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Finest Hour: The bestselling story of the Battle of Britain [Kindle Edition]

Phil Craig , Tim Clayton
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £11.99
Kindle Price: £5.03 includes VAT* & free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet
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Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
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Book Description

Seventy years ago, Europe lay at Hitler's feet. Britain faced its darkest hour - outnumbered and friendless as the German army continued its advance. Defeat or capitulation seemed inevitable. But instead a legend was born.

Taking its readers on a breathtaking journey from open lifeboats in Atlantic gales to the cockpits of burning fighter-planes, and through cities devastated by the Blitz, FINEST HOUR recreates the terror, the tragedy and the triumph of the Battle of Britain.

This powerful account of the events of 1940 is told through the voices, diaries, letters and memoirs of the men and women who lived, loved, fought and died during this terrible yet inspiring year.

FINEST HOUR blends original historical research with the experiences of ordinary people in desperate times. Cutting through the nostalgic haze, this book enables readers to experience a time - still within living memory - when a nations's darkest hour became its finest.

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Amazon Review

A defeated, retreating British Expeditionary Force, the miraculous evacuation at Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain, the evacuation to America and the Blitz. You couldn't make the story of 1940 dull if you tried. But even the best material has to be threaded into a manageable narrative and Tim Clayton and Phil Craig don't disappoint.Finest Hour is never less than engaging and frequently does rather better. On the jacket blurb, Clayton & Craig seem keen to establish their bona fides as heavyweight historians and claim to have uncovered a "fresh and controversial" account of the political intrigues and betrayals of the period. There's actually nothing really controversial on offer--at least nothing that hasn't been aired elsewhere. If this comes as a disappointment to the authors, it needn't to the reader because we are left with something just as, if not more, valuable, namely an accessible layperson's ride through the political and military manoeuvrings.

Clayton and Craig are particularly good at guiding us through the early days of Churchill's premiership. Read most populist accounts and you would imagine that the moment Churchill took office the bulldog spirit took over and we plucky Brits stood resolute. Not so. The case for appeasement was still being made within the Cabinet up until the evacuation of Dunkirk, as Lord Halifax had a great deal of support for his conciliatory views. Bizarrely, the thing that ultimately counted against him was his title as it was felt the Upper House should not hold sway over the Commons. Where this book excels, though, is in the quality of its eyewitness testimonies. Many books have previously used this technique of threading narrative with the first person but few have found such eloquent speakers. Most eyewitnesses fudge the difficult bits with remarks like, "It was hell". Clayton and Craig's witnesses don't pull their punches. We hear of one Brit who shot a German officer in cold blood and had nightmares for ages afterwards. We hear of the sailor who saw his gunner decapitated. We experience the stench of burnt flesh following the shelling of an ambulance. In short, we are spared nothing. It may not be comfortable reading but you can't ignore it. 60 years after the men and women in these pages fought and died, there's a tendency for the rest of us to take the freedom they gave us for granted. They deserve a better memorial than a slow fading into nothingness. This book ensures they get it. --John Crace


"'Craig digs beneath the time-worn legend of stiff-upper-lip. English pluckiness to show a far more complex, more human and more moving picture of the human spirit under stress. An intriguing collection of Britons, rich and poor, give vivid, wonderfully told examples of cowardice becoming valor, of shrapnel-swapping among blitz-happy schoolboys, of a summer of exceptional natural beauty and obscenely unnatural death... The BBC have... rarely produced any finer hours than these.' - Washington Post"

