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What were those Bomber Boys up to?

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07.12.2010

Advantages:
lots of information and facts

Disadvantages:
too dry

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I once promised myself I would never sit and try to read a book I found boring. For some reason however I find myself keep coming back to this one.

Bomber Boys is the story of bomber command, the men who made the decisions and the brave young men from all across the Commonwealth who volunteered to serve in this 'elite' force - elite because up until the advent of war flying was a rich mans game with the common man unable to comprehend of flying their own plane. I first dug this out of my pile of books to read after my visit to the 'Airforces Memorial' in Egham as I wanted to learn more about those many names I had read on the memorial panels and coincidentally this summer there was a flurry of news articles about the campaign to build a memorial to Bomber command in London.

Obviously the book is written in very different style to that of other books published recently which concern modern warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan, and I think for me this is where the dry, factual accounting becomes hard going to read, yet there are occasional passages which make the hard slog worth while when you stumble upon an excerpt from a personal diary or interview, at this point though the style of the author does tend to the dry and humourless some of the personality of those long ago fliers shines through.

The book discusses the early days of the air war over Germany, the technology which made raids easier and safer for our fliers while making the German Luftwaffe work that bit harder, it also talks frankly about the actions taken against fliers who suffered from a loss of nerve and haphazard way many crews were formed, yet in the views of many of those crews haphazard it may have been but more importantly it was effective. The mixing of men from different classes and even cultures as commonwealth fliers came to the UK to join the RAF.

One chapter in particular focuses on the transitory nature of human relationships in this period, where young men and women were often thrown together in their working capacity in ways which pre war would have been unthinkable.

Written in part from diaries, newspapers and flying logs of the time as well as interviews with those surviving pilots and crew who were willing to give interviews. Flicking through the bibliography many of the sources are held by the Imperial War Museum rather than private collections.

Unfortunately I find I cannot recommend this as a book to read for pleasure, it is I expect one well worth a read if you have an interest in the specifics of the RAF and in particular Bombers during WW2, but I would suggest treating it as a text book and using its bibliography to find further reading. Yes it is packed with information and facts but with so much of the detail coming from personal rather than official sources originally I find that it has become bland and for the most part missing the human touch found in for example Bishop's more recent publication '3 Para'.

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Comments about this review »

kevin121 07.12.2010 18:07

Certainly one of the more important eras of the RAF, what a shame it's a disapointment. Rachael.

Kasaf 07.12.2010 14:11

Great review, I've always had an interest in the RAF, might give it a read sometime :)

koshkha 07.12.2010 10:56

It's a shame when such important events are delivered in such a poor way.

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Manufacturer's product description

Pages: 448, Hardcover, HarperPress

Product details

Type Non-Fiction
Genre History
Title Bomber Boys: Fighting Back 1940-1945

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Listed on Ciao since 25/09/2007

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