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Finest Hour: The bestselling story of the Battle of Britain Paperback – 5 Apr 2001
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422 pages. Book is in Very good condition throughout. Astonishing Stories By Ordinary People On The Battle Of Britain.
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This book, and its sequel The End of The Beginning, have both proved to be rare examples where I have felt that I have learnt something while being thoroughly entertained.
For me, this comes from the characters around which the history is recounted. Both these books cover events that have been the subject of TV and film dramatisation but these used characters created around Hollywood stars or English character actors. The people who provided so much of the material for the books were involved in the war in the ranks, at home and in command. The stories they told to the authors during the years of research bring a powerful reality to the fighting and the hardships the endured.
There is a spitfire pilot who falls in love while struggling to match the victories of his fellow heroes. There is a soldier wounded while trying to hold back the German army in a French cemet factory, a family trapped by the blitz in the East-end of London and a naval rating dealing with the aftermath of surving the sinking of his ship at Dunkirk. The book brings their fears to life as well as their remarkable resolve to carry on their fight, to survive, to win.
This book has not changed my view of WW2 but it has made me painfully aware of how much it dominated the lives of civilians and the Forces. I was greatly moved by parts of the book.
This is a great book. I doubt anyone will start this book and not finish it - and they will be glad that they did.
The book starts in France at the commencement of the German invasion and follows a number of the characters through the fall of France, the start of the aerial fighting over England to the end of the Battle of Britain. The story is told from the English side with no accounts from any of the German participants but the title does say 'Finest Hour', which should give you an idea, what the book is about anyhow.
I found two of the stories quite sad, one involving the German bombing of a school in London that resulted in numerous civilian casualties and how the authorities solved the dilemma of identify and processing the bodies. Another story detailed the sinking of the British liner 'City of Benares' which was carrying over 90 children being sent to Canada so as to be safe from the nighttime Blitz against London.
I also found the story of the machinations between Churchill and Roosevelt over American aid to Britain during this period very interesting as was the account of the destruction of the French Fleet and their small victory later on against the British Fleet at Dakar.
Overall this is an interesting account of this pivotal period in England's history during World War Two. I am sure that many readers will find the human stories interesting and I doubt that any student of World War Two will not find something new and interesting in this account.
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