RIO GRANDE — University of Rio Grande Professor of History Dr. Samuel J. Wilson’s new book, “Bill Lambert: World War I Flying Ace,” is on its way to a bookshelf near you.
To commemorate this achievement, Wilson will be meeting community members at several book signings this month. The book signings are scheduled for Unger’s Shoe Store in Ironton from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 10, Bossard Memorial Library in Gallipolis at 1 p.m. Sept. 11, Briggs Lawrence County Library in Ironton at 1 p.m. Sept. 23, and Empire Books in Huntington at 5 p.m. Sept. 30 for a television interview.
Wilson will also be a guest lecturer at the Cabell County Public Library’s Ohio River Festival of Books at 7 p.m. Sept. 29.
Wilson calls World War I fighter pilot and Ironton native William “Bill” C. Lambert a man, “who lived on the edge of greatness, but could never quite get there.” The biography gives a scholarly examination of Lambert’s entire life. Wilson said he wanted to show the life of a distinct individual who took part in a war that destroyed individuality.
“The war defined him for the rest of his life,” Wilson said. “He did not consider himself a hero, but was someone who wanted to learn how to fly, and the Great War gave him the opportunity. Little did he know that his brief stint in the war would shape his life.”
Wilson’s book of the World War I ace’s life coincides with the renewed interested in the Great War due to the upcoming centennial end of the historic event. The local ace served as a fighter pilot in the Royal Air Force in The Great War from late March to mid-August 1918. Wilson’s biography draws from a variety of sources, including personal letters from fellow pilots, government documents, library holdings, telegrams, flight logs, national archives and museum holdings.
“These sources, along with personal interviews conducted over the past 12 years, help to capture the essence of the man and his lifetime,” Wilson said. “As an individual and pilot, Lambert symbolically represented the new face of war in the 20th century.”
Wilson said he is thankful for the support of his colleagues at Rio and the Ironton community who helped make the book possible. He will be adding more dates and locations to his book-signing schedule in the upcoming weeks.