From Publishers Weekly
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. (Nov.)
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In the summer of 1940, World War II was in its second year and Adolf Hitler was planning to invade England. The U.S. had not yet entered the war, but a few Americans joined Britain's Royal Air Force. Flying Spitfire planes, they became known as the "knights of the air." In doing so, they would break several neutrality laws and became what Kershaw terms "outlaws in their own country." Kershaw, author of The Bedford Boys
(2003) and The Longest Winter
(2004), tells the story of these pilots; 244 U.S. citizens eventually flew with the RAF Eagle Squadrons. Only 1 survived the war. But according to the RAF's official roster in 1940, just 7 Americans belonged to "the few." These were the Americans who fought during the greatest air battle in history, labeled the Battle of Britain. Like his other books, Kershaw has written a rousing tale of little-known heroes. With 32 pages of black-and-white photographs, The Few
marks Kershaw as a master storyteller. George CohenCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved