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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well paced book
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...
Published on 6 May 2012 by Amazon Customer

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2.0 out of 5 stars Not as interesting as it looks
Although this book is ostensibly about the V-weapon offensive against London, a better title would have been something like "V-weapons: the British official response" as the vast majority of the text is devoted to following the byzantine twists and turns of various committees set up to investigate and counter these weapons, with considerable attention being paid...
Published 3 months ago by birchden


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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well paced book, 6 May 2012
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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.

Finally the story takes us into Germany and a brief section on how the Americans hoovered up all the technology and German scientists to operate it, an area that is covered by T-Force: The race for Nazi War Secrets, 1945

The Kindle version has photographs although the captions are obviously ripped straight from the book as they describe pictures to the left and right.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intra-allied warfare, 25 July 2012
By 
Dr Barry Clayton (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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.
Anyone who has worked with prickly, self-opinionated and arrogant people will recognize many of the leading characters in this book. Christy has done us all a service by reminding us of the extent to which many of our top politicians, scientists and civil servants were at loggerheads with each other. It was a miracle that we won the war. Fortunately for us, Hitler's henchmen were even more divided.
This book is a worthy successor to Campbell's: 'Band of Brigands'.
What is still needed is a detailed account of our plans to use various toxic gases and biological agents (plans that Campbell rightly mentions)if, as Churchill kept saying, our very existence was threatened.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I for Intelligence, 10 May 2012
This review is from: Target London: Under attack from the V-weapons during WWII (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
5.0 out of 5 stars Lies,deceit,backstabbing,and that was only the Crossbow committee, 14 Jun 2012
This review is from: Target London: Under attack from the V-weapons during WWII (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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars TARGET LONDON : UDER ATTACK FROM THE V WEAPONS, 7 Jun 2012
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This review is from: Target London: Under attack from the V-weapons during WWII (Hardcover)
Very well researched material, cleverly analysed by the author. Absolutely fascinating to find out what was happening in both this country and in France and Germany before and during the time when this country was being attacked by these weapons.
One minor point : I would like to have seen a diagram showing the component parts of a V1 flying bomb.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buzzbomb Alley, 25 May 2012
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This review is from: Target London: Under attack from the V-weapons during WWII (Hardcover)
As a Londoner ,my family lived through this time,and lived half a mile from where the first V2 landed.Mr Churchill coming to see a gas main explosion seemed a little odd !The V1s were more frightening as you could hear them coming and then cut out.
This book recalled memories of that time,some good,some bad! It is very interesting to know the background at long last,the very difficult decisions that were made to steer the rockets away from the centre of London.A fascinating book from Amazon.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Not as interesting as it looks, 15 Sep 2014
By 
birchden "birchden" (Eastbourne, East Sussex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Target London: Under attack from the V-weapons during WWII (Hardcover)
Although this book is ostensibly about the V-weapon offensive against London, a better title would have been something like "V-weapons: the British official response" as the vast majority of the text is devoted to following the byzantine twists and turns of various committees set up to investigate and counter these weapons, with considerable attention being paid to the numerous detailed arguments between various officials. Not surprisingly, this makes for a pretty dull read on what one might think would be an interesting topic.

While any history of these weapons must take account of all this, what is missing here is anything that really gives an impression of what it was like to be in London during the offensive, or what it was like for the gun crews and pilots who were tasked with destroying the V-1s. There is also only a fairly sparse discussion of the V-weapons' design and development, how they worked and what they were like to operate.

So, if you are making a particular study of the V-weapons, this is certainly a book that you will need to dip into. But if you are looking for an interesting work of military history that will bring its subject alive, and that you can read right through, then you might well be disappointed. The fact that I discovered my copy on a remainders shelf should probably have given me pause for thought...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good to hear the Germans side., 8 Jan 2013
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Very well written well researched book. All one normally reads is how the English always outwit the Germans. However this book demonstrates how unprepared the Allies were for the V assault on London which really seems to have terrified the populace. Churchill was adamant that the weapons be destroyed but the Allies singularly failed to stop the attacks. The V 2 rocket particularly was unstoppable and the method for launching developed by the Germans was brilliant and very up to date even judged by modern times. If the Germans had developed the weapons earlier, they would have dished out far more retribution for the terror raids on their cities. A cracking read.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterly, absorbing stuff, 3 May 2012
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I read this on holiday and it was terrific.

From fairly early on in WW2, the Allies got wind that something fearsome was being developed for use against Britain. Initially via Enigma decrypts, but later increasingly through spies on the ground and eventually through the complete retrieval from neutral territory of crashed test shots, they identified two separate and essentially competing robot missile systems. The V1 was the Luftwaffe's unguided cruise missile; the V2 was the army's quasi-artillery rocket. Both were intended to saturate London - or in the case of the V2, any target at all - with a bombardment against which there was no defence.

The technical genius of the Germans in building this equipment was extraordinary, but the strategic thinking was just as extraordinary in its weirdness. Their armies lacked tanks and air cover, but they found resources to hollow out mountains and build ballistic missiles inside them that couldn't hit a target smaller than a whole city.

From the outset, the British approach was to mount a full-scale intelligence attack on these weapons, to understand their nature, capabilities and so on. The intelligence used was of several types - cryptanalytical, photographic, physical infiltration by spies, and scientific deduction - all of which was harnessed to determine what was happening, what the threat amounted to, and what could or should be done about it.

The striking thing about the book is the picture it paints of parochialism and scientific ineptitude. The scientists were aligned into data-hoarding squabbling factions, apt to assume a priori positions of alarmism or complacency from which they resolutely would not be budged. Thus, at one end of the scale, there were those who thought the V2 weighed 80 tons with a 10-ton warhead; meanwhile Lord Cherwell, the government's chief scientist, was a "rocket denier" who insisted there were no V-weapons at all for quite some time after they had begun falling on London.

Meanwhile, the countermeasure taken that actually worked (invade and conquer enemy-held territory to drive the weapons out of range) was just about the only one never contemplated.

The parallels with latter-day climate science are truly eerie; inept, opinionated scientists produced reams of waffle in support of their own prejudices, huge alarm was sparked, nothing useful was done but much that was harmful was; and the minority who were actually making accurate, measured and useful assessments of the data were ignored, marginalised and excluded.

I doubt that this was what the writer was trying to do, but I couldn't help thinking of Lord Stern and of Professor Phil Jones of UEA....

The book reads well, has the pace of a thriller and marshals its facts very well. The story starts earlier and ends later than you might expect, and I learnt a lot I didn't know.

Recommended.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Not much cop, 22 Jan 2014
A little-covered subject receiving some much-needed attention at last. This is very well researched, but oh dear, it really needs some life... there are hardly any eyewitness testimonies from: residents under attack; pilots or gunners trying to counter the threat; workers involved in building the launch sites; workers involved in building the weapons; scientists involved in designing them; German troops charged with launching the weapons... and so on. Von Braun and his work are hardly mentioned, however every UK Committee and memo in existence receives tedious long-drawn out attention with the end result that it's like reading a very dry official account. No colour at all and a real wasted opportunity. A real struggle to get to the end - but if you like reading all about the politics of how war is waged and decisions are made, without the real life bits, this is for you.
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Target London: Under attack from the V-weapons during WWII
Target London: Under attack from the V-weapons during WWII by Christy Campbell (Hardcover - 29 Mar 2012)
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