The Battle of Britain
James Holland has chosen May 1939 as the start of the Battle of Britain for this excellent study of a crucial time in British (and arguably world) history. This is a comprehensive piece of work which not only produces the historical facts and dates in a readable and interesting way, but portrays intimate human portraits of the men and women on both sides of the war. Both sides made many mistakes during the air battle over Britain, as Holland notes in his excellent technical analysis. British tactics were poor, senior RAF thinking unimaginative. Dowding’s fighters were undergunned, and carried only a quarter of the ammunition of German Messerschmitt 109s. While, on the German side, an obsession with dive-bombing caused the Luftwaffe to focus on Stukas, only to discover over England that they were fatally vulnerable to fighters.
Holland is excellent on the telling detail, which without being pedantic provides a unique insight. Well researched with extensive maps and figures, this is a notable account of epic human experience, told in an informal and enthusiastic way which brings alive a familiar story. This is historical non fiction at its best and is a fitting tribute to all those who were involved. Recommended.