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1503 KB
  • Print Length: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (30 Aug. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008K5TFLW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • : Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #225,033 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Magnificent 3 Sept. 2001
By A Customer
I bought this book expecting it to be a rather dry historical overview of the Battle of Britain, concerned with numbers, dates and what Churchill said to whom. Instead I discovered an intensive social history of the ordinary men and women who served in and were concerned with the Fall of France and the Battle of Britain. Soldiers catapulted from the lull of "Phony War" to savage combat in France and Belgium as a result of the 1940 German offensive; RAF pilots who fought bravely but where overwhelmed in the skies of France; the sailors who assisted in the evacuation of Dunkirk; the secretarial staff of Winston Churchill; American war correspondents observing the first German bombing raids from the Cliffs of Dover; again the brave and determined RAF pilots flying and fighting over their native soil; WAAF radar plotters assisting the pilots seek their targets; civillians whose lives were shattered by the intensive terror bombing of London; child evacuees on their ill fated trip to Canada and Royal Navy personnel escorting the convoys to and from a beseiged Britain all have their stories told here. The writing is urgent and immediate, it makes one feel that the Battle of Britain occurred only a couple of years ago rather than sixty. I found this book so compelling I read it from cover to cover in two sittings within 24 hours. As a result of this book I have discovered a newfound respect for Winston Churchill, who led Britain and inspired the Dominions of the British Empire through what was our darkest, yet finest hour.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling History and Characters 26 Sept. 2002
I am not a prolific reader, the books I read have to go at a pace for me to stay the course. The huge disadvantage of this lack of staying power is that I very rarely finish a book and feel any sense of achievement.
This book, and its sequel The End of The Beginning, have both proved to be rare examples where I have felt that I have learnt something while being thoroughly entertained.
For me, this comes from the characters around which the history is recounted. Both these books cover events that have been the subject of TV and film dramatisation but these used characters created around Hollywood stars or English character actors. The people who provided so much of the material for the books were involved in the war in the ranks, at home and in command. The stories they told to the authors during the years of research bring a powerful reality to the fighting and the hardships the endured.
There is a spitfire pilot who falls in love while struggling to match the victories of his fellow heroes. There is a soldier wounded while trying to hold back the German army in a French cemet factory, a family trapped by the blitz in the East-end of London and a naval rating dealing with the aftermath of surving the sinking of his ship at Dunkirk. The book brings their fears to life as well as their remarkable resolve to carry on their fight, to survive, to win.
This book has not changed my view of WW2 but it has made me painfully aware of how much it dominated the lives of civilians and the Forces. I was greatly moved by parts of the book.
This is a great book. I doubt anyone will start this book and not finish it - and they will be glad that they did.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This book draws largely on the experiences of many civilians, sailors, soldiers and pilots from the british armed forces before and during the battle of britain. Its a great book because it allows the people who were there to tell the story of what happened to them, making it very personal while at the same time giving a big picture of what was happening by drawing on the experiences of so many people at the time. Any british person should read this to learn a bit about this countries heritage and any historian or anyone with just a mild interest in ww2 should read this. Be warned its not an action book buts it goes far deeper than that with many moving pieces which can make this a very emotional book, i know of one veteran who after reading this broke down in tears as it brought is own memories back.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Story! 19 Oct. 2000
Having read many other accounts of the Battle of Britain I was unsure if this book would be able to offer anything new to the current literature. Well I was wrong, this story, presented by many of the participants, civilians, sailors, soldiers and airmen, was excellent. The authors let the people who experienced this terrible and also great time in their history tell the story.
The book starts in France at the commencement of the German invasion and follows a number of the characters through the fall of France, the start of the aerial fighting over England to the end of the Battle of Britain. The story is told from the English side with no accounts from any of the German participants but the title does say 'Finest Hour', which should give you an idea, what the book is about anyhow.
I found two of the stories quite sad, one involving the German bombing of a school in London that resulted in numerous civilian casualties and how the authorities solved the dilemma of identify and processing the bodies. Another story detailed the sinking of the British liner 'City of Benares' which was carrying over 90 children being sent to Canada so as to be safe from the nighttime Blitz against London.
I also found the story of the machinations between Churchill and Roosevelt over American aid to Britain during this period very interesting as was the account of the destruction of the French Fleet and their small victory later on against the British Fleet at Dakar.
Overall this is an interesting account of this pivotal period in England's history during World War Two. I am sure that many readers will find the human stories interesting and I doubt that any student of World War Two will not find something new and interesting in this account.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
You will not put this down! Great read and a testimony to those who fought in Britain's finest hour and kept going regardless.
Published 2 days ago by Matt Hillman
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read, on my husband's recommendation!!
This was bought on my husband's recommendation for his cousin (70th) who is interested in all things about the Wars. We've not heard anything so may be this is a good thing!!
Published 11 days ago by Samantha J Ramskill
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Superb book, highly recommendable.
Price for kindle, excellent
Published 1 month ago by philshop
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book.
Gripping & unputdownable!
Published 6 months ago by sally ward
5.0 out of 5 stars Finest hour
Fantastic book,best battle of Britain book I ever read,read it 5 6 time's now never fails to impress me,roll on the next one
Published 8 months ago by MICHAEL PIDGEON
5.0 out of 5 stars The Peoples 'Battle for Britain'
I bought this book for my son as I already have a copy when it was first published. This is a tie-in with the BBC TV Series from the late nineties and tells the story from ordinary... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Michael C.
5.0 out of 5 stars No action heroes but it gives a real sense of what it must have been...
no actors .. just film from the time and soldiers re-enacting their roles while still in Europe after the war. Read more
Published 12 months ago by A. R. J. Penny
4.0 out of 5 stars A different prism
An easy to read book which looks at perhaps one of the most important battles in history through the eyes of those who participated in and witnessed it. Read more
Published 21 months ago by andrew melvin
4.0 out of 5 stars Not what i thought it would be...
i just picked up the book from my twin sister, who picked it up from the school library...
i started readiung and... Read more
Published on 2 Nov. 2012 by Xanthe Haughton
5.0 out of 5 stars A Book of Immense Charm
This is a delightful book of immense charm . The authors tell compelling tales of ordinary people ,in extraordinary circumstances, who in their selfless behaviour represent their... Read more
Published on 19 April 2012 by A . J . Reynolds
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