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4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  1,051 ratings  ·  56 reviews
The classic novel of the Second World War that relates in devastating detail the 24-hour story of an allied bombing raid.Bomber is a novel war. There are no victors, no vanquished. There are simply those who remain alive, and those who die.Bomber follows the progress of an Allied air raid through a period of twenty-four hours in the summer of 1943. It portrays all the part...more
ebook, 576 pages
Published October 15th 2009 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 1970)
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Len Deighton’s Bomber is the best war novel I have ever read. I should say, however, that I mean “war novel” in a very specific way. This novel bears no resemblance to other, better-known classics like The Naked and the Dead or All Quite on the Western Front. There is very little inward soul-searching about the nature of man as he indulges his ultimate trade. The characterizations are almost nonexistent. The prose, at times, is barely a step up from technical writing (it is, of course, an import...more
The title of this book implies it's the story of a single British bomber crew flying over Germany during 1943. It's much more. Deighton, known for his in-depth research, has given us a very realistic portrayal of both sides, the families of the bomber crews, the German citizens and defenders. Soldiers on both sides are frustrated by awkward interpersonal relationships and comrades with differing motivations. Deighton follows the crews of several bombers, sent on night-time raid against the Ruhr....more
Apparently Anthony Burgess and Kingsley Amis both named ‘Bomber’ as one of the most important novels of the Twentieth Century. Set on just one day in the summer of 1943, it’s a fictional account of an RAF bombing raid on Germany, told from both British and German perspectives. Two things really struck me. Firstly, how young the air crews were (pilots age 21 or 22 – imagine your typical Editorial Assistant in charge of a plane carrying 22,000lb of high explosive bombs), and secondly the random na...more
A terrific and meticulously researched piece of writing, showing a WW2 RAF bombing raid on a German town. The novel has characters on both sides, so not only do we get the bomber crews' perspective but also those of the German night fighter crews, radar operators, civil defence workers and civilians on the ground.

Bomber is written in a matter-of-fact style that brings home the random nature of warfare - the lucky escapes, the pointless deaths. If you ever need convincing that in modern warfare t...more
This is an incredibly detailed look at the bombing of Germany, from both sides. For me the most poignant moment came when the Germans learned which city was about to get bombed, and a crew of women set to work peeling potatoes - knowing that the soup kitchens would be filled that night with thousands of homeless civilians. It's a fair and sympathetic look at the terror that people experienced, both on the ground and in the air. A must-read for anyone with even a cursory interest in war.
This could very well be the best book I have ever had the pleasure of reading. I discovered Len Deighton in the late 80's, while stationed in Germany and read everything I could find of his from the post library. I devoured all of his books but, 'Bomber' eluded me until a few months ago. To be honest, I am glad it took me so long to finally read this book because I don't think the younger version of "me" was ready to fully comprehend the brutal honesty of war that is depicted by Deighton in 'Bom...more
carl  theaker

Bomber was my intro to Deighton, bought it off a discount rack for
a $1. A good read and detailed tale of the various characters
on both sides of a bomber raid.

Some of the various stories followed: the Ju-88 night fighters
with their experimental nitrous-oxide superchargers
stalking the british pathfinders, the air raid warden & mayor coping
with a huge raid on his small town, the bomb expert, the
off shore AA gunner, all progress to the finale.

Terry Callister
Without any doubt my favourite book of all time. I must have read Bomber at least ten times. It paints a vivid picture of a bombing raid over Germany during WWII. From the prejudices of RAF officers, the workings of a bomber station, to the German radar installations on the Dutch coast and the small market town of Altgarten to suffers a 750 heavy bomber raid.

