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Bomber Command
Max Hastings
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Bomber Command

4.07  ·  Rating Details ·  540 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
Bomber Command’s air offensive against the cities of Nazi Germany was one of the most epic campaigns of World War II. More than 56,000 British and Commonwealth aircrew and 600,000 Germans died in the course of the RAF’s attempt to win the war by bombing. The struggle in the air began meekly in 1939 with only a few Whitleys, Hampdens, and Wellingtons flying blindly through ...more
Published (first published January 1st 1979)
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Mar 24, 2013 Mike rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Let’s acknowledge the truth, the Royal Air Force was unfairly scorned at the end of WWII for their efforts. In fact, you could say they were (view spoiler) Poorly served by their leaders, the RAF was never appropriately recognized for their lonely, bloody night fight against the Third Reich, for years the only way the western allies could take the war to Germany. Bomber Command gets 5 explosive-filled “Tall Boy”Stars for this clear-eyed accounting of the RAF over ...more
Whether the intense bombing of Germany was crucial in advancing the allied cause and preventing wholesale slaughter as in World War I remains a controversial topic, still unresolved. The fact remains that many hundreds of thousands of Germans were killed in firestorm raids, whose sole intent, admitted by the British, was to demoralize the enemy. But at what cost. The British lost more officers to aircraft casualties than they had in all of WW I and the pitiful survival rate of a bomber crew was ...more
One of the best books yet written about Bomber Command, Hastings clearly and critically differentiates between the political manouvrings and ambitions of the upper levels of the command structure and the experiences of the men who flew over occupied Europe every night to fulfill the orders of men who had only ever flown a desk. Hastings is clearly sympathetic to the ordinary airmen, expressing his disgust that there has never been a Bomber Command campaign medal (so richly deserved by these brav ...more
Dec 28, 2013 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ww2-books
Max Hastings' Bomber Command is a rare achievement. This book explores a broad, complex subject with depth and balance, all within a relatively brief number of pages. On top of that, it's very readable and entertaining.

Hastings explores the history of the RAF's Bomber Command in World War II, beginning with it's origins, tracing it's evolution throughout the conflict, and concluding with it's legacy. The narrative alternates between focusing on command and political discussions, and historical
Michael Flanagan
Feb 12, 2013 Michael Flanagan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ww-2
Max Hasting delivers yet another well researched and insightful book. In this offering he looks at Britains Bomber Command and follows it through it's conception to the end of the war. The writing is just the right mix, giving a great overview of Bomber Command. As well as allowing the reader to get a feel for what it was like for those who flew the missions and those who were on the receiving end of it. Hasting does not shy away from the difficult questions raised by the tactics used by Bomber ...more
David Makinson
Mar 05, 2013 David Makinson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Surely the definitive history of Bomber Command. Though written and first published many years ago (1970s), it an incredibly detailed piece of work worthy of a place on any History shelf.
Aug 21, 2015 Bill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A gifted writer writes an evocative account of a misguided campaign. Hastings makes a convincing arugment that the British terror bombing of German cities for much of World War was more than criminal, it was bad strategy and may have prolonged the war. Bertrand "Bomber" Harris was the British general who pushed the area bombing concept even when ordered to do otherwise. This book is his indictment. Highly recommended - providing both a solid understanding of what happened and why, and a good dep ...more
Oct 18, 2013 Peter rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: military, history
This is Max Hastings first WWII book, published in 1979. Now a classic, it was controversial at the outset because it disputed the claims of Bomber Command and of the U. S. Army Air Force about the efficacy and costs of the bombing of Germany and Japan.

Since then, Hastings has placed his stamp on other theaters of that war. Only a few more recent examples: An overview of the war with emphasis on the Eastern Front (“Inferno: the World at War, 1939-45”, see review), Operation Overlord and the mar
Charles H Berlemann Jr
One of Max Hastings first of many books on the history of the 2nd World War. This is an interesting view, when it was written of only 30 years since the war ended, of the British Strategic Bomber Offensive. The overall theme that Hastings appears to want to present is two fold, on one hand he wants to show that the men who flew the bombers from 1939 to 1945 were not as they had been castigated by later revisionist historians as bloody murders; rather men (and some women who were assigned to admi ...more
Oct 23, 2016 Sebastian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i loved the book
Worth reading even for the prologue alone, when a squadron of Vickers Wellingtons gets torn apart by German fighters over the Heligoland Bight in 1939. But read on and you get a compelling account of the plight of British pilots and the politics that created the area bombing campaign that eventually led to the destruction of Dresden in 1945 (and many other cities along the way).

The growth in the capabilities and ability to deal widespread devastation from the early days of the war to the 800+ b
Oct 17, 2008 Rod rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, military
Bomber Command is a detailed appreciation of the strategic bombing offensive against Germany. As is well known, horrific losses during daylight raids forced the RAF to switch exclusively to night attacks, with the resultant lack of precision. Bombing errors were often measure in miles. Since this ruled out attacking point targets, bombing raids were instead focused on area bombing of cities. Hastings examines the role this campaign played in the overall war effort.

