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The terror that stalks by night...
on 23 March 2009
Bomber Command - the 'terrorflieger' - much maligned and their courage greatly to be admired, in my personal view. Max Hastings, as a journalist, can certainly make words meaningful. As an historian he has put together this well crafted, well researched book. Hastings goes to great lengths to be as accurate and as fair as possible, with a shrewd assessment of Arthur Harris in particular, and a number of other RAF staff officers and politicians. The main content of the book though, is devoted to the building up of the strategic bombing offensive, from the early 'nickle runs' and appallingly costly daylight operations when the bombers were forbidden to risk civilian casualties on the ground, to the final devastating raids in the closing days of WW2. We are left in no doubt of the strain on aircrew, the great personal courage of the young men who flew expecting (with good reason) to die, the insensitivity of the RAF to those who broke down, and the struggle for resources to fund the bomber offensive. We have the advantage of hindsight, and the perspective of the 21st century mind. To understand we need, if possible, to think what it was like to be there at the time. Max Hastings enables us to do this with his balanced and thoughtful assessment of the bomber offensive. I am sure his comments were not universally welcome to some of those who served in Bomber Command, but I think we are entitled to make a judgement on history - which Max Hastings has done so ably - otherwise we learn nothing from it's appalling sacrifices. An excellent book.