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The Longest Night: The Bombing of London on May 10, 1941

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Overview

The Longest Night reveals the untold story of the horrific bombing raid that almost brought Britain to military collapse - using extensive survivors' testimony and previously classified documents to reveal just how close the Luftwaffe came to total victory. This vivid, dramatically told account depicts how fate shifted based on Hitler's mistaken belief that he'd actually lost the air war over Britain - and portrays the unsurpassed, "we-can-take-it" bravery of the British people when they'd been pushed beyond all ...

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The Longest Night: The Bombing of London on May 10, 1941

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Overview

The Longest Night reveals the untold story of the horrific bombing raid that almost brought Britain to military collapse - using extensive survivors' testimony and previously classified documents to reveal just how close the Luftwaffe came to total victory. This vivid, dramatically told account depicts how fate shifted based on Hitler's mistaken belief that he'd actually lost the air war over Britain - and portrays the unsurpassed, "we-can-take-it" bravery of the British people when they'd been pushed beyond all human endurance.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Drawing on scores of eyewitness accounts and previously classified records, British journalist Mortimer has written the first extensive account of the deadliest night of the 1940-1941 London Blitz. Believing that "terror attacks" against civilians would break "England's will to resist," the Luftwaffe began bombing London on September 7, 1940. Instead of caving in, however, the British responded with an endearing bravado. The great raid of May 10-"the savage climax to the Blitz"-severely strained that indomitable spirit. That night, the Germans sent 507 aircraft to drop 711 tons of bombs-including 86,173 incendiary bombs-on London. By dawn on May 11, London was near collapse. More than 2,000 fires blackened the sky, 11,000 homes lay in ruins and more than 3,000 people were dead or wounded. What Londoners did not know was that that night would be the last major raid against the city; the Blitz would end on May 16. While Mortimer focuses on London, he also switches the narrative seamlessly among the city's residents, the air crews at their bases in the English countryside and the Luftwaffe pilots attacking from their bases in occupied France. The author notes that the Blitz has become a clich to later generations and asks rhetorically if it has "relevance in modern London." The recent terrorist bombings in London's subways emphatically answer that question. (Oct.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Fisher's book about a lesser-known aspect of the Battle of Britain, the "Dowding System," using radar for air defense, crackles with energy when describing the science behind the fledgling radar and the maneuvers of reckless pilots. Fisher (cosmochemistry & environmental sciences, Univ. of Miami; A Race on the Edge of Time) also brings about real drama in describing the back-room political struggles between Churchill and Dowding's Royal Air Force (he was head of Fighter Command) in implementing the new and misunderstood tool of war. The author follows the progression of Lord Dowding from a committed, brilliant, yet vague air force commander to his loss of the post in late 1940 and transformation into a man more interested in paranormal phenomena and communing with his dead wife. Dowding's evolution should have been a riveting thread in the narrative, but instead the reader's sense of him never gains any momentum. Not recommended. Freelance journalist Mortimer's compelling narrative of one terrible, deadly night of the London Blitz intertwines multiple eyewitness accounts throughout the intense raid by the German Luftwaffe. Mortimer (Shackleton) supplies enough of the military facts to set the stage but allows the personal stories to be the main focus of the book. With perspectives from pilots (on both sides), firefighters, teenagers, and everyday families, his composite uniquely follows these people through several hours that changed their lives. Recommended for public libraries. A prolific author of military fiction (e.g., Goshawk Squadron) and some previous nonfiction, Robinson authoritatively takes on the myths surrounding the threat of a German invasion of Britain by sea in 1940. He has a wide command of the historical facts behind much of the perpetuated conventional wisdom and systematically lays out a case for how overblown the invasion scare was. Instead of the Spitfire pilots of the RAF, heroes of the Battle of Britain, preventing Hitler from launching an attack, Robinson argues that it was always British naval power that was standing by to defend and overwhelm an invasion. His arguments are compelling, but the writing and arrangement of topics is rather choppy. For military history collections only.-Elizabeth Morris, Illinois Fire Svc. Inst. Lib., Champaign Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An emotionally stirring account of the single most devastating attack on London during the Blitz. Mortimer offers an engaging, down-to-the-minute retelling of May 10-11, 1941, the night hundreds of German warplanes bombed London relentlessly, threatening Britain's standing in the war. Part military history, part chronicle of survivors' memories and part moving tribute to London, the result is reminiscent of Richard Collier's The City That Would Not Die (1960), but is a captivating and important contribution in its own right. True to his journalistic roots, Mortimer opens by introducing a large cast of characters, most of whom he personally interviewed. The experiences of those who were in and around London that fateful night drive the narrative. Readers with some prior understanding of basic events and terminology of the war may have a slight advantage, though Mortimer offers great insight into the intricacies of World War II London, its population, physical layout, architecture and history, as well as the complexities of German and British warplanes and weaponry of the period. Occasional missteps (a Luftwaffe "major raid" is defined only on the final page, for example) do nothing to diminish the heartfelt testimony of survivors who, when paired with Mortimer's dramatic renderings of what Londoners and German and British military men experienced, make for compelling non-fiction. Emphasis is placed on how fear, confusion and devastation were offset by the unprecedented ways in which Londoners came together to offer assistance. Mortimer's focus is on people, but some of the most emotionally wrenching passages concern not the terrible loss of life, but the destruction of some of London'smost beloved architectural and historical treasures. Reader-friendly, informative reporting-history that reads like a novel.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425211830
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/3/2006
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 399,008
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.04 (h) x 1.07 (d)

