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A witty, tragi-comic tale debunking Bomber Command myths
on 8 October 2002
"Damned Good Show" explores the story of the fictional 409 Squadron RAF between the outbreak of war in 1939 and the end of Bomber Command's "learning" period, summer 1941. It covers the initial Phoney War leafleting, "Gardening" mine-dropping missions, and the commencement of more dangerous missions over Germany.
In this book Robinson attempts to do for Bomber Command what he did so brilliantly for Fighter Command in his novel "Piece of Cake" - strip away the legend and myth, and tell the story of ordinary young men in extraordinary circumstances. Readers familiar with Robinson's work will recognise at once his brisk, witty style. Conversation is a particular strength, as is his grasp of historical fact and the lengths to which he goes to get the details right, so that one can almost sit in the cockpit and sense what went through the minds of those men. That in my opinion he does not quite match the power of "Piece of Cake" is testament to its brilliance, rather than any detriment to this work, which is still a very good book.
Whilst being a good length, it is not as long as "Piece of Cake" or "A Good Clean Fight", which disappoints only in that the reader wants more. It also takes a little longer to get going than those two books, possibly due to the nature of the war at that time (which didn't really take off until May 1940). However readers of Robinson's other two WWII books will be pleased to see the reappearance, half way through the book, of a character familiar to them from those works, and who is up to his usual tricks of getting up the noses of Senior Officers by telling the truth, rather than what they want to hear.
This book is a wellcome addition to the library of anyone who enjoys intelligent, suprising, and witty fiction, and who wants to understand how Bomber Command's 1939-1941 experiences shaped the later Strategic Bombing Campaign.
Very highly recommended.