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Customer Review

on June 4, 2011
With the plethora of reading material out there dedicated to the Battle of Britain you would be justified in asking `why do we need another book on the subject?' Well, Michael Korda's With Wings Like Eagles: A History of the Battle of Britain is not merely another book on the Battle of Britain, it is a tour de force historiography worth its weight in gold to any serious student of WWII history.

What makes Korda's book unique within the mass of books out there is its focus on how `the Few' got a chance to realistically defend, and maintain the defense of, Britain from the Lauftwaffe onslaught in Summer-Fall of 1940. With Wings Like Eagles: A History of the Battle of Britain could have been titled "Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding: The Architect of Britain's Finest Hour" since Dowding is clearly the linchpin holding this story together. As Commanding-in-Chief of RAF Fighter Command from its inception (1936) until the end of the Battle of Britain, Dowding almost singlehandedly developed Britain's tactical defense against the bomber war prophesized in H.G. Wells' apocalyptic film "The Shape of Things To Come" (1936) [which coincidentally was produced by Korda's uncle Alexander Korda!]. Conventional wisdom in the mid 1930's was that bombers would decide the next war, obliterating cities and whole populations, and that there was no realistic defense against this - "the bombers will always get through" was the word of the day. Dowding refused to buy into this paranoia and set into motion events within Fighter Command that would allow the RAF to defend against this vision of death. Without Dowding's vision and persistence of will the Battle of Britain would probably not have even been an afterthought in history.

Korda brings to life the man who was Dowding, as well as the commanders and fliers under his command, and how the rivalries and cooperation among these men brought about one of the proudest moments in British history. This is a gripping story, well told and meticulously researched. 5 solid stars!
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