Hastings concludes that the ove
Mike Edwards
Jan 16, 2014 Mike Edwards rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A classic book on RAF bomber command that set the stage for all those that have followed subsequently. It offered a fresh perspective on the failure of Bomber Harris to force the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany and the failure of senior leadership at the highest levels. In some aspects the work is perhaps a little dated in comparison to some of the newer works, simply because it lacks the first hand accounts that feature in Kevin Wilson's work in particular; there are several unereferenc ...more
Sandy Ferguson
Dec 19, 2009 Sandy Ferguson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a wonderful study of the Royal Air Force's strategic bombing campaign of the Second World War. Hastings honours the heroism of the aircrew, is honest about their struggles, and also shows the larger picture of the campaign, the failures of the politicians and the Air Staff to be honest about their expectations of this campaign. Hastings also explores the technical questions that would lead to the loss of so many aircrew flying aircraft completely inadequate for their tasks. Our own sensi ...more
Robert Hepple
Jan 13, 2016 Robert Hepple rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bomber Command is a 1979 account of RAF bombing operations over Europe in World War II. It tells this through details of the discussions and decisions made at the top of the command chain, interspersed with accounts of the realities of the campaign through the eyes of several bomber squadrons. In this way, it paints a vivid picture without dodging any of the controversy surrounding the effectiveness or morality of these operations. It avoids dwelling on technical details, and never attempts to b ...more
Mar 13, 2015 Grant rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This classic work remains the single best book devoted exclusively to British bomber operations in World War II. Hastings takes a largely chronological approach, identifying a single squadron to typify each major phase of Bomber Command's operations, with topical chapters covering the prewar development of doctrine, the development of area bombing, the division of labor with the Americans, German defenses, and the experiences of the bombed. He does not shy away from the serious moral questions r ...more
Casey Mahon
Jun 16, 2016 Casey Mahon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book. This has been on my Must Read list for awhile, glad I was finally able to get to it. A balanced history, it presents the extraordinary achievements of the RAF's Strategic Bombing Campaign alongside the critical commentary of its usefulness. Chapter 13 is especially poignant, it examines the minute details of a particular raid in September of 1944, from both sides. Questions on the level of brutality necessary in war are openly discussed, as are the juxtaposition between heroism in co ...more
Jonathan Lipman
Complete and sometimes gripping - but this account suffers by comparison to Bungay's on the fighter squadrons by being desultory within and by chapter. Still, the conclusion is clear and cogent: Bomber Command did go too far. Irrespective of whether or not you consider the Germans deserved it - continued indiscriminate area bombing of German cities did not contribute much to winning, or hastening the end of, the War.
John Terreri
Aug 12, 2016 John Terreri rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are many questions about the substance of the RAF's area bombing of Germany in WWII. CC Harris felt the war could be won with area bombing alone and was bold enough to set an end date. Regardless of history's obvious conclusions, it's a shame the air crewmen were never recognized for their contributions to the war. They fought long, against great odds and many lost their lives while following orders of commanding officers.
Nov 12, 2015 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wwii, aviation
This book covers the history of Bomber Command and the strategic decisions that were made throughout the war regarding the bombing of targets in Germany. Interspersed with this history, Hastings includes first-hand accounts of several bomber crews who participated in WWII bombing raids. The conclusion of the book has an excellent critique of Arthur "Bomber" Harris and his actions during the war.
Bas v/d Bogaard
May 19, 2015 Bas v/d Bogaard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very well written and researched book about the tragic British bombing campaign against Germany during World War 2. Mr. Hastings tries very hard to be fair to all parties involved, the air crews, their commanders and the German people at the receiving end. For this he deserves praise.

The book leads to the inescapable conclusion that the British bomber offensive cost a great deal in human terms but achieved very little strategically.
Anthony Ryan
Nov 06, 2014 Anthony Ryan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hastings' ability to mix narrative with pin-sharp analysis is given free reign in perhaps his most important book. Unflinching in its depiction of the horrors of aerial bombardment conducted on an industrial scale, and in its judgements of the strategic and political effects, this is essential reading for those attempting to understand what drove a nation to inflict mass-destruction on another.
Sep 10, 2013 Francisco rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-ii
Good account of Bomber Command and the campaign it conducted over Germany. Some chapters provide a very detailed look at one formation or another, to the point where it seems excessive. At other times, there are points which are restated several times, well beyond a mere reminder to recall a previous fact.
Hastings is a master stylist who profiles the political and military aspects of RAF Bomber Command, the military organization led by RAF "Butcher" Harris, which protected British skies from Luftwaffe attacks in the beginning of the war and then controversially bombed German civilian targets during its latter stages.

Hastings' new foreword for this edition is illuminating and haunting.
Robert Gagnon
Nov 09, 2013 Robert Gagnon is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Necessary reading. Military bureaucracies are ineffective and can be dictatorial. They can also lead to death and crippling of many men and women. That was true in WW I and II and also in armed conflicts since then. Politicians are not good war leaders. They are political or opportunists, whether Winston Churchill or GWBush.
Good critical look at Bomber Commands exploits and failures during WWII. Would have preferred much more insight and direct quotes from the actual men who participated. While there, the chapter titles are a bit misleading, a Squadron is named, and some personal memoirs are shared but the rest of the chapter deals with things about the overall book.
Saradhi Rajan
Oct 14, 2013 Saradhi Rajan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A real eye opener which looks at the effectiveness of the bombing campaign, the often disguised inability of the American Air Force to be ineffective and the circumstances leading to the willingness of the prime minister of the day to forget bomber command after 1944
Reed Galen
Mar 17, 2015 Reed Galen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent, in-depth analysis of the Allied bomber offensive against Germany in Europe during World War 2. Equal parts staggering for the bravery of the crews and the horrific results, Hastings is the master of his genre.
It's excellent. If you want a book with a good argument about the RAF bombing campaign against Germany, start here. Period.
Sep 27, 2013 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting book on the bombing campaign against Germany by the British bombers during World War II.
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Sir Max Hugh Macdonald Hastings, FRSL, FRHistS is a British journalist, editor, historian and author. His parents were Macdonald Hastings, a journalist and war correspondent, and Anne Scott-James, sometime editor of Harper's Bazaar.

Hastings was educated at Charterhouse School and University College, Oxford, which he left after a year.After leaving Oxford University, Max Hastings became a foreign c
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