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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating revisionist history, 23 July 2013
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This review is from: Britain's War Machine: Weapons, Resources and Experts in the Second World War (Paperback)
This is a good counter to the standard popular histories that posit a weak Britain struggling for survival against a far more powerful and ruthless enemy. This argument is not directed against any "straw man" - only this week Channel 4 television aired a documentary on the DeHavilland Mosquito subtitled "The Plane That Saved Britain". The myth of British weakness is extremely powerful and long-legged, and I doubt that even Edgerton's revisionism will fully eradicate it.

Edgerton has a thorough go at it, nevertheless, and convincingly demonstrates that the British Empire had a negligible chance of being beaten by Nazi Germany and its allies, largely thanks to the material wealth contained within the Empire, and the leverage it maintained over "neutral" suppliers. He also demonstrates that Britain was in many ways more technologically advanced, and had better supplied armed forces, than any of the Axis powers.

I suppose the question that the book begs is why the myth of British weakness and technological inferiority continues to have so much appeal. He suggests at the end of the book that the tendency to blame the standard of equipment for early British defeats deflected blame from the poor performance of the Army themselves - that it exposed their lack of resolve, resourcefulness and tenacity.

In essence, a more competent and powerful Britain must necessarily appear to be a comparatively less heroic one. The British themselves are attached to the myth of their own heroism, and the Americans are attached to the myth of "saving" an otherwise doomed Mother country. Against these irrationalities, the cogent arguments and statistical tables of even the most diligent historian are always going to struggle.
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