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Bomber Boys: Fighting Back 1940-1945 Hardcover – 2 Apr 2007

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: HarperPress; UNKNOWN edition (2 April 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007189869
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007189861
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 24.2 x 4.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 210,496 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Patrick Bishop has been a foreign correspondent for over twenty years, reporting from conflicts all over the world. He is the author of the critically acclaimed and bestselling 'Fighter Boys', 'Bomber Boys' and '3 Para'.

Product Description


‘Deeply humane, lucidly written and powerful…Bishop, a war correspondent, has a keen eye for the stresses and strains of the job these boys did…All this bravery, and the way of life that supported it, are faithfully recorded in Bishop’s refreshingly unpretentious account.’ Michael Burleigh, Sunday Times

‘This is the best kind of military history – the kind in which the author never loses sight of the impact of war on its victims, German as well as British, and those who were left behind. “Bomber Boys” will remind the survivors that they and their lost comrades are not forgotten. And it reminds the rest of us what their war was all about.’ Daniel Johnson, Evening Standard

‘This is a terrific book, so riveting, exciting and moving that it must help bring back the Bomber Boys to their rightful place of honour. A true war memorial.’ Montagu Curzon, Spectator

‘A compelling account of life in RAF Bomber Command…[Bishop] covers every aspect of their lives…as he tells their stories, he keeps hold of the strategy that led these men to be flying in the first place.’ Telegraph

‘Wonderfully sensitive and sympathetic…Bishop has produced a superb human portrait of the men who did so many remarkable things over Germany…this book is a fitting memorial to their sacrifice, and an admirably judicious verdict on the successes and failures of the bomber offensive.’ Daily Mail

‘Bishop narrates with the combination of cool curiosity and warm engagement common to the best foreign correspondents (a category to which, of course, he belongs)…Above all, he reveals how humanity stubbornly survives even within inhumanity…May Patrick Bishop’s moving, sensitively written book gain many readers.’ Frederick Taylor, Literary Review

‘Within a clear history and analysis of the big picture is a testimony to the dangers, sacrifices and heroics of the Bomber Boys.’ Daily Mail

‘This book is…a tribute to the courage of the “Bomber Boys” themselves. It is not only persuasively argued but also thrilling and in places profoundly moving.’ Daily Express

‘I closed the book feeling a great flood of pity for both the bombed and the bombers. There is no contradiction: both were the sacrificial victims of war…as in all good books, it is the details that stick in the mind.’ Mail on Sunday

‘Brings vividly to life the experiences of the nearly half million people who served in Bomber Command…makes superb use of interviews with veterans, but also covers the strategic and moral issues with admirable objectivity and clarity.’ The Times

‘Bishop builds up an intimate day-to-day portrait of life in Bomber Command, through an extensive series of interviews…superbly written and authoritative…the members of Bomber Command now have a fitting commenmoration of their heroic deeds.’ The Observer

From the Back Cover

In ‘Fighter Boys’ Patrick Bishop brought to life the pilots who flew Spitfires and Hurricanes in the summer of 1940. Their skill and bravery decided the Battle of Britain, which saved the nation from invasion and created the conditions for Hitler's defeat.

In ‘Bomber Boys’ he tells a different but equally fascinating story. The 125,000 men from all over the world who passed through Bomber Command were engaged in a form of warfare that had never been fought before and never would be again. Between 1940 and 1945 they flew continuously, stopping only when weather made operations impossible. For much of that time they were the only warriors capable of hitting Germany in its own territory. There was nothing romantic about their struggle. Often barely out of boyhood they lived on bleak bases, flying at night on long, nerve-racking missions that often ended in death. The odds of surviving were stacked heavily against them. In all 55,000 were killed, nearly one in ten of all the British and Commonwealth dead.

Despite these sacrifices, the Bomber Boys have remained on the edges of our collective memory of the war. When the fighting stopped they became something of a a political embarrassment. Their actions have been the subject of a controversy that continues to the present, obscuring not only the losses they suffered but also the courage, comradeship and fortitude with which they fought.

In this powerful and moving book Patrick Bishop describes compellingly the character, feelings and motivations of the bomber crews and pays tribute to their heroism and determination. They were among the best of their generation, who were called on to carry out one of the grimmest duties of the Second World War. ‘Bomber Boys’ brilliantly restores these men to their rightful place in our consciousness.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Mitchell on 18 Oct. 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As an ex Bomber Boy this book is first class and shows the modern youth how we responded to the threat of Nazi domination and despite the denigration of our efforts by modern 'hindsight' historians, most young people I have met do not look upon us as 'terrorists'. I for one have faith in our 21st century young men that they would respond as we did in 1943/45.
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Mr X on 4 Jun. 2008
Format: Paperback
This book is the best book I have read so far this year.

It describes the strategic air war against Germany by the RAF in the Second World War. That description makes it sound maybe a bit dry and academic but it is far from being either of those things! It tells the story of this chapter in the war from a very human point of view. For example, there are chapters describing the airmen's training, lives at their bases, their motivation, how they dealt with the fear of being killed whilst carrying out operation over Europe at night and many other highly interesting aspects of the lives of these remarkable men.

