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The Day of the Jackal
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on 4 May 2017
Read this book several years ago and enjoyed it from start to page turning finish. I then lent it to an aircraft engineer and he reckoned it was the most realistic book about the aviation industry he had ever read.
The characters are well portrayed and when one of them is placed in danger you really do care that she gets out of it safely. As to the cause oft the incident which forms the central core of the story - clues are given as to what the root cause is but it still comes as a surprise at the end.
Knowing how much I had enjoyed reading the book the first time around I purchased another copy so I could read it again - and I am sure I enjoyed the second reading just as much as the first,.
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on 23 August 2011
I have read much war poetry and many books about war. "Good-bye to all that," by Robert Graves and "Memoirs of an Infantry Officer" by Siegfried Sassoon come to mind as amongst the best. However, "Bomber" measures up well even in this exalted company. For me, "Bomber" is the most enthralling story, driven by a detailed narrative and description of character, that I have read about war.

Len Deighton does not just capture the horrors of war but he does so with balance and perspective from both British and Germans adverseries. He draws his characters brilliantly: the heroic and the flawed. Nor are they ever other than rounded. The sycophantic officer, duplicitous as he unfairly denigrates a brilliant sergeant pilot, proves himself to be a courageous man. The flyers are never the stuff of carboard heroics. They are scared, they dread the ordeal before them and they perform despite their terrors.

Romantic love is sometimes fulfilled and sometimes cut short, death and destruction are always near and the terror that these might be inflicted on those you love are described with sensitivity and restraint.

The destruction inside the aircraft and the blood and death are duplicated on the ground. Deighton's detailed description of the effect of heavy bombing on the infra structure of the town is truly revelationary. The effects on electricity, water supply, hospitals, sewage, buildings and the struggles to overcome the destruction is a marvel in its clarity and detail.

The British, or maybe English, class system with its confidence in those who attended the right schools, are from the right families and speak with the right accents do not come well out of the story. The sergeant may fly the aircraft with courage and brilliance but his exclusion from the social elite is still required. The flawed senior officer makes his judgements on anachronistic criteria and a ready prejudice. In this too, Deighton, is painfully accurate and I suggest we still, even today, have lessons we might learn.
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on 10 September 2010
Briefly, this is an account of a single RAF bombing raid on a town in Germany, written from the perspectives of a variety of major and minor protagonists, in the air and on the ground, in Germany and England. The story takes you from the morning of the raid as the characters wake, go about their daily business and prepare for the raid, all the way through the raid itself to the end of the night as the bombers land and the survivors crawl from the rubble.

It is a truly fantastic story, written by a master storyteller and to label it as fiction doesn't do it an ounce of justice. It is so meticulously researched that you'll put it down thinking you've read a dramatisation of a real event which, I suppose, it is - an event that was played out almost every night for four or five years in the middle of the last century. Indeed the research goes so far as to provide a glorious description of the design and cost of the Lancaster bomber, a chilling exposition of the tactics and effects of a typical aerial bombing raid on a civilian town and an AtoZ of a typical RAF bomber station. Despite this detail it is no "technothriller" and the story concentrates on the personality, problems hopes and fears of the characters and you will find yourself sympathising with many of them and disliking others (regardless of whether they're British or German). I love how the mundanity of the events portrayed in the early chapters starkly sets off the horror of the raid itself and while I have every respect for the bravery of the RAF bomber crews (as does Deighton) the book brings home just how brutal, cold-blooded and even murderous the concept of area bombing really was.

Kingsley Amis rated this as one of the best books to come out of the 20th Century. I am not literary genius, but it's hard to disagree. This is one of those rare books that has sat on my bookshelf for nearly 20 years and has survived countless car boot sale culls and been read many times. In fact I think I might pick it up again tonight!

