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The Few: The American "Knights of the Air" Who Risked Everything to Fight in the Battle of Britainby Alex Kershaw
Synopses & Reviews
By the summer of 1940 World War II had been under way for nearly a year. Hitler was triumphant and planning an invasion of England. But the United States was still a neutral country and, as Winston Churchill later observed, "the British people held the fort alone." A few Americans, however, did not remain neutral. They joined Britain's Royal Air Force to fight Hitler's air aces and help save Britain in its darkest hour. The Few is the never-before-told story of these thrill-seeking Americans who defied their country's neutrality laws to fly side-by-side with England's finest pilots. They flew the lethal and elegant Spitfire, and became "knights of the air." With minimal training and plenty of guts they dueled the skilled pilots of Germany's Luftwaffe in the blue skies over England. They shot down several of Germany's fearsome aces, and were feted as national heroes in Britain. By October 1940, they had helped England win the greatest air battle in the history of aviation. At war's end, just one of the "Few" would be alive. The others died flying, wearing the RAF's dark blue uniform-each with a shoulder patch depicting an American eagle. As Winston Churchill said, "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."
"With his customary narrative drive, Kershaw (The Bedford Boys: One American Town's Ultimate D-Day Sacrifice) spotlights the handful of American pilots who joined the Royal Air Force and its fighter squadrons during the Battle of Britain. They have been overshadowed by or confused with the better-known Eagle Squadrons, which formed in the autumn of 1940 with the tacit consent of the U.S. government. Kershaw's 'few' were a vanguard, enlisting individually to operate the British Spitfire planes as early as May 1940, when England stood alone and her odds of survival seemed long. Crusaders and adventurers, the pilots ignored U.S. neutrality acts to fight from a mixture of principled opposition to Nazism, vaguely defined Anglophilia and sheer love of air combat at a time when it still seemed glamorous. Scattered by ones and twos among different squadrons, each had his own story, which Kershaw admirably contextualizes within the climate of the Battle of Britain. Using personal vignettes to convey the extraordinary routines of life in the cockpits, in the squadrons and in England, Kershaw evokes the heroism of these pilots, only one of whom survived the war whose tide they helped turn." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[A] rousing story of idealistic Americans who fought against the Nazis... A delight for military buffs." Kirkus Reviews
The never-before-told story of the American pilots--idealists, adventurers, romantics--who joined the RAF before America entered the war in order to fight Hitler and save Britain
From the acclaimed author of "The Bedford Boys" and "The Longest Winter" comes the never-before-told story of the American pilots--idealists, adventurers, romantics--who joined the RAF before America entered the war in order to fight Hitler and save Britain.
About the Author
Alex Kershaw is the author of the widely acclaimed and best-selling books The Bedford Boys and The Longest Winter, and two biographies: Jack London and Blood and Champagne: The Life and Times of Robert Capa. He has been a journalist and screenwriter in Britain and now lives in Bennington, Vermont.
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