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62 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most human account of the Battle of Britain available., 8 Feb. 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Duel Of Eagles: The Struggle for the Skies, 1918-1940 (Paperback)
It has been some time since I last read Duel of Eagles but I can remember being transfixed. Prior to this I had read as many accounts of the Battle of Britain as I could find. In general they fell into two catagories, those which were somewhat triumphant in victory, and others which were too scant and of little merit. When Townsend first wrote Duel of Eagles, in the late sixties, the market was saturated with 'blood and thunder' books and so he endeavoured to present a book that was intelligent and all encompassing, rather than dealing with the heroics of individuals, such as in 'reach for the skies'. To do this, he travelled to meet and interview a host of pilots and their relatives from both sides (even Herman Goring's daughter), and has collected the best eyewitness account available. Interspersed are the poignant last letters home from pilots that never returned.
Peter Townsend was himself a hero of the Battle of Britain and logged more flying hours than any other British pilot during the battle. Moreover he found himself fighting by day and then fighting by night during the Blitz. And yet these remarkable achievements are hardly hinted at in his book because he is determined to present the whole picture. It reads as though he enjoyed and was fascinated by all the things that he has discovered and written about. Events of which he must have been blissfully unaware during the early thirties are described as if they were being fitted into his own personal jigsaw puzzle as he tries to make sense of his career in the RAF.
Although Townsend gives a thorough background to events, specifically to the rise to power of Hitler and Herman Goring (commander of the Luftwaffe), it is the lives of the young pilots of both sides that he concentrates on, from intial training, to their deaths in some cases.
The work fizzes with excitement and runs the Gamut of emotions. I tried for many years to find this book and was delighted when I learned of its re-publication. Far more involving than any historian's 'revised' account, for me it is peerless.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, 1 May 2009
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N. Lake "Lakey" (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Duel Of Eagles: The Struggle for the Skies, 1918-1940 (Paperback)
Superb book which I could not put down. The factual nature makes the content akin to the same as an educational text book but the way it is written is engaging and highly digestable.

I would recommend this to anyone with even a fleeting interest in the Battle of Britain. More than any other book I have read on the subject it balances historical narrative with the personal tales, intertwining lives of Townsend, his compatriots and his adversaries.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Duel of Eagles, 27 Sept. 2010
This review is from: Duel of Eagles (Paperback)
I read this book immediately after Len Deighton's "Fighter", a book I now feel drew heavily on Thownshend's work,but perhaps gave more of an insight into the German perspective on the battle. "Duel of Eagles" is an easier read, but for a more detailed account of both the British and German tactics and the conflict between commanders and power struggles on both sides, try the Len Deighton account of the battle. "Duel of Eagles", however has that unique first hand account feel which no secondary source writer can achieve. Read both!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive Battle of Britain book., 17 Jun. 2014
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This review is from: Duel of Eagles (Paperback)
Written by a hurricane pilot who actually flew in the battle.
Need I say more, this is the real thing.
Sadly Peter is better known for his private life, it tends to be forgotten that he only reached royal circles because he was such a good fighter pilot and leader .
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Duel Of Eagles: The Struggle for the Skies, 1918-1940
Duel Of Eagles: The Struggle for the Skies, 1918-1940 by Peter Townsend (Paperback - 7 Dec. 2000)
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