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December 26, 2012

Book Review - The Battle of Britain by James Holland

Many thought Great Britain would fall to the Nazi onslaught during that fateful Summer of 1940. The country stood alone against the German juggernaut. France had just fallen; the Soviet Union was still ostensibly allied with Hitler's regime; the United States was still "neutral," though they did help the British out in a few capacities.

Adolf Hitler wanted to get Britain to sue for peace so he could concentrate on the Soviets. If that took an invasion, so be it. If Germany could pound Britain into submission via bombing, that would work too. Either way, the British Air Force must be destroyed.

I've read a few books on the months-long air battle known as "The Battle of Britain," but nothing as comprehensive as James Holland's book, also called The Battle of Britain: Five Months that Changed History. For one thing, it does what most other books on the battle don't do: it goes in-depth into the battle for France, and shows us just what that invasion did to both the British and Germans in preparation for the coming battle.

My review of the book is up on Curled Up With a Good Book, and it posted during my blogging hiatus, which is why you've never seen it.

From the review:
"The trick Holland uses is the ability to bring the battles home to the reader with intimate accounts of the war efforts, both in their planning and execution. Holland does spend considerable time on the pilots and the air force tactics, both in the traditional sense and as it pertains to the French invasion and the evacuation of the British forces at Dunkirk. He also covers the invasion of France itself, the strategy and tactics used by the Germans to gain surprise and cut the Allied forces in two. He discusses the big picture but also zooms in on individual pilots and soldiers, taking the reader down into the heart of the fighting.

Holland is able to do this because many of his sources are journals by or actual interviews with those who were involved in the day-to-day terror and bravery of the effort. The Battle of Britain is full of anecdotes and memories from those who were actually involved, some of whom died between Holland's interviews and the actual publication of this book. The richness of the history by those who lived it adds an immediate quality to the book that raises it above any other chronicle of the battle that I have read."
I loved that aspect of the book. It really made me feel like I was sitting in a bar across from these men, having a beer and listening to them tell me stories.

The book is very well-written and is a joy to read. There's just so much information there, and it's all interesting. I had trouble putting it down.

Check out the review and let me know what you think.


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