In the summer of 1940, fewer than three thousand young fighter pilots of the Royal Air Force stood between Hitler and the victory that seemed almost within his grasp.
In this superb history of three epic months that saved the world, Michael Korda brilliantly re-creates the intensity of combat in "the long, delirious, burning blue" of the sky above southern England—while tracing, perhaps for the first time, the entire complex web of political, diplomatic, scientific, industrial, and human decisions during the 1930s that inexorably led to the world's first, greatest, and most decisive air battle. With Wings Like Eagles brings to vivid life the extraordinary men and women on both sides of the conflict—from Winston Churchill, Neville Chamberlain, and Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring to the ground crews, the German pilots, the American volunteers, and the courageous airmen and airwomen of the RAF.
Summer, 1940: western Europe has been conquered, and all that stands between Hitler and the invasion of England is the matter of air supremacy. And the RAF...
Hitler’s top-secret Directive No. 16, July 1940: ‘The English air force must be beaten down to such an extent, that it can no longer muster any power of attack worth mentioning against the German advance.’
‘Fighter’ is Len Deighton’s thrilling history of the ensuing Battle of Britain – the aerial combat between the RAF and the Luftwaffe that was fought over the summer of 1940. Ex-RAF pilot Deighton has written a balanced study of strategies and tactics that also expertly recounts the development of the aeroplanes that fought each other in the skies – the Spitfires and Messerschmitts – and of radar. Behind the strategies and tactics, and in the cockpits of the aeroplanes, are the men brought vividly to life by Deighton’s skill as a novelist.
It was, of course, the Battle of Britain, or rather its conclusion, that prompted one of Winston Churchill's most memorable pieces of oratory that has its epitome in the sentence, 'Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.' If the Battle of Britain had been lost it is very likely the New Order to which the Axis powers had pledged themselves would have become global with unthinkable consequences for the world afterwards.
The importance of the Battle of Britain cannot be exaggerated though inevitably in the succeeding years the accretion of myth has brought about many distortions. This multi-faceted symposium emerged from the Centre of Second World War Studies at Edinburgh University with the aim, in the words of the editors, 'to reassess established themes while opening up new ones.' After a masterly introduction by Brian Bond, the book is divided into six parts: Before the Battle; The Battle; The View from Afar; Experience and Memory; The Making of a British Legend and The Significance.
The contributors are: Klaus A. Maier; Malcolm Smith; Horst Boog; Sebastian Cox; Sergei Kudryshov; Richard P. Hallion; Theodore F. Cook; Hans-Ekkehard Bob; Wallace Cunningham; Nigel Rose; Owen Dudley Edwards; Angus Calder; Tony Aldgate; Adrian Gregory; Jeremy Lake and John Schofield; Paul Addison and Jeremy A. Crang and Richard Overy.
No survey could be more wide-ranging or fascinating. First published in 2000 to mark the 60th anniversary, it is now being reissued in 2010 to mark the 70th anniversary.
'But it is terrific. It's not only an acknowledgement of the heroism of the fighter pilots (and all the ancillary crew), but a serious contribution to the historical record. Seventeen contributors write about the Battle from pretty much every conceivable angle; and Addison and Crang have chosen them well. . . This is not an automatically worshipful book; it poses questions about the morality of war, the existence of heroism, the reliability of memory. But it treats the subject honestly and with justice. And it tells us why we won: because, it would appear, it helps to come from a society that is sceptical of authority rather than in blind, unthinking terror of it.' Nicholas Lezard, Guardian
''This book is a first-class piece of work, stimulating, informative and concise.' Brian Holden Reid, Times Higher Education Supplement.
'This is a nugget of a book . . . it assembles, most readably, a range of authoritative and international views on the Battle, its history, and its significance.' Air Chief Marshall Sir Michael Graydon, Royal United Services Institute
'This is a much told story, but the varied viewpoints of the 20 contributors to Burning Blue - ranging from a fascinating essay by Owen Dudley Edwards on the air war as reflected in children's literaturer to the memories of pilots who fought in it on both sides - give an impressive breadth and depth. And even though it strips away hindsight and refuses to burnish legends, what is left is still one of the most remarkable stories in the whole of British history. The British empire didn't last a thousand years, but the man was right: this truly was its finest hour.' David Robinson, The Scotsman
Individual chapters focus on campaigns and operations from both World Wars and a series of post-1945 crises and conflicts from the Palestine Patrol in the 1940s to Royal Navy operations in support of British policy in the 1990s. Each case study demonstrates critical features of maritime power including: operations during the transition to war; fleet operations in narrow seas; logistics; submarine operations; the impact of air power on maritime operations; blockade; maritime power projection; amphibious warfare; jurisdictional disputes and the law of the sea; and, peace support operations.
The contributors to this book all have considerable experience lecturing on these issues at the United Kingdom Joint Services Command and Staff College, where maritime campaign analysis is used to teach the principles of maritime power to officers of the Royal Navy. The book combines an authoritative examination of critical Royal Navy operations during the twentieth century with a sophisticated analysis of the nature of maritime power. As such it is of both historical interest and contemporary relevance and will prove equally valuable to academic historians, military professionals and the general reader.
In this third volume of a six-volume series, Winston Churchill draws upon thousands of personal memoranda, war correspondence, and internal government memos to describe the full entry of the US into World War II--adding considerable strength to British military operations and morale. While America had contributed to the British war effort before, primarily through the "Lend-Lease" program providing material support to Britain and later to Russia, it was Churchill who finally persuaded an isolationist US Congress to fully join the cause.
This account not only documents historical events with thrilling immediacy--it also gives intimate insight into Churchill's state of mind as a military leader. With the US on Britain's side, Churchill's certainty of success stayed with him throughout the war--and made him the indomitable leader history remembers.
This is the compelling story of the most exciting and decisive battles fought under harsh Arctic conditions during the Second World War. Each battle is described in detail, with discussions of the various weapons and strategies that led to victory or defeat, and an analysis of how the battle affected the overall course of the war. The failure of early attempts to supply the Soviets with vital mat DEGREESD'eriel would eventually give rise to tensions among the Allies that would continue long after the end of the war, and would ultimately lead to the Cold War. Despite the fears of many men on both sides that they were being sacrificed for political expediency, their brave and heroic actions became an integral part of the war effort for each coalition.
The Arctic was a difficult and costly theater where battle was often characterized by massive convoys and lurking U-Boats. Some of the worst weather in history hit the Arctic in the midst of the war, making the elements as tough an opponent as any human enemy. The enormous scope of the war, combined with political and economic limitations to restrict the available resources of both sides. Evans's access to recently declassified documents and his use of the personal accounts and reflections of the men who fought there sheds an entirely new light on this often-neglected theater.