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Target London: Under attack from the V-weapons during WWII Paperback – 17 Jan 2013

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Product details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; paperback / softback edition (17 Jan 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034912356X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349123561
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 3.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 151,954 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Christy Campbell is the author of series of acclaimed investigative histories. Born in London to Irish parents halfway through the twentieth century, he grew up with an intense curiosity about the world which has never gone away.
He worked in magazines and newspapers (joining the Sunday Telegraph as defence correspondent on the eve of the first Gulf War)reporting from conflicts in the the Middle East, central America, Cambodia and the former Yugoslavia.
Old-fashioned books remain a fabulous way of exploring historical stories in depth, especially the sort of the thing that governments or powerful individuals wanted to keep hidden at the time - and, in some cases, still do not want known.
I'm never happier than when in an archive. The earliest document I've worked with bearing a secret classification (it still is)I found in the UK National Archives. It dates from 1887. You must never stop digging.

Product Description


Detailed and well-researched . . . he has some fascinating material on London's response to this onslaught (Dominic Sandbrook The Scotsman)

The writing is clear and the story compelling (Michael Sherborne Mail on Sunday)

The story is a fascinating blend of drama and symbolism and Campbell has concocted a narrative mix as rich as the ethanol and liquid oxygen cocktail that blasted the V-2 heavenwards (Patrick Bishop Standpoint)

Campbell breaks new ground . . . by combining [the story of Peenemunde] with the story of those on this side of the Channel who tried to chart the rocket scientists' progress through information gleaned from spies, prisoners of war and the code breakers of Bletchley Park . . . an accomplished study (Peter Conradi The Sunday Times)

Campbell conveys these parallel narratives with suspense in a tale that contains numerous twists (Christopher Silvester Express)

This impressively researched yarn takes off like its deadly subjects . . . Campbell deftly unpicks the tangled story that climaxed in 168 deaths in a Woolworth's in New Cross and 500 in The Hague when the RAF tried to take out the V2 launch site. (Tim Birkhead, Independent)

Well-researched and digestible . . . (Chris Pavone, Herald)

Gripping . . . Investigative historian Campbell writes with the pace and tension of a thriller (Daily Express)

This excellent book captures it all. There's a superb account of the codebreakers at Bletchley and the aerial-photograph analysts at Medmenham. Campbell puts it all together beautifully. (Evening Standard (London))

Book Description

* The stunningly dramatic true story of the threat to London from Nazi Germany's V-rockets, from their inception and invention to their effect on our city streets

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 6 May 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book does not delve too deeply into the technology but more concerns the British Intelligence effort to find out about this new and pressing threat. Target London is written from the point of view of British intelligence prising open the Pandora's box of secret German flying bomb and rocket developments as they piece their knowledge together. It is a longish book containing lot of notes with a well written main body of text in short, palatable chunks.

We start off with the first insight when a German signal is intercepted by Bletchly Park, the British code breaking station. The signal reports a man's suicide on a military base, not information of much use in itself to the war effort but the detail of his unit and who the message was sent to provides the first inkling something important is happening by the Baltic. The book describes how disparate pieces of informatin create a more whole picture of the German programs, sometimes overestimating key factors such as the size of the warhead and in other ways underestimating.

The book also describes the deception by the British using the double cross agents, reporting to the Germans their bombs, which were actually falling in South and East London that they were falling in North West London. The Germans then believe that they are firing long and so, based on the deception information, recalibrate their weapons resulting in them firing even shorter.

Further surprises include the fact Churchill actively considered using gas on the German people in revenge for rocket attacks and the level of infighting between Government departments and the military over who really was in charge of Operation Crossbow - the war against the flying bombs and rockets.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Dr Barry Clayton TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 25 July 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
This is a well written account of the inception of the German V1 and V2 weapons and our desperate race to find their sites before they were aimed at London and the SE of the UK during WW2.
Accounts of what took place in Bletchley Park are sound but for detail one needs to look at other books about ULTRA and Bombes.
Campbell's book tells us very little about the German side of things that has not been in the public domain for many years now. The barbaric treatment of slave labour by the Germans, treatment that led to the deaths of thousands, makes grim reading. We should never forget that many ordinary Germans knew full well what was happening at Dora the slave labour camp at Mittelwerk, and at other camps.
What makes this book extremely useful for historians of the period is not the detail about how the bomb and rocket were invented and launched but the infighting, intrigue, quarrels and sheer bloody-mindedness that went on in the Churchill coalition.
We learn again how arrogance, pride, jealousy and ambition nearly wrecked allied efforts to combat the new airborne menace.These were, incidentally, the same things that pervaded much of our war strategy between 1939 and 1945.
Vital information, for example, was deliberately kept not only from our American ally (they reciprocated) but from several government committees that were charged with focusing on the same problem, namely how to combat the growing V1/V2 threat.
Personality clashes reared their head again and again to an extent that individuals deliberately set out to thwart or even ruin the careers of those they disliked. Duncan Sandys, Churchill's son-in-law, was a prime target of many in this respect.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By C. H. Maginniss on 10 May 2012
Format: Hardcover
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Well paced and comprehensively researched, I was impressed by the manner in which Christy Campbell has interwoven so many different aspects of the V-weapons intelligence picture; it is a fascinating read. I was especially interested to learn of the immense creative tension across the political, military, intelligence and scientific groups and committees, which the author has depicted so well. So many other histories paint a more coherent picture but Christy Campbell has undoubtedly alighted on a much more balanced interpretation, particularly in relation to the role of Doctor R V Jones. The use and mis-use of intelligence material, especially by politicians, is clearly explained, and has parallels with recent operations.

The one key criticism I have though, is the constant, inappropriate and irritating use of "actually", "in fact" and "managed". This detracts from the flow of the script and should have been gripped by the editor. As with many military authors with a media background, Christy Campbell also sometimes mis-comprehends nuances of service life or makes errors in technical detail but overall this book is an excellent contribution to the knowledge of this subject.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Wingate on 14 Jun 2012
Format: Hardcover
I finished this book wondering how this country managed to win the war.there was so much infighting and backstabbing between the main participants that it difficult to understand why some of the people involved were so dismissive of the Germans V weapons.Lord Cherwell for a start rubbished the notion till they became a reality.Duncan Sandys who at times seemed more interested in making a political empire for himself.Churchill who does not exactly cover himself with glory ,and whose main idea to combat the threat seems to be poison gas and chemical warfare.It is difficult to realise that many ministers in the war cabinet were not cleared for ultra and that the americans were let in only grudingly.It is clear that the Germans were victorious in this particular episode but thankfully it was a pyrhic victory.Had they invested the money and time in jet fighters and atomic research events in the second world war could have taken a much more sinister turn.It has to be said that little of what is set out in this book is new.However it is a tribute to the author that he has used his material to great effect.Set out almost as a diary,reaching the defining point,the V1 launch at the right moment.A highly recommended book.
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