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on 13 December 2017
Excellent book. loved it.
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on 5 March 2016
This superb, magisterial work is the history of the RAF's role in WW2. It begins, very properly, looking briefly at the origins of the RAF and the state it was in after the troubles and illusions of the 1920s. It then looks in more detail at the period of expansion and rearmament in the face of German rearmament and then looks at all aspects of the RAF's war in Europe: Fighter Command, Bomber Command, Coastal Command and the various commands supporting the Commonwealth armies in the field. The major battles and operations are covered in some detail: the Battle of France, the Battle of Britain, the War in the Desert, the U-Boat war, the night-bombing of Germay and the tactical support of the armies in NW Europe. The relation of the RAF to the overall British war strategy is kept to the front of the description. The operations, organisation, strategy and equipment developments are all covered in depth. Although sympathetic to the RAF's overall contribution and efficiency, he doesn't hesitate to be critical: of Bomber Command, of senior RAF officers, of the Army - in particular, Montgomery comes in for severe criticism. Neither does he shy away from tackling some of the big controversies: the "big wing" dispute, the failure of precision bombing and the lack of accuracy of Bomber Command, the morality of area bombing.

This book is highly recommended for anyone interested in a hard but fair, and ultimately sympathetic, history of the RAF's participation in WW2 in Europe and the Middle East. The war in the Far East is regrettably omitted by the author for reasons of space.
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on 23 November 2007
Most people's impressions of the air war against Germany have been so coloured by the heroic accounts and selective memories of the participants that this refreshingly written history provides a welcome antidote. The true facts, painstakingly researched from archives of all the belligerent nations reveal a truth far remote from the "Boys Own Paper" stories and gung-ho accounts of authors like Paul Brickhill and Guy Gibson. It was refreshing to have so many myths and illusions corrected by John Terraine's entertaining accounts and brutal facts.

The book brings to life the astonishing heroism of the airmen and the critical technical, logistical and strategic challenges that the allied air forces faced. The crucial moments of the air battles, where the outcome of the entire allied war effort hung in the balance are brilliantly analysed. We, the many, owe so much to so few... in setting out the true nature of their heroism this book is a fitting tribute to their sacrifice.
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on 24 October 2017
Great buy. RAF used Enigma, thats why breakthrough in the German one was so secret even 30 years after war. :-) Good to know.
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on 11 July 2010
Published in North America in 1985 as A Time for Courage: The Royal Air Force in the European War, 1939-1945, John Terraine's exhaustive history is not a simple read, but gives incredible detail into RAF history, both between the Wars, and during WWII. This is not really aimed at the casual reader, but is a scholarly work for those looking at "the big picture". Terraine says he would have needed an additional volume to cover the RAF in the Far East, and with this tome running over 800 pages, it's easy to see his point.
The title of this edition refers to the place of honour in a ground army's formation: the right of the line being given over to the cavalry, and Terraine explains the RAF's position in more modern warfare as being akin to the cavalry's role before the wars of the 20th century.
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on 12 March 2017
Although more than 30 years old, this is a classic of forensic history that will change your views on appeasement and rearmament in the 1930s and will at last accord Sir Edward Ellington the credit he deserved as the father of the war-winning RAF.
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on 15 September 2000
A well documented and authoritative account of the RAF during WWII. John Terraine really succeeds in describing how the most important strategic decisions where made, what happened behind the scenes and the internal struggles of the air barons. No campaign lacks coverage: the first months of the war, the Battle of Britain, the scientific war, Coastal and Bomber Command, the Desert Air Force, the Mediterranean scenario, Normandy and the last battles, all are dealt with in a readable yet rigorous fashion. The only negative aspect is that perhaps too little is said about the aces and individual exploits. Altogether highly recommendable and great value for money too.
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on 13 March 2011
I trust readers will be aware that Terraine made his name in the 1960s by questioning the standard view that Field Marshal Haig was a great commander who fought the First World War the only way anyone successfully could. I think he wasn't 100% right but his insights were important--and at any rate thought-provoking.
In this one-volume history of the RAF (circa 1935-45), Terraine again forced us to question the old assumptions about the decisive victory against the odds in the Battle of Britain, and the value of the Bomber Command offensive for the rest of the war. He is always precise and accurate (if rather over-selective sometimes)as to facts, fluent in style, and provocative as to argument.
The book is valuable, though inevitably each chapter is just too short and selective to give the full picture one might want.
Terraine's conclusions, and indeed research, were not new, but he ably gathered others' arguments. Having taken his points, one still comes out of the book with a huge respect for all branches of the RAF, and a fascination for them, as he intended.
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on 6 January 2015
A book I wish I had read years ago. Not only does it cover the detailed history of the RAF in WW2, but also the preceding two decades of appeasement and pacificsm that resulted in France being conquered and nearly had the same result for Great Britain. Detailed and technical, but well-written and completely absorbing. Highly recommended for all those with an interest in WW2.
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on 25 May 2015
Very comprehensive review of RAF operations in the European, Atlantic and Mediterranean theatres, with particularly interesting section on the Battle of the Atlantic and the RAF's role in the struggle against the U-boats. The strengths and weaknesses of the main characters in the decision making processes are fully aired and the bravery and dedication of the air and ground crews can never be praised highly enough, particularly during the early years when equipment was lacking and the Force was building in strength and experience, learning hard lessons on the way.
Well worth reading.
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