Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Piece of Cake” as Want to Read:
Piece of Cake
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Piece of Cake (RAF)

4.38  ·  Rating Details ·  532 Ratings  ·  43 Reviews
Set during World War II, this book is an account of the war as lived by the men of Hornet Squadron, from the war in France until the end of the Battle of Britain. By the author of "Goshawk Squadron" and "War Story".
Hardcover, 569 pages
Published March 12th 1984 by Knopf (first published January 1st 1983)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Harv Griffin
Mar 29, 2014 Harv Griffin rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: World War Two nuts
Shelves: reviewed, own
Ask Americans what the best fighter planes of World War Two were, and they will probably name the Japanese Zero, the German 109, and the British Spitfire. The Hurricane is just some other Brit plane.

PIECE OF CAKE is one of my favorite WWII novels. It is about a year in the life of a British Hurricane fighter squadron, from September 1939 to September 1940. There is also a BBC Masterpiece Theater multi-disc DVD set, which is very faithful to the book. But I have to ding the video for changing th
Nathan Trachta
Dec 08, 2009 Nathan Trachta rated it really liked it
I remember a few moons ago (about 20 years ago really) seeing something about the mini-series Piece of Cake and not being able to watch it (sorry, to poor to afford it then) and being a little interested in aviation warfare I decided I'd have to read it at some point. After spending sometime looking about and finally deciding to deal in the second hand market I picked up a copy of Piece of Cake.

Piece of Cake describes a British squadron (Hornet Squadron, flying Hurricanes for those that are int
Steven Rundlett
Jun 05, 2013 Steven Rundlett rated it it was amazing
Following a squadron of RAF Hurricane pilots from Sept. 39 through Sept. 40 into the Battle of Britain. Derek Robinson scores big with sweeping action, black humor, realistic characters, and excellent history as to how Britain managed to survive the Luftwaffe's assault. I seem to read this book every few years, there's something about how well developed the characters are that keeps me wanting to revisit them. If you like historical fiction, warts and all, Derek Robinson is a must read.
Graham Watson
Jan 23, 2014 Graham Watson rated it it was amazing
This is probably my most re-read book from one of favourite authors.

Having spent 25 years in the RAF I find the humorous banter very realistic, and the characters a fair representation of the cross-section of individuals you would find on a typical RAF Squadron.

But the absolute best thing about Derek's RFC and RAF books, is the historical accuracy which shows that a lot of research goes into each one of his works.

Highly recommended.
Anndra Dunn
Jul 16, 2011 Anndra Dunn rated it it was amazing
One of my favourite books ever, and certainly one of my favourite novels about war. It directly influenced and inspired some of my own writing. Robinson's books can get a formulaic, but this book transcends all of that. It follows an RAF fighter squadron from September 1939 to September 1940, so while it all technically takes place during wartime a large proportion of that is the 'Phoney War' or 'Bore War' that took place until the German invasion of France in May 1940. Robinson's focus througho ...more
May 23, 2013 Alistair rated it it was amazing
This is even more brutal if anything than his WW1 classic " Goshawk Squadron " . Much longer but with the same black humour and laconic tone " Piece of Cake " is set in WW2 firstly with Hornet Squadron in France and then during the Battle of Britain .
I am sure that the writer has picked up some flak for raising the subject of the exaggerated claims made by RAF about their success rate of kills during the defence of the skies of Great Britain but that doea not take away from his obvious admiratio
May 18, 2011 Sarah rated it liked it
Piece of Cake, difficult enough to get through, that once the story actually started, I was about 3/5 of the way through and finished because I had already put in nearly 300 pages of work! The book is a unique and small microcosm of the beginnings of World War II, following small squadron of Hornets as they begin their war time activities in France, when British ideals of the war were that it would be over before the weekend. It is interesting that they were posted in a position in France far fr ...more
Aug 26, 2008 Annie rated it it was amazing
This is easily one of my top 5 books as of late. It took me a while to get through, but every page was worth it. This tale that follows a squadron of RAF fighter pilots through the beginnings of WWII is sharp, clever, insightful, and quite touching. Robinson himself was a pilot and so the dialogue and details continually ring true. More than a story of war, it is a story of human beings, young men from all walks of life who find themselves in dire circumstances and manage to survive, or not, by ...more
Feb 14, 2013 Michael rated it it was ok
With some 700 pages I thought I would have a solid read about a group of RAF pilots at the beginning of World War 2. The passages which described flying were very good - realistic and believable. However anything that was not about flying was a real disappointment to me. Each person was an island. There was no friendship, collegiality, support. The described behaviours were not realistic. A group of pilots in a tense situation share with, and support each other (in the main) but not this lot. Ev ...more
May 12, 2011 Scott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reviews say it all. One the best books written on the Battle of Britain and the RAF. It is fiction based on fact.

