A groundbreaking new account of the Battle of Britain from acclaimed Cambridge historian James Holland
'If Hitler fails to invade or destroy Britain, he has lost the war,' Churchill said in the summer of 1940. He was right. "The Battle of Britain" was a crucial turning point in the history of the Second World War and now, acclaimed British historian James Holland has written the definitive account of this battle based on extensive new research from around the world including thousands of new interviews with people on both sides of the fighting.
Had Britain's defenses collapsed, Hitler would have dominated all of Europe and been able to turn his full attention east to the Soviet Union. The German invasion of France and the Low Countries in May 1940 was unlike any the world had ever seen. It hit with a force and aggression that no-one could counter and in just a few short weeks, all in their way crumbled under the force of the Nazi hammer blow. With France facing defeat and with British forces pressed back to the Channel, there were few who believed Britain could possibly survive. Soon, it seemed, Hitler would have all of Europe at his feet. Yet Hitler's forces were not quite the Goliath they at first seemed, while her leadership lacked the single-minded purpose, vision and direction that had led to such success on land. Nor was Britain any David. Thanks to a sophisticated defensive system and the combined efforts of the RAF, Royal Navy as well as the mounting sense of collective defiance led by a new Prime Minister, Britain was not ready to give in to the Nazi onslaught.
From clashes between coastal convoys and Schnellboote in the Channel to astonishing last stands in Flanders, and from the slaughter by the U-boats in the icy Atlantic to the dramatic aerial battles over England, James Holland's The Battle of Britain paints a complete picture of that extraordinary summer - a time in which the fate of the world truly hung by a thread.
“This massive volume is informative, enthralling, and moving--often all three at once...Genuinely brilliant.” —Booklist
“Thoroughly researched yet written in a relaxed, enjoyable style.” —History Book Review
“…Holland is a young historian who has forged a considerable reputation, especially for his intimate human portraits of the men who fought on both sides of the war…this is a notable account of an epic human experience, told with the informality and enthusiasm that distinguish Holland's work…If the story is familiar, Holland tells it with authority and exuberant panache.” —Max Hastings, author of Winston's War, in The Sunday Times UK
“The 70th anniversary of the battle...has prompted a surge of new books and the republication of several old ones. Among the best is the comprehensive new study by James Holland... Holland's book has all the hallmarks of his previous successes: the gripping narrative; the ability to recreate the intensity of combat, the breadth of research; and the authoritative historical judgments.” —The Spectator UK
“The novelty of Holland's excellent book…lies in its extended time frame, and also in its use of first-hand sources from both sides of the conflict, and its assertion that the battle was not won by the RAF alone. Holland prefers his history to be about people, and his dazzling cast of characters includes civilians and servicemen, men and women, young and old.” —The Telegraph UK