Update: July 2012. At long last the heroes of Bomber Command have been honoured with a memorial in London. This book goes some way explaining why the memorial is so deserved and why it has taken seventy years to come about.
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on 2 February 2015
Henry Pierce is about to become very rich--as soon as his firm, Amedeo Technologies, gets an infusion of capital from a big backer. But the brilliant chemist's workaholic habits are disrupted when his lover, the former intelligence officer of his company, breaks up with him. Lonely and dispirited, he moves into a new apartment and gets a new phone number that attracts a lot of callers, but not for him. His new telephone number seems to have previously belonged to one Lilly Quinlan, an escort whose Internet photo arouses Henry's curiosity, especially when L.A. Darlings, whose Web page features the beautiful young woman, can't tell Henry how to find her." I read quickly through every word of Connelly's Harry Bosch novels, but only made halfway through this one before starting to guess what was coming next, and skimming to find out if I was right. Protaganist Pierce is just not as interesting as Bosch, and the plot wasn't as tight as Connelly's usual
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on 17 October 2012
I have read pretty much every book on Bomber Command and this is the best fiction or non-fiction book on the subject and definitely the best place for a beginner to start. Meticulous and detailed with characters, both German and Allied and it is absolutely accurate. The characters will stay with you for a long long time. A book now written some time ago it is interesting to see how it has aged. In general I think very well. The only areas which slightly grate are the rather obvious anti-establishment tone of Lambert vs the RAF and Ft Lt Sweet. Also Lambert's somewhat anti-war stance and question at the briefing. His seems dated and more in tune with the time the book was written than a commonly held view among Bomber Command crews. Certainly it is never reflected in the numerous "voices of....." type books I have read.

I have also listened to the BBC audio version. I would not recommend to fans of the book. It differs in a number of respects, is even more "of its time" with a marked anti war and class warfare stance and is rather less subtle. It also adds a superfluous back story between Ruth and Sweet. Sweet's fate is also clumsily handled and Murphy's lacks the shocking impact of the book.
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on 24 July 2010
I have the audio book by the BBC on my ipod and so wnated to read the full story as originally published but could not find a copy for a long time. Now available from Amazon (and I'm sure other places) I had to get it and I am glad I did.
This story of a the 24 hours before and during a bombing raid over the ruhr, told from the viewpoint of many people on both sides is powerful stuff, and if you have heard the bbc dramatisation I can asure you its well worth reading the book as it is different; there are more characters in the novel, some of the dramatisation characters have been amalgamated from several in the book and events are expanded as some scenes had to be cut for the dramatisation.
It is a poignant yet uplifting story, full of well researched details and events that are brought to life from 70 odd years ago in an extraordinarily powerful way.
The characters seem real and are completely rounded with histories and hoped for futures, no mean feat considering the documantary like style necesitating quick introductions to each one. While the actual raid is fictitious, the events are all real from an assortment of different actual raids. As a school teacher I have loaned my copy to one of our history teachers and he has used it in lessons to illustrate events in a realistically powerful way for our pupils (we have both played the audio book in lessons and had pupils complaining at first then listenning in stunned silence, some have even cried!).
This book is worth getting. It is powerful and emotional reading of a part of our history that some have condemned with the title mass murder. Both sides did not want to go through this, but perhaps without the heroism on both sides depicted here, the war would have lasted even longer and more lives would have been lost. I cannot recommend this book more highly.
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on 12 March 2018
I have read this book many times over the years and every time I am impressed by the empathy for all sides in the second world war, although this is a work of fiction the level of research, narrative style and character identification leave the reader rooting for the survival for characters on both sides of the conflict ~ as well as the suitable bloody end to others.

This is a book that should be read by teenagers, to help them understand why and how Bomber command existed, the heroism of the flyers on both sides, the sheer courage and determination and fear that these young men went through.
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on 10 March 2018
A taut and exciting thriller. A great story and characterisations with thought provoking concepts. It also has a compelling element that will keep you awake reading longer than you intended, that's how good a read it was. Need I say more... other than, don't read the spoilers as that will reduce the tension of the story.
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on 8 January 2014
Despite the vintage of this book, I had never read it till I got it on Kindle recently. It's well put together and held my attention despite my having seen the movie many times, meaning my head was full of 'spoilers', and my mind's eye irrevocably has a young Edward Fox playing the leading role. The film is very faithful to the book. Forsyth's style is a little dry compared with, say, Le Carre, and is sometimes almost non-fiction in tone, but perhaps that adds more than it detracts. The historical background to this story is very little known in the UK and thus provides its own fascinating aspect to the story, and raises interesting questions about how european politics in the last 50 years might have ended up being totally different.
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on 15 January 2018
Superb. The forgotten story of men fighting a war night after night, then coming home to normal life before flying off again and in many cases, never returning. There are no winners, just those who live and those who die. Read it and then join the debate over whether or not these men deserve a campaign medal - now that you know what it was really like.
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