Need opinions please.

Discussion in 'Personal Gallery' started by Aaron Brooks Wolters, Jun 13, 2010.

  1. Aaron Brooks Wolters

    Aaron Brooks Wolters Well-Known Member

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    I got two books and have started reading the first. Would like to know what you guys think of them. The first book is With Wings Like Eagles by Michael Korda. The second is Making Friends with Hitler Lord Londonderry, The Nazis and the Road To War. Just trying to get a little more knowledgeable.:oops: Any feedback is greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    #2 Colin1, Jun 13, 2010
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2010
    Aaron
    you said it right there. You'll take information from these books, and others, and paint your own picture of events. It will be unique and when you enter a debate, you'll see things from a perspective that others might not have.

    Not heard of the two books myself, God knows I've already got a large backlog of reading material; here's the write-ups for both books though.

    1. With Wings Like Eagles: A History of the Battle of Britain. Any new history of World War II must clear a high bar to distinguish itself from the competitors that fill the shelves of libraries and bookstores. As our so-called Greatest Generation fades away, its memory appears better preserved than that of any other cohort of combatants in modern history, thanks to hundreds (if not thousands) of popular histories, memoirs, scholarly and military treatises dissecting the period and its players.

    Michael Korda's "With Wings Like Eagles," his new volume on the Battle of Britain, clears this hurdle in a modest way, by stepping back from the minutiae of the clash between the Royal Air Force and the Luftwaffe in 1940 to focus on the truly critical events that determined the outcome. The book soars in those parts in which Korda describes how the British prepared for the war in the skies, or how the Germans failed time and again to deliver a knockout blow.

    Determining the decisive point of any battle is the quintessential challenge of wartime command. The great military leaders have possessed a preternatural ability to see through the fog of war, as von Clausewitz described it, to find that moment and marshal their forces at precisely the time and place, and in precisely the right manner, to prevail against an enemy attempting to do exactly the same thing.

    In the late 1930s, Britain's politicians and generals could see war over the horizon. After watching German and Italian forces advance into parts of Europe and Africa, they could visualize how that war might look. Enormous uncertainty reigned, however, about whether Germany could be placated diplomatically; how much help Britain's allies would offer in its defense; whether and how Germany would attack the British homeland; and how the British should fight the overwhelmingly stronger German military.

    These questions needed to be answered before the war even started - and answered correctly for Britain to survive. After France's defeat and the British retreat from the beaches of Dunkirk, and with Germany gathering barges on the French coast for its planned invasion of Britain, there was no margin for error.

    Enter Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding, head of the Royal Air Force's Fighter Command from 1936 to November 1940. Dowding, a Scot by birth, began his military career as an artillery officer, but transferred to the Royal Flying Corps during the early days of World War I. He rose quickly, commanding an air squadron in France during that war, but was pushed out of his command after clashing with his superiors over how much rest his pilots should get between missions. Dowding went on to the Royal Air Force, rising in rank there and joining its prestigious Air Council in 1930.

    Many accounts praise the invention of radar and the subsequent erection of radar towers around the British Isles, but few describe the Fighter Command system as well as Korda. The essential element was not the radar antennas themselves but the method by which radar reports were fused together in operations centers to produce a three-dimensional picture of the aerial battlefield in near real time. This innovation enabled the British to see the German formations as they approached and to efficiently deploy their fighters in ways that both maximized their lethality and deceived the Germans as to their numbers. Ultimately, more than anything else, it was this system that proved decisive.

    But Korda's narrative stalls when he injects the stories of pilots who fought in the Battle of Britain (he also heaps praise on the valorous men and women who staffed radar control towers, ground control rooms, maintenance crews and all the other units that combined to support Britain's aces in the air). Korda was himself a member of the Royal Air Force years after the battle, and he writes with reverence for those who served during the war. But valiant as their exploits were, the emphasis on these tactical stories undermines Korda's main subject: how the British set the conditions for victory by making sound operational and strategic decisions before the first fighter sorties ever flew.

    Korda's history offers some insight for American strategists today, particularly those focused on the question of how to organize this country against its myriad enemies. Our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines have proved their courage around the world. Valor alone, however, will not ensure victory. As "With Wings Like Eagles" demonstrates, we must first choose the right strategy, as the British did, and then choose the right form and shape for our military before our forces ever reach the battlefield.




    2. Making Friends with Hitler: Lord Londonderry, the Nazis, and the Road to War Charles Stewart Henry Vane-Tempest-Stewart, the 7th Marquess of Londonderry, was born to power and command. Scion of one of Britain's most aristocratic families, cousin of Churchill and confidant of the king, owner of vast coal fields and landed estates, married to the doyenne of London's social scene, Londonderry was an ornament to his class, the 0.1 percent of the population who still owned 30 percent of England's wealth as late as 1930.

    But history has not been kind to "Charley," as the king called him, because, in his own words, he "backed the wrong horse," and a very dark horse indeed: Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party. Londonderry was hardly the only British aristocrat to do so, but he was the only Cabinet member to do so, and it ruined him. In a final irony, his grand London house was bombed by the German Luftwaffe in the blitz.


    Ian Kershaw is not out to rehabilitate Lord Londonderry but to understand him and to expose why he was made a scapegoat for views that were much more widely held than anyone now likes to think. H. L. Mencken famously said that "for every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong." The conventional explanation of the coming of World War II is a simple story of the West's craven appeasement of Hitler in the face of his bullying.

    Through the story of how Lord Londonderry came to be mixed up with the Nazis and how it all went horribly wrong for him, Ian Kershaw shows us that behind the familiar cartoon is a much more complicated and interesting reality, full of miscalculations on both sides, miscalculations that proved to be among the most fateful in history.
     
  3. ozhawk40

    ozhawk40 Active Member

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    Funny enough ABW, I just finished reading "With Wings Like Eagles" yesterday! Picked it up at Borders for a read while travelling. To be honest, I didn't get alot from it, but it would serve as a good intro to the BoB. It is less about actual air combat and more about the politics and war strategy pursued by English and Germany, including the importance of Radar and Fighter Control in the battle. Gives proper credit to Dowding for success.

    In that regard it puts together all the pieces of Dowding's strategy and makes it understandable to the reader why the Brit's made the decisions the way they did, and how this affected the outcome.

    You could could get a similar understanding by watching BoB the movie which covers all the highlight's in the book, in a couple of hours. If you haven't see that movie, it would hold your interest reasonable well.

    cheers

    Peter
     
  4. Aaron Brooks Wolters

    Aaron Brooks Wolters Well-Known Member

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    #4 Aaron Brooks Wolters, Jun 13, 2010
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2010
    Thank you Colin. I have started With Wings Like Eagles and it is like a behind the scenes run on what was going on. Just saw your post Peter and thank you once I've read the book I will find the movie and watch it. Seeing as how I am completely ignorant of politics and government during WWII this is sort of interesting. I've always been more into the machinery, aircraft, guns, ships, and so on.
     
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