“Indeed, it would be fair to rank Piece of Cake among the best war novels ever written.” (Review…see page)

Robinson's plot line follows the notional Hornet Squadron.

I have it in my library.

Iain Cosgrove
Mar 19, 2013 Iain Cosgrove rated it it was amazing
This novel is about as alose to perfection as it is possible to get. I have read it dozens on times and it really puts you through the emotional wringer. When you have stood on the remainders of the bleak forward airfields of Kent like I have, you get a real sense of place from this novel and a real sense of what these young men were going through. Utterly compelling and if you read no other novel this year, make it this one!
Jamie Mankelow
May 11, 2011 Jamie Mankelow rated it it was amazing
My absolute favourite book of all time . Follows the story of a Hurricane squadron during the battle of france and the battle of britain.Great humour and cameraderie of the pilots during a dangerous time in their lives . Brilliant descriptions of air combat , the victories ,the heartbreaking casualties and the effect they have on the squadron and in some cases their wives and girlfriends .I re read this book on an almost annual basis.Superb.
Rosanna Leo
Aug 15, 2013 Rosanna Leo rated it it was amazing
Completely of a different genre than I normally read, this novel affected me for a long time after reading it. It tells the story of an RAF squadron during WWII and the characters truly spoke to me. It was moving, realistic and gritty, often funny too.
Jan 27, 2017 Mike rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Wow, what a book. Fictional but very historically accurate tale of British RAF pilots during the first two years of WWII. The characters are side-splittingly hilarious, and the dialogue and air battles scenes are tremendous. Robinson has really done his research. Though some have criticized Robinson's portrayal of the RAF, most of his analysis seems pretty spot on based on other non-fiction I've read about the RAF during the war. Rather than criticize the RAF, I feel Robinson's work is a tribute ...more
Bill Beseler
Feb 07, 2017 Bill Beseler rated it it was amazing
My favorite book of all time!
Apr 12, 2015 Roy rated it really liked it
A gruelling but ultimately satisfying account of the lives - and deaths - of an RAF Fighter Command squadron in the first year of the Second World War. This is a bit of a slow burn, and rightly so, as the first half covers the "phoney war" up to the German attack on France and the Low Countries in May 1940. The boredom and frustration of this period does not wear well on the types of men who would make good fighter pilots and Mr Robinson's characters come across quite unsympathetically to the re ...more
Dec 16, 2016 Noctus rated it it was ok
Very disappointing. I hated the British pilots who were bullies. I did not find any character who I could find any affection for so I stopped reading.
David Rose
Apr 21, 2014 David Rose rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: want-to-re-read
One of the finest war novels around, and probably the best of all novels on air combat in World War II.

Derek Robinson is also well known for his Goshawk Squadron, a similarly bitter combat novel set in WWI, although that one is less polished and developed than this book.
Piece of Cake describes how a group of young men change in the course of about eighteen months. At the beginning they are assigned to a Hurricane Squadron in France in 1939, and are almost on holiday. Some of the behaviour seems
Tom Brennan
Aug 04, 2014 Tom Brennan rated it it was amazing
Riveting for any amateur WWII historian.

A factoid that remains with me after having read the book long ago is that the Polish aviators who flew with the RAF composed 6% of the RAF, but accounted for 12% of the kills during the Battle of Britain.

Commonwealth RAF pilots did not want to fly with the Poles because every time they got within striking distance of the Luftwaffe, the Poles threw tactics to the wind, so to speak, and went for the German jugular.