An exercise in futility but so well researched and put together. A fantastic book, very highly recommended.
According to different estimates, between 300,000 and 600,000 German civilians were killed during the Allied bombing of Germany in World War II. In the RAF Bomber Command, 47,268 airmen were killed in action, or 45% of the total. In the Luftwaffe, 165,014 airmen were KIA, but this includes all of World War II, not just opposing British bombers. Each one of these people was an individual, with his or her own life history, character, hobbies and peccadilloes. Strategic bombing was a battle between...more
Sep 15, 2008 Mike rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Jayson
Recommended to Mike by: Glenn
A frighteningly accurate yarn of British bombers unloading their fury over WWII Germany as Luftwaffe night fighter pilots attempt shoot them out of the skies. Experience what is was like for civilians as the deadly cargo ripped apart towns, homes and lives. Deighton scores a bull's-eye with this amazingly researched tale that you can't put down. No one emerges the victor in this one.
This was a decent novel about a RAF bombing of Germany during WWII and how it affected everyone involved. It was heartfelt with plenty of character development. There were a whole lot of characters to keep track of though. Deighton mentioned that in the forward (which I rarely read, but did this time). In hindsight I probably should have kept a cheat sheet of who is who, but it was still very enjoyable despite me sometimes becoming befuddled about the characters. The only other minor issue I had...more
Ian Mapp
The world must be full of lost classics like this one. It was one of the biggest selling books in 1970 but do you think I could get a copy from the whole of Worcestershire library system? Nope, I had to resort to ebay.

The book is fictional, told in a very detailed documentary style. Set on a fictitious day - 31/06/43 - it tells the story of a night time bombing raid by the British into the Ruhr Valley.

All sides of the raid are told through the stories of a bewildering array of characters. They a...more
Simon Mcleish
Originally published on my blog here in February 2004.

I have always found this the hardest of Deighton's novels to get into, partly because it is so unrelentingly serious, but mainly because its beginning is poor. The first chapter in particular has some really terrible, clunking dialogue, and the mechanics of introducing his large cast of characters are not well handled. Even further into the novel, the prose is ponderous and Bomber is very slow moving for a thriller.

The idea of Bomber is to de...more
It's a fantastic beast, a novel that covers 24 hours of a bombing operation from all perspectives, flitting from the drivers, the townsfolk, the head of wing command, and the relatively young crews. In his Foreword, Deighton admits to being enamored with machines, while still understanding how they have made lives hell in war time. This becomes clear as he gracefully outlines a page describing the destruction that a single explosive anti-air shell can entail on first a plane, then fractions of a...more
Apr 18, 2010 rabbitprincess rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: WW2 enthusiasts, aviation buffs, fans of historical fiction
Recommended to rabbitprincess by: Quill and Quire, the Guardian, the NYT
* * * * 1/2

I went through a spy fiction/thriller phase in middle school -- partly because I enjoyed mysteries in general, and partly because I needed long books to keep me busy during the school's Drop Everything And Read periods (our teacher would not let us leave our desks for the whole time, even if we just wanted to go to the bookshelves IN THE SAME CLASSROOM and pick a new book to start!). Fortunately my dad's bookshelves were well stocked with Tom Clancy, John le Carré, and Len Deighton. I...more
This work of historical fiction follows an English night bombing raid in World War II. It follows the raid over a period of 24 hours, and it follows people affected by the raid on both sides of the conflict: the English airmen, the German fighter crews, the flak gunners, the German civilians, the English family members, just about everyone. The story was meticulously researched and feels very vivid and authentic. The story covers the disastrous consequences to both sides with remarkable clinical...more
Hard to find a single flaw in this astounding, overwhelming, shattering work. Its all its reputation says it is. Solid craftsmanship buttressed by impeccable research. Characters which are hard to forget. Situations to make one shudder long after the book collects dust on your shelf.

Do you have a morbid fascination with ways to die during wartime? Taste for the grisly? Keen on the way that munitions truly operate? Deighton gives you everything you could ask for; and more..til your cup runneth o...more
Too many characters, all two-dimensional. I was craving for a coward, a bully, an egomaniac . . . anyone with a personality!

