First Blitz: The Secret German Plan to Raze London to the Ground in 1918 Hardcover – 19 May 2008
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Neil Hanson is that rare beast - a popular historian who never talks down to his readers. Clearly and engagingly written, his book puts more academic historians to shame by discovering a big subject, investigating it thoroughly and drawing bold but far-reaching conclusions from it -- Sunday Telegraph
The 1940s bombing raids over London have taken such a powerful grip upon our imagination that the existence of an earlier Blitz, in World War I, will come to many readers as a complete surprise. Yet as Neil Hanson...demonstrates in this gripping and well-researched book, it was in may ways more terrifying -- Daily Mail
This is a compelling story compellingly told...Gripping -- Navy News
Using first-hand witnesses plus government war records, Hanson draws a powerful picture of the impact of these first air raids -- Time Out
The story of the first London Blitz, never before told. Everything that took place in the Battle of Britain twenty two years later is foreshadowed in this story.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Dates, names, places, sights, sounds, machines, drama, folly, consequences - all aspects of these historically and militarily significant operations are laid out in vivid detail to form a wonderfully flowing tale of a little known but vital struggle in the later stages of WW1.
Highly recommended for anyone at all interested in military history, and probably even a fascinating read for those for whom the subject holds little attraction.
HISTORY invariably falls into two categories: academic and narrative.
The former is usually detailed, offers unique insights and can be as dry as the Sahara in a drought.
The latter normally rattles on at a cracking pace but rarely skims the surface of serious research.
To marry the two is a rare art - and it is an art Neil Hanson has mastered.
After first-rate histories of the Spanish Armada and the Great Fire of London, Hanson has turned his attention to the Great War in the Air in First Blitz.
There is a smattering of books on the `first Blitz' as it became known (only after `The Blitz' Blitz a generation later) - but almost all of these focus on the raids of 1917.
A year later, a far more destructive series of raids were planned, however - a story which is the hub of this work - which would have been a mirror image of what Londoners would face in 1940. But there are echoes of WW2 throughout this volume.
Blackouts - limited initially - were imposed in the autumn of 1914. Street lamps, bright shop signs, bus headlights were all dimmed. Black curtains were the rule in every window. The darkness exacerbated people's panic and fear - and sparked an upsurge in criminal activity.
There were (nonsensical) inter-Service rivalries. The Royal Naval Air Service would defend dockyards and naval facilities but would only operate over the hinterland when German bombers or Zeppelins crossed the coast. Soldiers manned anti-aircraft guns (or `archie') in ports, while naval guns ringed London to defend the capital.Read more ›
The theme is that in 1917- 18 Londoners were terrified by the German Gotha and 'Giant' air raids and that had the electron incendiary bomb raids taken place London may, in effect. have been destroyed and Britain been brought to its knees. The author describes the destruction and terror caused by every raid in infinite detail- nearly every wall that collapsed is mentioned- but that really is the point. It is only possible to go into such fine detail because there were very few raids in total and the attacks were sustained repeatedly for just a single week in the whole campaign. Mr Hanson claims there was no 'Blitz Spirit' but does not explain how London survived in 1940- 41 when being attacked by 300+ bombers but would not have done so in 1918 when attacked by 30 frail Gothas. Of course the German bombers of 1940 had not been designed for strategic warfare but nevertheless they were still far superior to anything available in 1918.
Its true the experience of being bombed was new- although not entirely so since in some ways the preceding Zeppelins were more frightening than the aircraft. My mother lived through 1939- 45 in the East End and told me they could 'live with' the bombers but were most frightened by the psychological impact of the 'doodle bugs'. Bluntly, Londoners of 1918 were much the same people as those of 1940 and ultimately would have coped in the same way- as indeed did the German public even as late as 1945, despite far heavier raids by Bomber Command and the US 8th Airforce. As Neil Hanson himself admits, the 1917- 18 campaign killed only 836 people in the whole country and often many months separated the individual raids.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Well researched and written book about German air raids on the UK in the Great War, a subject that doesn't get mentioned too often so this is a welcome addition to any war reader's... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Geoff Saunders
Brilliantly written, never knew the details of this part of WW1 aviation historyPublished 12 months ago by Joe Foley
This is an accessible and highly readable account of the German bombing of London and other strategic targets in England during WW1. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Douglas Kemp
Hanson is a superb historian, adept at shining a light on dark corners of history. I hadn't known about the dreadful effects of the first blitz on London until I read this book. Read morePublished on 4 Aug. 2013 by Merryn Williams
We all know of the terrors of the Luftwaffe's Blitz on London and Coventry and many other cities and towns during the second world war - how the RAF protected us and eventually all... Read morePublished on 1 Nov. 2011 by Mr. Stephen L. Long
I was always under the impression that the German bombing strategy of the first world war consisted of not much more than monocled Prussian aristocrasts hefting anvils out of... Read morePublished on 3 Aug. 2011 by dave
If you (like me) thought that air raids on London in the First World War were all Zepplins - read and learn! Read morePublished on 30 April 2011 by bookelephant
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- Books > History > Britain & Ireland > Ireland
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