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on 17 July 2015
Superb account of a most challenging subject full of moral as well as shifting military dilemmas. Hastings, as always, addresses topics from multiple perspectives to allow you to make your own judgement. Of course he doesn't avoid presenting his conclusions but you feel you are given the information to disagree with him.

The entire book, from start to finish, is compelling, but one chapter deserves highlighting. His detailed description of the bombing of Darmstadt on 9/11 1944 is stunning and somewhat chilling noting subsequent events 50+ years later. Some 12,000 people, mostly civilians including many children, were killed that night.

In addition though to describing the horror of the bombing on both the bombing crew and the "bombed" Hastings also looked at the operational costs and introduced, to me, the notion that the deployment of bombers had both strategic and tactical failings. For example the continued area bombing of cities came at huge expense while the potential of sustained bombing of oil facilities, which would have had more impact, was not exploited.

Hasting's assessment, towards the end of the book, that "Bomber Command was very well served by its aircrew, and with a very few exceptions very badly served by its senior officers, in the Second World War" is hard to argue with.
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on 13 July 2015
Could n't put it down and read it at a sitting. Chapters alternate between strategy and well researched history , and more personal stories of the crews involved in the second world war. Until reading this I did not really appreciate just how dangerous the life of a bomber crew in WW2 was, and how poor the odds were of completing a tour of 20 missions. The courage it took to fly these missions with a good idea of the poor odds was huge. I suspect now that WW2 is 70 year old history few young people are aware the huge debt they, and probably the whole of the free world, owes to these heroes along with those of fighter command. Nazism was in my opinion the blackest episode of human history but eventually our airmen together with our other forces and the huge sacrifices made by the Russian people (after a poor start).plus American capability meant that it was defeated ,but it was a close run thing and without our airmen would have been closer still. Strategically and morally Bomber Harris does not come out of the story that well but considered in the knowledge and atmosphere of the time I would not criticise him that harshly. His crews , the majority of which died before 25, come out very very well by any standards.A fascinating story.
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on 30 January 2014
It is unimagineable in today's world that a country would tolerate the incredible losses night after night, year after year that were inflicted by this man 'Bomber Harris' and his defiance of War Ministry orders. This was genocide of the highest order on both sides of the fight. With an average loss rate of between 5%-10% per night and 30 raids per 'tour', just do the maths. Chances of survival were poor and tens of thousands of Allied airmen were killed on these suicide missions. On the German side this was little more than incessant carpet bombing of civilians, hundreds of thousands of whom were killed, wounded or at very least 'de-housed'.

The book is perhaps a bit repetitive but for anyone interested in this aspect of WW2 and how the bombing raids fitted in (or not!) to the overall military strategy it is a good read.
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on 10 August 2014
Excellent on the British top brass and how the war developed for BC. He is unequivocal in his criticism of Bomber Harris and the higher commands who tolerated his single minded disobedience-sad that the one major blemish of the Allies' conduct of the war was effectively the result of one man's intransigence.
There is very little, or rather not enough, about the USAAF contribution (though that is not the subject of the book) or about the German hardware and aircraft, or even much detailed description of how the electronic aids to navigation actually worked. You need to read other authors to get the full picture.
There is also little on the gung-ho stuff like the Dam Busters and tallboy bombs-but the book is much the better for that. It shows the grinding reality and the sheer waste of life and effort, by both protagonists, rather than the stiff upper lip heroism of postwar fiction.
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on 14 January 2017
Amazing introduction into the RAF's bombing offensive. Lacks detail on some of the later raids, especially Dresden, where he covers nothing of the raid of note.

It tries to cover more of the reaction/views on the bomber command, yet doesn't really delve onto the publics opposition much.
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on 15 January 2017
Excellent, I have enjoyed the author's other books and this was no exception. A relative of mine died serving with Bomber Command and this was one of my reasons for reading this book. I found it fascinating and it didn't drag, as I have found is the case with some books on military history that I have read. It has motivated me to examine more closely the divisive figure of Arthur Harris.
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on 29 August 2013
This is a carefully-researched, well-argued history which sets out a convincing picture of what Bomber Command achieved - and failed to achieve - in WWII. It's readable, covers a wealth of personal (often harrowing) experiences and summarises key areas of strategic and tactical decision-making in a way that will make sense to someone like myself who has many gaps in knowledge and awareness of that period. Max Hastings makes his own views clear but avoids appearing dogmatic or prejudiced; he comes down fairly on all sides of the controversies that continue to blur recognition of what the war in the air meant to those involved.
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on 23 February 2018
interesting book on a controversial subject , but also highlights the bravery of bomber crews
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on 17 October 2015
Outstanding book and with my Father having been a Pathfinder during WW II, this has been revelation to me. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Truly exceptional and should be mandated reading for any student of that period and the Bomber offensive.
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on 23 October 2015
An incredible read, with accounts from people of the time - airmen and other combatants, as well as civilians, from both sides of the conflict bring the whole sorry saga of war to life for the reader. The death and destruction inflicted on all sides is catastrophic, but the bravery and sacrifice of our airmen is also very well depicted. A great read.
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