161 of 163 people found the following review helpful
The best Battle of Britain book ever,
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This review is from: The Most Dangerous Enemy: A History of the Battle of Britain (Paperback)
There are so many books available on the Battle of Britain, but this is the best I've read. A healthy and fascinating mix of anecdote, opinion, and solid research give this book so many dimensions missing in others that cover this important historical event.
Other authors have emphasised how close-run this event was - how Britain avoided defeat at the hands of the Luftwaffe by a hair's-breadth. I've never been entirely convinced by this. I could never put my finger on why, which is why I probably read so many books on this subject. But thankfully Bungay hits the nail on the head with a view that is contrary to the consensus: the British war machine was far more efficient than the Germans'; that the Germans didn't have the industrial capacity to replace the aircraft lost over England. And, crucially, the genius of Park and Dowding's organisation of the defence was such that the Luftwaffe was far from achieving a certain victory.
Everything is brilliantly explained: the tactics, the aircraft, the pilots, the politics, and much that has been neglected in the past such as the role of Bomber Command, and a decent explanation of why the famous "Big Wing" was such a bad idea.
Stick with the book to the end and you will be amused by Bungay's ironic quips, and moved when he delves deeper into the lives of some of the pilots. He rightly laments the sorry status this battle has in WWII history, pointing out that it's the world, not just Britain, that owes a debt of gratitude to the pilots.
What is profoundly sad is the knowledge that this breed is dying out - an example is the story of the retired Spitfire pilot who didn't mention his role in the battle, quietly working in his garage, content to be anonymous. One day, his secret is out, and the reaction is very moving.
Buy this - it's the best history of the most important air battle, ever.
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Initial post: 27 Jan 2008 01:59:02 GMT
Rudy Arnold says:
Yes, one of the first things that popped into my mind when I first began to develop an interest in this aspect of "my father's war" was: wait a minute, it's not just Britain that was at stake here! I wonder if perhaps Churchill had THAT in mind when he made the speech?
Posted on 15 Feb 2011 20:59:43 GMT
I totally agree with everything you've said. I love books that debunk the received myth, and this one does it with a phenomenal weight of arguement.
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