The Luftwaffe pilots reportedly avoided c
Apr 01, 2015 Justin rated it it was amazing
Book of the Year (2015) (Runner Up) The theme this year was aerial combat, and the runner up is Derek Robinson's 'Piece of Cake' trilogy, which covers basically the first two years of RAF fighter and bomber operations of World War 2, and should be read in conjunction with the awesome BBC adaptation. BLUF: 'Brave Sir Robin was not afraid to be killed in nasty ways'. As a bonus, the last chapter contains the author's own musings on the logistical impossibility of Operation Sea Lion and why the Bat ...more
Nov 17, 2015 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I rooted this out from my bookshelves when the Battle of Britain anniversary came around. I've read it at least once before (probably more, judging by the state of the spine). It's the story of the (fictional) Hornet squadron, flying Hurricanes in the early days of the war, in France and in England.

Larger-than-life characters, humour (both dark and frivolous), historical accuracy, and lots of fun. A thoroughly enjoyable read.
David Turner
Apr 03, 2014 David Turner rated it really liked it
I found it difficult to get going with this book at first and found many of the characters initially unpleasant and uninteresting. However, after a while I was flying through it (pardon the pun) and really enjoyed it. The characters developed well and the randomness of death kept me on the edge of my seat - I had no idea who was going to make it through. Great book.
Toby McMillen
Jun 15, 2008 Toby McMillen rated it liked it
The book was a fast finisher, but a slow starter. Worth the effort in the end, but the dialogue--and there is quite a bit of it--is generally rife with long sophomoric exchanges between the fighter pilots. Funny sometimes, but it gets old. Great insight into the story of the British fighter pilot and the run-up to the Battle of Britain, circa 1939-40.
Jan 29, 2009 Dale rated it liked it
Another book with good reviews. The writing style was just not for me. It seemed there was much too much irrelevant dialogue and the story seemed to drag. So, I read about half of it and took it back to the library.
Jan 07, 2011 John rated it really liked it
A fighter pilot friend of mine recommended this novel as one that educated and inspired him as a young military pilot. A well-done, graphic, touching, compelling story of the RAF during the Battle of Britain and early war years.
Sharon Moriarty
A Very captivating tale of WWII dogfights. The character portraiture is excellent and the action flows fast. Teaches the non nonsense life of air battle.
Stacy McMahon
I've seen the London Evening Television miniseries based on this book and look forward to reading it (since we know the book is always better than the movie!)
Kate S
May 10, 2013 Kate S rated it liked it
It took me a while to get into this book, but once I got to about the halfway point, I was more engrossed.
-ed- Erwin
Jan 02, 2008 -ed- Erwin rated it it was amazing
Very funny and heart-breakingly accurate Novel of the Battle of Britain. This guy does British dialogue like Elmore Leonard does American.
Steve Markham
Dec 18, 2012 Steve Markham rated it really liked it
Amusing in parts, very good narative and decent characters. A bit long winded in places but worth the read all the same.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Good Shepherd
  • Winged Victory
  • The Last Escaper
  • Bomber
  • Winged Escort
  • Storm Force to Narvik: The Nicholas Everard World War II Saga Book 1: Bk. 1
  • Mr. Midshipman Easy
  • Apache. Ed Macy
  • To the Ends of the Earth
  • MY WAR
  • Dress Gray
  • Over to You: Ten Stories of Flyers and Flying
  • Death at Sandringham House (Her Majesty Investigates #2)
  • A Sailor of Austria: In Which, Without Really Intending to, Otto Prohaska Becomes Official War Hero No. 27 of the Habsburg Empire
  • Mythology of the British Isles
  • Fighter Boys
  • The Mighty Eighth: The Air War in Europe as Told by the Men Who Fought It
  • The Betrayers (Matt Helm, #10)
Derek Robinson is a British author best known for his military aviation novels full of black humour. He has also written several books on some of the more sordid events in the history of Bristol, his home town, as well as guides to rugby. He was nominated for the Booker Prize in 1971 for his first novel, 'Goshawk Squadron.'

After attending Cotham Grammar School, Robinson served in the Royal Air For
More about Derek Robinson...

Other Books in the Series

RAF (3 books)
  • A Good Clean Fight
  • Damned Good Show (Cassell Military Trade Books)

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »