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Bomber Command: Reaping the Whirlwind [Hardcover]

Richard Overy

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Book Description

6 Oct 1997

Was the RAF’s bombing of German cities justifiable? Did it shorten the war, or were 55,000 aircrew sacrificed for nothing? Sixty years after its creation, RAF Bomber Command remains controversial. Bomber Command: Reaping the Whirlwind investigates the claims and counter-claims.

Over 80 Bomber Command veterans were interviewed for C4’s film Reaping the Whirlwind (first shown in October 1996). Dramatic eye witness testimony reveals what it was like to fly mission after mission over Germany when only one crew in ten survived to complete a tour of operations.
The first hand accounts are backed by an authoritative text by Professor Richard Overy (acclaimed author of Why the Allies Won and The Times Atlas of the 20th Century ). He assesses the importance of Bomber Command’s role in the defeat of Germany and the debate about the bombing of Dresden.
The combination of veterans’ testimony with the latest academic research will make Bomber Command the definitive account of Britain’s most controversial wartime campaign.

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From the Back Cover


After the fall of France, only RAF Bomber Command had the ability to carry the war to the enemy. Early attacks on Germany met with heavy losses but under the leadership of Sir Arthur Harris, Bomber Command grew into an enormous force, capable of launching 1000 bomber raids. Germany was forced to withdraw hundreds of thousands of personnel, fighter aircraft and heavy guns from other fronts to defend its industrial heartland. After the war, Harris was denied the peerage awarded to other service chiefs, and the men of Bomber Command were denied a campaign medal. In recent years, Bomber Command's campaign has been widely criticised and the unveiling of a statue of Harris provoked renewed controversy.

It is time to set the record straight. Here, the men who took part in the gigantic enterprise that was Bomber Command, speak for themselves. They reveal what it was like to take off for another mission over Germany, when the odds of surviving a tour of operations were less that 1 in 10. From hazardous training to special missions, to bailing out from a stricken bomber, Bomber Command investigates every aspect of the six year aerial campaign against the Third Reich.

In his accompanying text, Richard Overy describes how the bomber force evolved from the dark days of 1940 to the massed assault on Berlin. He assesses how far the bombing campaign contributed to the defeat of Nazi Germany. Did the sacrifice of 55,000 British, Commonwealth and Allied airmen shorten the war?

This book accompanies the documentary film 'Reaping the Whirlwind'. The film assesses the campaign waged by Sir Arthur 'Bomber' Harris, the Commander-in-Chief of Bomber Command against Germany's industrial cities. The programme is made up exclusively of unique, never-before-broadcast wartime archive film, including spectacular operational footage. The development of Bomber Command is traced from the brave but foolhardy early daylight raids to the devastating nightly assaults on the Nazi homeland. Also featured are interviews with RAF bomber aircrews and recently discovered, privately recorded interviews with Sir Arthur Harris. For the first time, Harris reveals his personal view of the bombing offensive and the political decisions that shaped his military actions, including the controversial raid on Dresden. The film is a Cinecam Productions documentary, produced and directed by Alex Beetham and is now available on video.

From 1940 to 1945 RAF Bomber Command attacked the industrial heartland of Germany. Daylight attacks were impossible in the face of German interceptors, so RAF aircrew had to learn to bomb by night. Anti-aircraft guns and night fighters, bad weather and sheer fatigue took a terrible toll: 55,000 RAF personnel lost their lives in the bombing campaign.

In 'Bomber Command' survivors of the RAF's longest campaign reveal what it was like to take off, knowing that the chance of completing a tour of operations was less that 1 in 10. They describe every aspect of the war from hazardous training flights to special missions, and how it felt to bail out from a stricken bomber over the Ruhr.

• Eyewitness accounts
• Accompanying narrative by professor Richard Overy
• Over 250 photographs

About the Author

Richard Overy is a leading authority in the field of modern history. He is Professor of Modern History at Exeter University, and is the general editor for the highly-acclaimed Times History of the World series of books.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Coffee Table book 21 July 1998
By A Customer - Published on
The photographic material, sideboxes and quotes alone are enough to make this book a 5 star rating; the actual book itself is revealing, involved but does not seem to dwell on individual topics for too long, leaving you feeling you "vaguely read something about that". The material is interesting, there could just have been a bit more of it.
However it offers a very interesting perspective, and the stories and quotes are very dramatic. It's a book you'll keep picking up, and whilst it seeks the truth about Bomber Command, it shows great respect for the men and women who's lives were given and lost in it's operation.
Couple this game with an online WWII simulation like iMagic Online's Warbirds, and it will give you a new insight into the aerial combat.
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