Bomber Boys, Fighting Back 1940-1945

B1416

The author is a war correspondent and employs the style of the journalist making this an involving and easy to read work. The research has been well done and tells the story of the people involved in a unique period of warfare. The book includes two of the traditional black and white plates sections, but also includes images, maps and sketches within the text body. Since 1945 a great deal has been written about the air war during World War Two. There are some excellent books covering the technology developed and employed, the political, tactical and strategic aspects, and detailed journal style accounts of the phases of the air war. Britain entered the war in 1939 ill-prepared. The development and production of improved fighter aircraft had been given priority. The RAF divided its fighting force into Fighter Command, Bomber Command and Coastal Command. By 1939 Fighter Command had just become a monoplane force, its biplanes only recently placed into reserve.

What no one can deny is the amazing courage of crews, not just in a single skirmish but night after night until they became casualties or completed their tour. Once the tour was complete another would soon begin. Maintaining morale against those combat pressures is a tribute to the men and the commanders. Bishop has brilliantly captured the human aspects of fighting the bomber war. He has painted a vivid picture of characters, feelings, motivations, determination, personal courage and the resilience of youth. This is an effective tribute to a generation of airmen who have been poorly treated by history.

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USAF Fighter Stories, a New Selection

B1292

The author is based in Suffolk, England, where the remains of WWII airfields are still much in evidence and where there are a number of museums large and small dedicated to preserving the heritage of the air war of 1939-1945. During WWII, Eastern England was a static aircraft carrier with airfields built within seven miles of each other. Even in 2005, a pilot over flying the area will see the runways and the marks in the ground where runways have been dug up and the materials used for new construction work. Many control towers remain, together with the ubiquitous Nissen and Quonset huts used for accommodation, stores, workshops and even for hangers. To visit one of these long abandoned airfields in a misty winter’s day the ghosts of those days can still be felt. Movies and actual war film are frequently played on television. So much is preserved and yet the one fragile element is the memories of those who took part in the conflict. The author has brought us a new selection of these personal memories from the fighter pilots of the USAAF, the ‘little friends’ who escorted the bombers on daylight raids deep into occupied Europe. These memories are so clear and evocative, of brave young men who faced such daunting odds and overcame, and of comrades who fell in battle.

tinyurl.com/2sx4td

USAAF Handbook 1939-1945

B1216

The Sutton Handbook series provides very good value for money and this book is no exception. This is one of those books that is truly in the ” if you only buy one book on the subject, this is the one to buy” category. The author demonstrates command of his subject and a carefully researched work. There are many first class photographs and sketches, drawings and tables illustrating a well written text. Whatever knowledge the reader has of the subject, there will be something new to learn from this book. All aspects receive coverage, history, clothing, equipment, aircraft, training, operations, people, politics. A highly recommended book.

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U-boats

B1107

This is a definitive record of U-boats from 1914-45. Conway rightly enjoys a reputation for publishing carefully researched and comprehensively illustrated navel titles. This is no exception. The text is well supported with black and white photographs, line drawings, and cut-aways. There is also a wealth of information in tables. An excellent book, essential to all those interested in naval history. If you only have space for one book on U-boats, this is the book to buy.

tinyurl.com/3736xp

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Type VII U-Boat

B1232

The long awaited reprint of this definitive anatomy of the Type VII U-Boat. The quality of the early edition has not left much room for improvement and inevitably the cover price has increased. Interestingly, the price is lower in real terms and Conway have done very well to achieve this without compromise of a definitive work. This edition is very slightly thinner suggesting that some savings have been made by using a lighter weight paper and/or binding, but it is hard to see any difference close up. The interesting innovation has been to adopt the publishing standard evolved during the life of the Anatomy of the Ship series.

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Twenty Million Tons Under The Sea

B1058

This is an excellent non-fiction WWII book which tells the story of U-505. The scene is set with a synopsis of the opening actions of WWII by U-Boats, but the story of U-505 starts with her keel laying, follows her deployment and operation, to her capture by a US Navy hunter-killer group in the Atlantic, through to her preservation and exhibition at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry as one of the few to survive. A tale of suspense and excitement.

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Tugboats

B1097

This is a well illustrated coverage of one of the most important types of vessel. As an American view, the title is something of a misnomer because many US boats shove rather than tug, but ‘tugboat’ has come to describe any vessel used in rivers and harbours to assist larger vessels to manoeuvre, to tow barges or disabled vessels and to perform ocean recovery of vessels in danger. Very good colour images illustrate a readable and informative text that covers not only the different types of tugboats, but also their equipment, crews, and methods of operation

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Trafalgar and the Spanish Navy

B1255

Histories of the Napoleonic Wars and the periods immediately before and after focus on British and French seapower. There is a widespread belief that the Spanish Navy ceased to have any importance after the defeat of the Armada in 1588 by a small force of British ships. The author attempts to straighten the record with a sympathetic review of Spanish warship design and construction, its officer corps, and naval infrastructure, concluding with the significance of the Battle of Trafalgar to Spain. Clear text and good illustration make this an interesting and rewarding read.

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To The Sea

B1180

This is really a maritime compendium. If you wanted a single book to give to someone who knew little of the sea, this is it. It is a large format book with extensive illustration and crisp text on heavy paper. It is tempting to describe it as a ‘coffee table’ book, which is a role it could fulfill, but that would not do it justice. It covers virtually every aspect of maritime heritage and practice in a single volume. To pack that scope inside a single cover is an achievement, but to do it well is amazing. There are stunning full colour photographs. There are atmospheric black and white photographs, there are reproductions of charts and paintings, there are excellent drawings, and there is crisp text, all for less than £30 – a lesson to other publishers that a quality printing, perfect binding and extensive illustration should not require the reader to seek a second mortgage. This is a book that should grace all libraries, but if you do want a coffee table book, make sure it’s a sturdy coffee table.

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Titanic Women and Children First

B0113

This book is quite different from the mass of other books which have been published on this topic. Geller has told the story of Titanic through the experiences of a selection of the women and children who travelled onboard the doomed ship. The full horrors of the disaster are brought home through these accounts. Geller also explores their subsequent lives and how Titanic continued to affect the rest of their lives. The book is well illustrated with photographs of the people featured and colour photographs of the artefacts recovered from the wreck. I feel this account will become increasingly significant to future generations in helping them to understand the human aspect of this tragedy and the type of people who sailed on these great liners before WWI.

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