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on 6 August 2011
The author is not a professional historian and it shows. Although he includes a short bibliography there is none of the critical apparatus i.e. footnotes that enable a reader to check in more detail the origins and veracity of the information we are fed in this enjoyably quirky book.

The writer has a background in science and as a non-scientist I am grateful for his clear explanations of the workings of radar and the insight that the CH system had its teething troubles which is often glossed over in more conventional histories.

Fisher's chatty writing style helps you to read this book quickly and its prose is enjoyable but although Dowding's religious beliefs may have some relevance to the story he is telling, how useful is it describe him at one point in his narrative as "round the bend"? This is more the language of the playground than a serious look at the man and his achievements from a psychological point of view.

Trafford Leigh-Mallory is again seen as one of the villains of the piece which may have some merit but the argument needs to be built up and proven. The actions of those responsible for the removal of Dowding should be looked at in the context of 1940 rather than with hindsight which is rarely generous to those in power when a fuller historical picture comes to be revealed.

The repeated statement that Sir Arthur Harris is head of Bomber Command whilst Dowding was in charge of Fighter Command is clearly wrong and has been alluded to in another review. Therefore some doubt must cast on the accuracy of this work as a whole. It would be better read in conjunction with other books by John Ray, Vincent Orange and even Jack Dixon for example, to obtain a more detailed and documentary based analysis of Dowding and the events of the summer and autumn of 1940.
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on 4 October 2007
I found myself doubtful of the Authors' scholarship. Not even the date of the Fire of London is correct. I also had to conclude that the intensity of the research for the subject matter was similarly less than thorough. I believe that those who knew Dowding will be disappointed with some of the Authors assertions. It is a pity because with better research and application it could have been valuable.
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on 2 February 2009
This is not a historical study. Sir Arthur 'Bomber' Harris did not become C - in -C Bomber Command until 1942, well after Dowding had retired from Fighter Command and the RAF. Mistakes of this magnitude are inexecusable.
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on 17 January 2008
This is just so bad I kept on to about 2/3 before I gave up. It is simply cliched unresearched nonsense and should be in the fiction section eg it has Arthur Harris as head of Bomber Command in competition with Dowding for resources while Dowding is Head Of fighter Command - if you don't know why that is absurd then this book is probably for you! Sorry but this is only one example of the awful rubbish this author trots out!
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on 3 December 2009
This is quite simply a shocking display of inaccurate twaddle and how on earth this came to be published beggars belief. The amount of inaccuracies and falsehoods in this book are too many to list here. I picked this up as it had a number of pages devoted to Billy Fiske, whom I have been collecting information on for a number of years now. The parts about Fiske alone were mythology and untruths for the most part and demonstrated the author's complete lack of research and scholarship. I would not recommend this to anyone. There are far, far better books on the Battle of Britain available and I would advise readers to steer well clear of this dreadful offering.
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on 25 November 2005
When did Hitler lose the war?
You could point to the failure of Operation Typhoon - the doomed attempt to take Moscow in the autumn of 1941, Stalingrad, Kursk, Operation Bagration, or D-Day.
You could make a good case for any of these, with Typhoon and Stalingrad on the shortest of short lists.
But you would have forgotten one battle more important than any of these: the Battle of Britain. Failure at this point would have left Hitler supreme.
David E Fisher introduces us to the people who we should thank for the fact that Operation ‘Sea Lion’ never took place.
He takes us through the history of the development of the RAF in the pre-war years, and considers the strands which led to victory over the Luftwaffe in the autumn of 1940.
To Air Marshall Dowding must go the ultimate credit for making victory possible.
First, when everyone else believed with Stanley Baldwin that “the bomber will always get through”, Dowding knew the RAF had to have fighters.
He was in the right place to influence events. In 1930, he was promoted to Air Marshall, and appointed to the post of Supply and Research on the Air Council, and in 1937 he appointed head of Fighter Command.
Dowding needed to get a chain of radar receivers built, and was only given permission to go ahead, provided they did not interfere with the grouse shooting.
Every step of the way he battled Harris for funds. To Harris, Dowding was “out of touch.” Bombers were what was wanted. Eventually, of course, Harris got is way, but only after an ungrateful Prime Minister had sacked Dowding, and the Battle of Britain had been won.
There were several occasions - several What If? moments - when Britain could have taken the road to defeat in the Battle of Britain.
1. What if the Air Ministry had ordered a new generation of biplane fighters, as they had wanted to? Planes that lacked the speed, the armament and the height to take on Hitler’s Luftwaffe.
If the Air Ministry had had its way, the Luftwaffe would have been met by planes like the Tiger Moth.
Instead they ordered the Spitfire developed by Reginald Mitchell of Vickers Supermarine, and based on his Schneider Trophy-winning monoplane.
Sydney Camm, designer at Hawkers, also got the message, and designed the Hurricane along similar lines.
It was Squadron Leader Ralph Sorley who determined that the Spitfire needed eight guns not four. Eight guns were needed to take maximum advantage of that split second which was all the pilot might get.
2. What if Churchill’s friend Professor Lindeman had had his way, and that work on an infrared detection system had replaced the development of radar?
No such detection system could have picked out the bomber’s infrared from all the other infrared signals in the background. Operation Sealion could have taken place.
In this book you will meet Arnold ‘Skip’ Wilkins, who learned that Post Office engineers had noted the effect of aircraft on VHF reception, and that this might be followed up as a means of detecting enemy aircraft. Radar was conceived.
(His boss, Robert Watson Watt took all the credit!)
3. What if Arthur Harris - appointed to Bomber Command at the same time Dowding was appointed to Fighter Command - had got his way, and Britain had concentrated on building bombers in 1938? Operation Sealion could have taken place.
4. What if Dowding had caved in to Churchill’s demand for an extra ten squadrons of fighters for France in May 1940?
Dowding refused, and gave the War Cabinet his reasons.
The author tells us that no one spoke. No one supported him. They were all terrified of Churchill.
Left to fight his own corner, Dowding showed them a graph of his “wastage rates” and told them that there would be no Hurricanes left “ … in France or in this country” if such losses were sustained for another fortnight. The cabinet agreed with Dowding.
Had they not done so, Operation Sealion could have taken place.
Thanks to this splendid piece of history by David E Fisher, Lord Dowding, and the people around him, are restored to their rightful place: war winners.
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