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Fighter Boys: The Battle of Britain, 1940
     

Fighter Boys: The Battle of Britain, 1940

by Patrick Bishop
 

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For 123 days in the summer of 1940, 3,000 youthful airmen in the Royal Air Force fought back against Hitler’s advancing forces with a  heroism that astonished the world. Drawing on interviews with scores of surviving pilots as well as diaries and letters never before seen, military historian and journalist Patrick Bishop re-creates with astonishing intimacy

Overview

For 123 days in the summer of 1940, 3,000 youthful airmen in the Royal Air Force fought back against Hitler’s advancing forces with a  heroism that astonished the world. Drawing on interviews with scores of surviving pilots as well as diaries and letters never before seen, military historian and journalist Patrick Bishop re-creates with astonishing intimacy and clarity this excruciating, exhilarating war of nerves. In their own words, the pilots describe what it was like to bale out from a stricken plane, to go into battle in the face of overwhelming odds, to hear the screams of a comrade as he went down in flames. With a riveting, taut narrative, Fighter Boys relates how those young heroes changed the course of World War II—and the history of the modern world.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In a sometimes painfully objective treatise, Bishop (Daily Telegraph; The Provisional IRA) narrates not only the Battle of Britain but also the development of the Royal Air Force from the mid-1930s until the war, complete with all the mistakes and misconceptions of training and strategy. To this he adds the perspective of the pilots themselves-through interviews, diaries, and letters-resulting in one of the first books to deal with the Battle of Britain without reflecting the glamour and romance of Allied propaganda. Bishop stresses that the pilots came from all classes of society, thus creating a meritocracy within the RAF, and he illuminates the role that the sergeant pilots played in the campaign. The intense training period is investigated, as is the air forces' role during the Battle for France, which precluded the terrific air campaign fought during the summer of 1940, when 3000 brave young men held off successive waves of attacking Luftwaffe fighters. The German viewpoint is also presented here, making Fighter Boys a well-rounded book. Recommended for all collections.-David Lee Poremba, Detroit P.L. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A spirited account of what Winston Churchill deemed the Royal Air Force’s "finest hour": the defense of English skies against the advancing Luftwaffe in the summer of 1940. Since Churchill’s day, the Battle of Britain has been among the most heavily studied episodes of WWII--and rightly so, the four-month-long dogfight having been one of the early turning points of that great conflict, setting the stage for future Allied victories. Daily Telegraph associate editor Bishop adds to the literature twofold. By focusing on the young men who, smitten by visions of heroism and fed in childhood on tales of WWI aces real (Albert Ball) and fictional (James Bigglesworth), made up the fighter wings of the RAF in the opening days of the war against Hitler, he first delivers a class-conscious, highly personalized view of the battle. "You did not need ties of blood or romance to feel a particular bond with the Fighter Boys," he writes of his contemporary compatriots. "The backgrounds of the 3,000 or so pilots flying Hurricanes and Spitfires in the summer of 1940 reflected the social composition of the nation." Which is to say, unlike the British army, the RAF was made up of men who, in the main, had come from the working class or risen from the ranks, whose notions of patriotism and duty were a shade different from those of the upper crust. (For all that, one of Bishop’s heroes is Denis Wissler, an heir to the fortune wrought by Marmite, the strange vegetable spread beloved of the English.) Second, Bishop draws liberally on the memories of the Luftwaffe pilots who flew against England, many of whom believed, in the words of one, that "it would be possible to beat the English in England the way we hadbeaten them in France." As, of course, they did not: and whereas the Battle of Britain didn’t, strictly speaking, bleed the Luftwaffe dry, Bishop does a good job of considering the implications of the German failure in light of subsequent developments throughout the European theater of operations. Nicely written and rich in detail: a winner for students of aerial warfare.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780142004661
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
07/27/2004
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
464
Sales rank:
1,086,474
Product dimensions:
5.61(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.02(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Patrick Bishop, associate editor at the Daily Telegraph (London), is the originator of the television series The Irish Empire and the author of the highly acclaimed book The Provisional IRA. A foreign correspondent who covered the Middle East, Africa, and the Balkans, Bishop has also written books about the Falklands conflict and the Gulf War.

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