Meet the Author

Gavin Mortimer is a native Londoner. He began writing by freelancing for several publications, including the London Evening Standard, the Observer, and the Guardian. He has contributed articles to a richly diverse range of magazines from Esquire to BBC History to Rugby World. This is his fourth book, the first to be published in the U.S.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 19, 2013

    AP World History Book Review *** The Longest Night, written by G

    AP World History Book Review *** The Longest Night, written by Gavin Mortimer, was an interesting novel describing the details of the bombings in London England, occurring in London. The novel was both fiction and nonfiction, describing the perspectives of people involved in the horrifying battle, and dramatizing the events by adding a fictional reference of soldiers of both Britain and Germany, as well as fictional witnesses to the event. But in my opinion, I would say that it lacked a bit for me. It did not provide enough detail as many would like. That would be my only problem with this novel. It is a very interesting, gripping story, with an excellent story-line. This novel really explains the harshness of warfare to the average person, and really gives a superb perspective of warfare itself.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2013

    AP World History Review: "The Longest Night: The Bombing of

    AP World History Review: "The Longest Night: The Bombing of London on May 10, 1941" by Gavin Mortimer, was a fascinating but informative novel. It was about the devastating bombings that occurred on May 10, 1941 in London, England. Hundreds of German fighters and bombers took place in this horrific event. This novel tells the stories of many different people from London, or the surrounding areas. These people’s occupations range from civilians to people in the service to firefighters. It also has the memoirs of German and British bombers and fighter pilots. This really shows the human element in war, especially in the “home front”. A lot of the heroes of the story and most of the people that died were just your regular civilians. It really shows the other side of war.
    A quote that would sum up this book and what I think was the author’s point is, "...the city stood firm as the world looked on, even on the night of May 10, 1941, London's bloodiest and longest night. Perhaps it was also London's greatest night, the culmination a nine-month battle against fascism that ended with the symbol of the free world bruised, and battered, but unbeaten..." The author really shows how London prevails against the Germans even after the constant bombings and deaths. I would recommend this book to many different types of readers. This book is for any history buffs, military buffs, lovers of London, and for anyone who likes a good action novel. Once you pick this book up, it will be hard to put it back down. The only complaint I have against this book is since there are so many stories from so many different people, all with different points of view, the story can sometimes get very confusing. It’s hard to keep track of all of the names. Besides that last point, it is an amazing novel that deserves a five out of five.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2013

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    Posted January 1, 2011

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