the book can be read online or downloaded in popular eBook formats through Project Gutenberg.