Synopses & Reviews
The first in-depth account of the WWII raid that almost defeated England.
Seven months after the Nazi Blitz began in September 1940, London remained the center of the free world's resistance to Hitler's Germany. But-contrary to popular belief-the city's "all-in-together" camaraderie was disintegrating after two devastating Luftwaffe raids. Civil Defenses were chronically short of volunteers and newspapers reported looting, petty crime, and price-gouging.
But there was reason for optimism. Churchill remained steadfast, rallying the English. London hadn't been bombed in three weeks, while the RAF shot down 90 German bombers over Britain. It began to appear that the worst could be over.
So, when the air raid sirens sounded on the evening of May 10, 1941, Londoners were nonchalant. It soon became clear, however, that this was no ordinary bombing, but a devastating Luftwaffe raid that would eclipse all others.
"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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Drawing upon eyewitness accounts, Mortimer delivers the first in-depth account of the World War II air raid--London, May 10, 1941--that almost defeated England.
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.
About 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.