The book also describes the strategy behind the bombing of Germany, from the beginning to the end of the war and gives a good insight into the main commanders - people such as Charles Portal and Bomber Harris.

The story told in these pages is often very moving and I once I had finished the book I thought about it for a long time afterwards, quite unlike other books I have read. I felt great sympathy for all the men of Bomber Command, which has never had the vital role it played in World War II properly publicly acknowledged. I hope that this book will cause many to ask why this is so and perhaps focus efforts to have a permanent memorial specific to these men built, and to have this done before the last of them die and they recede from living memory.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 1 May 2003
Format: Hardcover
Luckily enough i procured a copy of this book in advance of official publication and am glad i did so. I have read dozens of books on the great aerial conflict known as the Battle of Britain and thought there was no more to say on the subject. How wrong I was! Mr Bishop has dug deep into the subject and has found all sorts of new things shedding new and unimagined light upon the battle that saved Britain from the Nazi invaders. He hails the young pilots who fought so bravely. He does not fall into the common trap of lauding them as unblemished heroes (no heroines in the skies in those days!). He says many were ordinary and flawed though also undoubtedly they were brave. He pours scorn on the myths regarding their foes, the Germans, saying they too deserve credit. There is so much to enjoy here. Mr Bishop conjures up the fear and excitement of battle. He evokes the smell of combat and the relief when crews sat down in their Messes to tuck into a good old fashioned English supper of egg,chips and baked beans. This book is not for the faint hearted. He pulls no punches.
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83 of 88 people found the following review helpful By john wills on 10 April 2007
Format: Hardcover
One word sums up this book: magnificent. It is history of the highest calibre. It is thoroughly researched and written with sensitivity and great style. It is a fitting memorial to the thousands of brave young men of Bomber Command who gave their lives in the cause of freedom. For too long have these men been forgotten and often reviled. Mr Bishop's brilliant book is a long overdue reminder that they deserve to be revered as much as the heroes of Fighter Command.
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50 of 54 people found the following review helpful By M. W. Withnall on 12 April 2007
Format: Hardcover
I thought fighter Boys was excellent, this is as good, this book gives a human perspective to the men who flew every night over Germany in the second world war, they have been largley forgotten by history and of late unfairly maligned. I would not have been brave enough to do what they did night after night with apalling losses. I have had this book 3 days and have not put it down I cannot recommend it highly enough, if you are interested in well written history buy it !
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Mark Davison on 1 Jun. 2008
Format: Paperback
Bomber Boys brought tears to my eyes. It is a movingly written record and assessment of the horrors that aircrew endured during World War II. My father - a navigator in a 44 Squadron Lancaster - had told me on many occasions about his war service and I understood something of the difficulties. However, it was only by reading this book that one can put into perspective the terrible loss, the low chances of survival as well as the physical and mental strain of missions.
Nor does the book shirk from the real moral ambiguities of the campaign and follows through to officialdom's post-war embarrassment of their role. The book fills in many of the gaps that I did not appreciate when talking to my father and allows me now to understand how truly heroic his and his fellow aircrewmen's contribution was. I only wish that my father could have survived a couple more years to have enjoyed reading it.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Benjamin Girth VINE VOICE on 24 Dec. 2009
Format: Hardcover
Opposite my house (20km South of Dijon, Burgundy) past the war memorial in the village cemetery lie the crew of a Short Sterling shot down on the 13th August 1943 by a Messerschmitt 109.

· Pilot: Pilot Officer Frederick MATTHEWS Royal Australian Air Force, 25 years old
· Bombardier: Flight Officer Franck HOLLAND Royal Australian Fleet Reserve, 32 years old
· Navigator: Flight Sergeant Alistair ROSE Royal New Zealand Air Force, 20 years old
· Gunner: Flight Sergeant Albert HARRIS Royal New Zealand Air Force, 23 years old
· Radio officer: Sergeant Kennet CORK Royal Air Force, 21 years old
· Mechanic: Sergeant John KNIGHT Royal Air Force, 27 years old
· Gunner: Sergeant Henry OTT Royal Air Force, 19 years old

The book succinctly details the strategy and tactics of the bombing campaign. It is an explanation not a justification - none is needed - where the sheer terror of the aircrews experience is equalled by the horror of those beneath the bombs. Bishop presents the mass of data well. He gives a balanced account of Anglo American strategic goals/arguments and his comments on Dresden were reasoned. Before that he explains how aircrew found love, and what happened to the WRAF who fell for a married Wing Commander. What emerges are stories, how crews were recruited, trained, commanded and lived. This book is rich in detail, about people rather than military technology or command and control structures.

Bishop allows us to understand the most controversial aspect of the bombing campaign in Europe. After the war there was little recognition for those engaged in the bomber offensive, ineffective and savage the politicians preferred to ignore those who had participated.
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