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on December 10, 2011
Max Arthur has collected In the words of the pilots what they did in the battle of Britain. Many of the pilots are not well known by most readers. The book gives the reader a good idea of every day life in the battle. One pilot said after waiting for the call to scramble "He would never have a telephone in his home when the war is over". But the one I liked the most was a young pilot who said 'He was not fighting for the king but for Me Mum". You will have to read the book to find out who said it. Lots of war time photos round out the book I enjoyed reading every word!.
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on July 15, 2017
Their courage was amazing, my dad fought with the 10th mountain in Italy. His Sargent was killed in the first week of the war so he was field promoted to Buck Sargent. One time when he was escorting a group of Germany prisoners to a detention camp one of the German prisoner struck up a conversation with him, he told him he was in a machine gun nest hidden in a building and was told to wait until my dad went back to pickup the rest of the patrol he was leading at the time so the could kill them all. My dad said his orders had been changed when he got back to his men and they were sent in a different direction. Both my dads grandparents were immigrants from Germany and my dad learned German as a young boy at his home in Missoula, MT.
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on May 27, 2017
I have many books about World War 11 and also Vietnam , with the foot soldiers . The soldiers would keep the ground safe and at the same time, the planes and helicopters would cover the air. Many of these books were so easy to understand, you could picture what was going on. This was the very first book that I read just about the polits, and it was very hard to try and make sense of what they were doing. If it was more in a story form it would of made more sense, it was very hard when it is each pilot telling their own story in short form. Everyone is grateful for what all the servicemen do for are country, to keep it safe. The book, I feel could of been written so more people could understand better what those pilots did.
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on July 25, 2015
basically a series of as recorded interviews (brief) of flyers in the BAttle of Britain.Repetitious and monotonous which is sad given
the heroic feats of the flyers. In the hands of an author not a compiler this could have been a more interesting and valuable addition
However, it is not that. Brief vignettes from some of the most heroic flyers of all time.
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on March 10, 2015
A most interesting collection of short remembrances from British, Yank and even a few German pilots in their experiences in Battle of Britain. Even though short, i found myself spellbound in reading the accounts of intercepting, attacking and dog-fighting ME-109's and other enemy aircraft. It cleverly captured the sense of the times, the aura of war and near imminent destruction by German bombers based close-by across the Channel. It also spoke to the bravery and determination of each individual as well as the collective efforts of the Brits and allies engaged in the battle, Despite its format of short page-length statements, I absorbed a good sense of what the times were like and an appreciation of the veterans who lived it.
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on October 13, 2012
As a pilot I was keen to know what "the few" thought before and after they engaged in air combat. This book from Amazon gives their story in their own words. Couldn't put it down and wanted it to go on and on. Great historical record of the Battle of Britain. A great followup to another Amazon purchase "Life as a Battle of Britain Pilot".
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on June 3, 2017
This is the tale of the Battle of Britain, but from the point of ones actually in combat. This is not about the big picture, is about the what it was like to be in the cockpit being shot at. One of the best tales was about a pilot who had to bale out. He was so high up that he took out a cigarette, light it and smoked it on the way down! There is no plot, just their memories of what it was like to be there.
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The Last of the Few is a collection of the memoirs of people who fought in the air Battle of Britain. The largest percentage of memoirs are from British RAF pilots, but there is a smattering of material from other nations pilot's attached to the RAF (New Zealand, Poland), RAF support personnel, and even a few Luftwaffe pilots.

===The Good Points===
* The stories are short-usually less that a page or two each, and move along quickly. They might capture a single day, a few hours, or even a brief incident. Rarely to they cover several days or more lengthy experiences.

* There is a nice variety. The experience of Polish pilots attached to the RAF are interesting, especially their difficulty in being mistaken for Germans when "rescued" by British farmers armed with pitchforks.

* The stories vary in the level of intimacy shared. Some pilots confess to being terrified or stressed by the constant danger, while others maintain a calm demeanor, at least outwardly. The net result is the reader gets a balanced understanding of the personality types involved, and the various means by which people in grave danger learned to cope with it.

* Some of the stories are just plain funny. The German pilot that was shot down over England figured it was as good a time as any to stop off in a pub and have a beer. Only later did his fellow pub patrons, and RAF officers, recognize his uniform. They all finished their beers and off he went to a POW camp.

* A few of the tales will stand the hair up on the back of your neck. Imagine being an RAF pilot, wiggling your wings to help shake off the shot down pilot whose parachute was tangled in your wings. Imaging being the guy in the parachute!

===The Not-So-Good Points===
* Some of the stories are better written and more interesting than others. I almost stopped reading the book during the first chapters because all the stories were very similar, rather boring, and somewhat inane. There must have been ten stories in a row where "I joined a local flying club, learned to fly, volunteered for the RAF, then got sent to a barracks somewhere to do nothing".

* Very little context of the stories is provided, so unless you understand what the Battle of Britain was really about- namely England's survival in the face of a possible German invasion- I am not sure you would appreciate the true stakes of the battles. And while it sort of comes across in the narratives, the reader doesn't really get a good appreciation from this book of just how thinly the RAF was stretched. You do get a feel for it with stories of pilots being called out of hospital beds to fly a quick mission.

* There is very little technical details, even though many of the stories take place in an airplane cockpit. How did a British Hurricane compare to a German ME109? What advantages did British radar really give?

=== Summary ===
I almost stopped reading the book very early in the text because the first few stories are just not as good as most of the later ones. There were a few which could have been skipped, or replaced with other content, but on average most were very engaging and interesting. The sheer terror these pilots were exposed to comes out, although it is in many ways understated. You can really appreciate what these men's lives were like as they engage in a casual mess-hall conversation about whether it is worse to be burned to death or chopped to bits in a mid-air collision.

The book is a fairly quick read, and not very long. You won't learn anything new about WWII, or even the Battle of Britain, but you will get a new understanding of the life of a fighter pilot in the RAF. I'd recommend it.
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on August 8, 2012
I'm about half way through. The book consists of brief excerpts and remembrances by RAF veterans from early in WW2. There are a few Germans included, but so far they don't have a lot to say. The contributions are arranged in chapters in logical sequence. You get an idea of how the recruiting worked, training, operations, formations, and general experiences. The book describes the wounds including burns in greater detail than I recall elsewhere. It is a nice and inexpensive supplement to Len Deighton's Fighter, The True Story of the Battle of Britain, which is my preferred single source
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on September 12, 2014
The Battle of Britain is not a great book, but it is a superb collection of accounts of the fighter pilots who saved Britain and, perhaps, Europe. By gathering brief stories from scores of pilots on their training and their many missions, Arthur has given us a clear look at the bravery of men who foiled Hitler and his plans to invade England. There is no dramatization - just good, first-hand accounts by those who survived.
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