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With Wings Like Eagles: The Untold Story of the Battle of Britainby Michael Korda
Synopses & Reviews
Michael Korda's brilliant work of history takes the reader back to the summer of 1940, when fewer than three thousand young fighter pilots of the Royal Air Force--often no more than nine hundred on any given day--stood between Hitler and the victory that seemed almost within his grasp.
Korda re-creates the intensity of combat in the long, delirious, burning blue of the sky above southern England, and at the same time--perhaps for the first time--traces the entire complex web of political, diplomatic, scientific, industrial, and human decisions during the 1930s that led inexorably to the world's first, greatest, and most decisive air battle. Korda deftly interweaves the critical strands of the story--the invention of radar (the most important of Britain's military secrets); the developments by such visionary aircraft designers as R. J. Mitchell, Sidney Camm, and Willy Messerschmitt of the revolutionary, all-metal, high-speed monoplane fighters the British Spitfire and Hurricane and the German Bf 109; the rise of the theory of air bombing as the decisive weapon of modern warfare and the prevailing belief that the bomber will always get through (in the words of British prime minister Stanley Baldwin). As Nazi Germany rearmed swiftly after 1933, building up its bomber force, only one man, the central figure of Korda's book, Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding, the eccentric, infuriating, obstinate, difficult, and astonishingly foresighted creator and leader of RAF Fighter Command, did not believe that the bomber would always get through and was determined to provide Britain with a weapon few people wanted to believe was needed or even possible. Dowding persevered--despite opposition, shortage of funding, and bureaucratic infighting--to perfect the British fighter force just in time to meet and defeat the German onslaught. Korda brings to life the extraordinary men and women on both sides of the conflict, from such major historical figures as Winston Churchill, Neville Chamberlain, and Reichsmarschall Herman Goring (and his disputatious and bitterly feuding generals) to the British and German pilots, the American airmen who joined the RAF just in time for the Battle of Britain, the young airwomen of the RAF, the ground crews who refueled and rearmed the fighters in the middle of heavy German raids, and such heroic figures as Douglas Bader, Josef Frantiek, and the Luftwaffe aces Adolf Galland and his archrival Werner Molders.
Winston Churchill memorably said about the Battle of Britain, Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few. Here is the story of the few, and how they prevailed against the odds, deprived Hitler of victory, and saved the world during three epic months in 1940.
Korda's brilliant work of history takes the reader back to the summer of 1940, when fewer than 3,000 young fighter pilots of the Royal Air Force--often no more than 900 on any given day--stood between Hitler and the victory that seemed almost within his grasp.
Packed with rich detail and analysis of what often transpired when merchant ships were sunk by U-boats, this dramatic book highlights the hazards of World War II at sea. At its center, James P. Duffy relates the story of the sinking of the British liner Laconia by the German U-boat U-156.
On September 12, 1942, as Laconia sailed crowded with 1,800 Italian prisoners of war, 103 Polish soldiers, 286 mostly severely wounded British military personnel, 80 civilians, and 463 officers and crew, she was hit by two torpedoes fired by U-156. Laconiaand#8217;s captain ordered the vessel abandoned, and within an hour, she sank. Perhaps surprisingly, the German U-boat then surfaced and sent a signal that brought two other U-boats, an Italian submarine, and three Vichy French warships to assist with rescue operations.
The rescue operation by German ships and the subsequent bombing raid by Allied aircraft are both compelling stories and events that had major repercussions for the conduct of the war.and#160;In the wake of the incident, German admiral Karl Dand#246;nitz issued instructions known as the Laconia Order demanding that all attempts to rescue survivors from Allied merchant ships be ended. The order provoked an international outcry against inhumane treatment of survivors stranded at sea. After the war, Dand#246;nitz was charged with and acquitted of war crimes in connection with this order.
“[With Wings Like Eagles is] bold and refreshing… Korda writes with great elegance and flair.”—Wall Street Journal
From the New York Times bestselling author of Ike and Horse People, Michael Korda, comes With Wings Like Eagles, the harrowing story of The Battle of Britain, one of the most important battles of World War II. In the words of the Washington Post Book World, “With Wings Like Eagles is a skillful, absorbing, often moving contribution to the popular understanding of one of the few episodes in history … to deserve the description ‘heroic.”
About the Author
New York Times bestselling author Michael Korda's books include Ike, Charmed Lives, Horse People, Ulysses S. Grant, and Journey to a Revolution. Educated at Le Rosey in Switzerland and at Magdalen College, Oxford, he served in the Royal Air Force. He lives with his wife, Margaret, in Dutchess County, New York.
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History and Social Science » Europe » Great Britain » General History