As an avid reader of first hand combat accounts I have to place this book at the very top of the pile. Gibson's book is simply stunning.
The immense power of this book lies in the story of unbelievable courage shown by the men of bomber command. Gibson takes us through the early days of the war, the tragic waste of the skilled aircrews thrown away in obsolete planes and flawed tactics, the tremendous spirit shown by these young men in the face of almost inevitable death and the deep sadness of seeing their comrades lost with such regularity.
After defying the odds and completing one tour of duty, Gibson transfers to night fighters rather than resting, before going back for another tour on 'heavies' and eventually forming and leading the elite 617 squadron on the famous Dams raid.
Yes it is jingoistic, yes it is bullish, what else could it be from a warrior and leader of this nature? Indeed, it is these traits that give us great insight into the prevailing feelings and attitudes of the men involved that make first hand accounts so valuable in our assessment of history. We should be thankful that this document encapsulating the spirit of the aircrew was written by one of their greatest leaders before he too gave his life to the cause.
Technical details are necessarily censored from a book written at the height of the hostilities but this in no way detracts. Those interested can easily fill in the blanks through reading books such as Max Hastings' 'Bomber Command' or Paul Brickhill's 'Dam Busters'.
After reading this book maybe a dozen times over the last 35 years, I recommend it unreservedly to all.