Like a big budget disaster movie. Lots to see, but the players and the dialog is comic book simple.
Totally enjoyed this one, it just loses one star for being a tad dated. I suspect the narrative style was taken from Arthur Hailey and his famed Airport novel which came out a few years before BOMBER was published in 1970. The narrative style from Airport was then recycled for every disaster movie made in the early and mid-70's so there were times when I was reading this book and it had the feeling like I was watching the Poseidon Adventure or Earthquake, in sensurround of course. Shame they did...more
The cover calls Len Deighton the greatest war novelist of our time and Bomber as one of his best, both of which I would have to agree with. His thorough research has led to a level of detail and realism that draw the reader into the worlds of his characters and engages one on an emotional level. One can only read this and lament the folly of war. It's ironic the way in which we look with nostalgia at machines like the Avro Lancaster and The Ju88 till one comes face to face with the terror those...more
A fictional account of life with an English bomber squadron ... and their targets in a small German town. The book is on the level of Slaughterhouse Five in portraying the lives of both sides during World War II, this account simply describes the lives -- and deaths -- of several dozen people during the 24-hour period of an attack in June, 1943. The trepidations, wishes and wrath of officialdom are part of the story on both sides.
For me the scope of this novel was too big and I didn't know quite which character I was supposed to be following. The character of Lambert is the main one but there were too many others that merely act as distractions. The descriptions of the effects of bombing on a fictional German town are quite horrific but that wasn't enough to satisfy me; I needed something more from the novel that detailed descriptions of firestorms couldn't give.
Started reading this book thinking that this would be some clancy like yarn albeit written by someone with basic english skills.

Having finished it it was so much more than I expected. Its a brilliant story that brings to life the disgusting futility of WWII and the bestiality that decent human beings were forced to participate in. Amazing read could not recommend it more highly.

Len Deighton's novel appeared forty years ago, but it still has the power to move me. The story of a bombing mission against Germany during World War II tells a series of interconnected tales, mostly of people who are doomed. Some are bomber crew; some are Germans on the ground. "Bomber" was the first of Deighton's non-spy books, as I recall, and it stands up well to time.
A staggering piece of work. A book that could be fact in its amazing technical detail but is pure fiction. It was only possible because of Deightons habitual research into making some of his fiction accurately factual, if you see what I mean!
This was made into a Radio 4 real time play and can be obtained in cassette ( possibly CD and DVD ) version of the BBC play.
I read this book many years ago and decided to read it again after I saw a copy in a book store. It is one of the best WW2 aviation books I have ever read. The author is meticulous in his research and he tells a great story. As I read it again, it almost seems like a new book. It's great and well worth a read. In my case, a second read after about 30 years.
Teri Cooper
Puts you in the terrifying front seat of the work horse of Britain's WWII airforce fleet, the Lancaster bomber, as they fly their perilous and often deadly missions over nazi Germany. These planes were sitting ducks for the faster and more nimble Luftwaffe fighter planes, and 70% of those who flew in them never returned. Enthralling.
The author has taken an interesting approach by focussing on the lives of all the people who are involved or associated with in some way, with a WW2 Lancaster bomber during a 24 hour period. From the pilots and crew through to those who are being bombed, an incredible realism of life during those strained times is well portrayed.
Gregory Olivier
Wow, a long book, with the plot involving many points of view. A great insight into that kind of warfare.
You feel like you're flying alongside those men. You also get the story from the people on the ground who are on the receiving end. A most interesting tale, a well drawn war story.A lot of detail.
I read it when I was a teenager.
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Deighton was born in Marylebone, London, in 1929. His father was a chauffeur and mechanic, and his mother was a part-time cook.After leaving school, Deighton worked as a railway clerk before performing his National Service, which he spent as a photographer for the Royal Air Force's Special Investigation Branch. After discharge from the RAF, he studied at St Martin's School of Art in London in 1949...more
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