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Target London: Under attack from the V-weapons during WWII Paperback – 17 Jan 2013

4.1 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; paperback / softback edition (17 Jan. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034912356X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349123561
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 3.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 520,029 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Detailed and well-researched . . . he has some fascinating material on London's response to this onslaught (Dominic Sandbrook The Scotsman)

The writing is clear and the story compelling (Michael Sherborne Mail on Sunday)

The story is a fascinating blend of drama and symbolism and Campbell has concocted a narrative mix as rich as the ethanol and liquid oxygen cocktail that blasted the V-2 heavenwards (Patrick Bishop Standpoint)

Campbell breaks new ground . . . by combining [the story of Peenemunde] with the story of those on this side of the Channel who tried to chart the rocket scientists' progress through information gleaned from spies, prisoners of war and the code breakers of Bletchley Park . . . an accomplished study (Peter Conradi The Sunday Times)

Campbell conveys these parallel narratives with suspense in a tale that contains numerous twists (Christopher Silvester Express)

This impressively researched yarn takes off like its deadly subjects . . . Campbell deftly unpicks the tangled story that climaxed in 168 deaths in a Woolworth's in New Cross and 500 in The Hague when the RAF tried to take out the V2 launch site. (Tim Birkhead, Independent)

Well-researched and digestible . . . (Chris Pavone, Herald)

Gripping . . . Investigative historian Campbell writes with the pace and tension of a thriller (Daily Express)

This excellent book captures it all. There's a superb account of the codebreakers at Bletchley and the aerial-photograph analysts at Medmenham. Campbell puts it all together beautifully. (Evening Standard (London))

Book Description

* The stunningly dramatic true story of the threat to London from Nazi Germany's V-rockets, from their inception and invention to their effect on our city streets

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book does not delve too deeply into the technology but more concerns the British Intelligence effort to find out about this new and pressing threat. Target London is written from the point of view of British intelligence prising open the Pandora's box of secret German flying bomb and rocket developments as they piece their knowledge together. It is a longish book containing lot of notes with a well written main body of text in short, palatable chunks.

We start off with the first insight when a German signal is intercepted by Bletchly Park, the British code breaking station. The signal reports a man's suicide on a military base, not information of much use in itself to the war effort but the detail of his unit and who the message was sent to provides the first inkling something important is happening by the Baltic. The book describes how disparate pieces of informatin create a more whole picture of the German programs, sometimes overestimating key factors such as the size of the warhead and in other ways underestimating.

The book also describes the deception by the British using the double cross agents, reporting to the Germans their bombs, which were actually falling in South and East London that they were falling in North West London. The Germans then believe that they are firing long and so, based on the deception information, recalibrate their weapons resulting in them firing even shorter.

Further surprises include the fact Churchill actively considered using gas on the German people in revenge for rocket attacks and the level of infighting between Government departments and the military over who really was in charge of Operation Crossbow - the war against the flying bombs and rockets.
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By Dr Barry Clayton TOP 500 REVIEWER on 25 July 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
This is a well written account of the inception of the German V1 and V2 weapons and our desperate race to find their sites before they were aimed at London and the SE of the UK during WW2.
Accounts of what took place in Bletchley Park are sound but for detail one needs to look at other books about ULTRA and Bombes.
Campbell's book tells us very little about the German side of things that has not been in the public domain for many years now. The barbaric treatment of slave labour by the Germans, treatment that led to the deaths of thousands, makes grim reading. We should never forget that many ordinary Germans knew full well what was happening at Dora the slave labour camp at Mittelwerk, and at other camps.
What makes this book extremely useful for historians of the period is not the detail about how the bomb and rocket were invented and launched but the infighting, intrigue, quarrels and sheer bloody-mindedness that went on in the Churchill coalition.
We learn again how arrogance, pride, jealousy and ambition nearly wrecked allied efforts to combat the new airborne menace.These were, incidentally, the same things that pervaded much of our war strategy between 1939 and 1945.
Vital information, for example, was deliberately kept not only from our American ally (they reciprocated) but from several government committees that were charged with focusing on the same problem, namely how to combat the growing V1/V2 threat.
Personality clashes reared their head again and again to an extent that individuals deliberately set out to thwart or even ruin the careers of those they disliked. Duncan Sandys, Churchill's son-in-law, was a prime target of many in this respect.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a good and very detailed look at the V-weapon attacks on London (and Antwerp) in 1944-45. It however, important ot be clear what this book is not. It is not a social history of the attacks. In fact for Christy Campbell the real war is not the missiles exploding on London, but the battle of the competing intelligence groups and communities first to make sense of what the Germans were doing, and then to devise counters to the threat.

Fro me this rendered it slightly dry - as if the world outside the Whitehall committee rooms, Bletchley Park, or the photo interpreters at Medmenham is not there. I came to this book immediately after reading Juliet Gardiner's The Blitz - which is a book which very much does takes as its focus the voices of the public.

To be fair to Campbell his book is very strong on what it does, and he does well with the German infighting too. He has taken this route because there already exist books which have covered the impact of the V1 & 2 on the people of London, so I understand why he focused on the backroom war.

I suspect that part of the fault - if fault there be - is the publisher's understandable desire to sell the book, but in that sense the title doesn't do the book complete justice - as it really about the intelligence war over the V-weapons.

So, a good book, but for me slightly unbalanced in its focus. I wanted more from the AA crews defending London, more from the ARPs and the rescue squads more from the fighter squadrons deployed in anti-V-weapon operations.
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