Category: History / European
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 29 March 2004
Number of pages: 464
In the summer of 1940, the future of Britain and the free world depended on the morale and skill of the young men of Fighter Command. This is their story. The Battle of Britain is one of the most crucial battles ever fought, and the victory of Fighter Command over the Luftwaffe has always been celebrated as a classic feat of arms. But, as Patrick Bishop shows in this superb history, it was also a triumph of the spirit in which the attitudes of the pilots themselves played a crucial part. Reaching beyond the myths to convey the fear and exhilaration of life on this most perilous of frontlines, Patrick Bishop offers an intimate and compelling account that is a soaring tribute to the exceptional young men of Fighter Command.
This is a study of the lives and times of the British fighter pilots who comprised RAF Fighter Command from the build-up to war through to the Battle of Britain. The focus is not just on the wider strategic picture, but on the experiences of the men and women involved in the conflict. Many of the diaries, memoirs and letters featured belong to those at the 'point of the spear', the cockpits of the Spitfire and Hurricane fighters. Of course books like this have been seen many times before - Bishop has not chosen a neglected period of British history to study, nor does his book sheer away from an irritatingly familiar jingoistic approach to the subject matter. The summer of 1940 maintains a peculiar hold on the British public imagination, immortalised in book and film as the heroic time when Britain stood alone. Perhaps attempts to study this from a British perspective will never be free of this aura. At the same time, however, the familiar feel of the period allows the reader to slip easily into a text which carefully avoids becoming bogged down in detail, and draws from an impressive selection of interesting personal histories. Both moving and exciting, the book is also careful not to neglect the harsher elements of the air war and tries to look behind the legend of the young gentlemanly fighter pilots of the era. The more unpleasant tales of the demolishing of the idea of chivalry in the air, the appalling strain on the psyche of the absurdly young pilots; the often unglamorous deaths of those airmen who seemed destined for greatness - all are rightly given their due. This is a well-written study of a period of British history that will perhaps never lose its fascination. (Kirkus UK)
What the papers say:
'I know of no more thoughtful nor yet more moving study of their achievement.' Max Hastings, Sunday Telegraph 'A living, breathing monument to the fighter boys.' Craig Brown, Mail on Sunday 'As a vivid chronicle of who the Battle of Britain pilots were, what motivated them, and why they were ultimately successful, "Fighter Boys" is unsurpassed.' Daily Telegraph 'No one reading this book can possibly doubt the heroism of those involved...there can't be a finer history.' James Holland, New Statesman 'Powerful yet restrained, at times almost unbearably touching.' T. J. Binyon, Evening Standard
Patrick Bishop is the author of the critically acclaimed and best-selling Fighter Boys, Bomber Boys, 3 Para and Ground Truth. Previously, he was a foreign correspondent for over twenty years, reporting from conflicts all over the world.
In Stock: 14 copies