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The Most Dangerous Enemy: A History of the Battle of Britain

4.34  ·  Rating Details  ·  288 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
Already hailed as the standard work, The Most Dangerous Enemy is an authoritative history of the British battle that galvanized the public imagination and symbolized the destiny of a nation. But in this rigorous re-investigation of the Battle of Britain, Stephen Bungay tells a story full of revelations. Whether assessing the development of radar or the relative merits of t ...more
Paperback, 512 pages
Published September 1st 2001 by Aurum Press (first published August 5th 2000)
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Dec 29, 2014 KOMET rated it it was amazing
Though many books have been written on the Battle of Britain since the end of the Second World War, Stephen Bungay's book offers some fresh insights on the Battle.

Using material from both British and German sources, Bungay shows that the Luftwaffe, despite its impressive show of strength from Poland to the defeat of France in June 1940, was not capable of waging a strategic bombing campaign against Britain which could have defeated it. An invasion of Britain could only have succeeded through a
Ian Hathaway
Feb 24, 2014 Ian Hathaway rated it did not like it
The Most Dangerous Book: A Distortion of the Battle of Britain

To begin with the positives, this book is well researched and well written. In particular I enjoyed the chapter dedicated to the development of the Spitfire and Hurricane. Unfortunately that is where the positives end, there is nothing new in this book.

After 20 pages I was almost ready to give up on this book, however I persevered only to find my disappointment grew and grew. I bought the book based on reviews and recommendations from
A solid overview of the fight for areal suppremacy prior to the Nazi invasion of England. The daily actions are reported in considerable detail, sometimes a bit too much for my taste, but intersected by informed chapters on doctrine, radar, machines and men.

Bungay sometimes puts his points too bluntly and a few statements border on Anglophile, while he shows himself to be capable of sound reasoning when he notices how the importance of Fighter Command dawns on Kesselring, or, intriguingly, how
Aug 29, 2011 Marcus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Battle of Britain is probably the most covered topic in military aviation literature and there must be literally hundreds of titles covering the topic in English language alone. Through the years I have managed to read quite a few of them and I can say that 'The Most Dangerous Enemy' is without a doubt the best of them. First of all, author manages to stay focused and balanced both in his narrative and analysis of events. Both antagonists get same amount of coverage, while critique and prize are ...more
Jul 26, 2010 Andrew rated it it was amazing
The hardcover edition is a large format (like a coffee table book) but is appropriate because of the excellent illustrations and photos from the Battle of Britain. Bungay's constructed the book as a day-by-day account of the battle, introducing us to people on both sides and how they would fight and die or fight and live.

The author's appraisal was that "the Battle of Britain was not a near-run thing. The Luftwaffe never came close to achieving any of its confused objectives." However, the Luftw
Jun 03, 2013 Jan rated it it was amazing
In the postscript the author writes: 'Perhaps you too, especially if you are not British, should not completely forget about the Battle of Britain. For this, if anything of ours, is worth your memory'

Stephen Bungay has done a marvelous job of aiding our memory with his encyclopedic account of those tense months during the summer and early autumn of 1940, where 'the few' decisively blunted German attempts so subdue Great Britain. With immaculate research and complete control of the source materia
Brian Page
Jun 04, 2014 Brian Page rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
…a tour de force. Quite simply the best account of the Battle of Britain ever written. The research, writing, and the analysis is superb. Bungay presents a nuanced critique backed by massive amounts of data that not only relates what happened but why, and the implications. He dispels many of the myths surrounding the battle. I especially enjoyed his analysis of the leadership, strategy, and tactics, of BOTH sides of the conflict. This is an extremely well-balanced account that gives essentially ...more
Mar 18, 2014 nicdavdi rated it it was amazing
The author's experience as a business consultant and businessman is brought to bear on the pivotal battle of WW2. His analysis of the metrics of the battle on both sides overturns the mythology of the battle that had grown up over the past 70 years. However, this is no dry forensic examination; Bungay writes about the battle in a vivid and compelling voice. He combines anecdote from both sides and research to tell the story of the battle. His view reverses the perceived notions of the battle so ...more
Mar 19, 2014 Brian rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
A terrific book about the summer of 1940 and the air battle that helped determine the course of WWII. Bungay builds the picture from the beginning going back to the mid-30s and slowly advancing the timeline until the confrontation occurs the between the British and German air forces.

The book is as detailed as you would like - whole chapters devoted to the various planes involved in the engagement - but is also strategic enough to get you to understand both British and German thinking as the clas
Nov 08, 2014 Taylor rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Just an incredible history of the Battle of Britain. The way the author interleaves strategy, plane technology, fighter tactics, and personal stories keeps things fascinating and never dry.

The author tries to tell the story from both sides, and is sometimes successful, but he is clearly British and he has an occasional slip of an adverb that reinforces this. The British are portrayed, almost without exception, as heroic, valiant and mostly smart fighters; the Germans are heroic glory-hounds poo
Simon Bateson
Feb 20, 2015 Simon Bateson rated it liked it
A very informative detailed history of the Battle of Britain. A bit of a slog at times but overall enjoyable.
Adil Ehsan
Dec 03, 2014 Adil Ehsan rated it it was amazing
Wow you can't do better than this fir a derailed yet concise and readable history of the Battle of Britain. While at times the book tends to over emphasize the importance of the Battle and eulogizes Churchill repeatedly there is no denying it's balanced and on the things that matter it captures and presents all sides of the story. However besides being well written what really sets the book apart is the unsentimental but detailed analysis of the numbers especially production and attrition rates. ...more
Jul 03, 2012 Tony rated it liked it
Shelves: history
Heavy of fact, light on synthesis. Is there not more to writing history then listing facts?
Jimmie Kepler
Mar 14, 2011 Jimmie Kepler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The Most Dangerous Enemy: An Illustrated History of the Battle of Britain" is spectacular. It merits a five-star rating. It is in a large-format of 11.9 x 9.8 x 1.1 inches. The quality of the book is immaculate. If you are a history buff with an interest in the Battle of Britain this is the book for you. The book is divided into three sections: Part 1: Build-up, Part 2: Battle, and Part 3: Aftermath. It takes you on a journey of understanding. You learn of the organization of the air forces. Yo ...more
Matti Karjalainen
Stephen Bungayn "The Most Dangerous Enemy: The Definitive History of the Battle of Britain" (Aurum Press, 2010) on erinomainen katsaus kesällä ja syksyllä 1940 käytyyn Taisteluun Englannista; vuoronsa saavat niin Luftwaffen kuin RAF:n käyttämät lentokoneet ja taktiikat, taustalla käyty poliittinen peli kuin itse taistelutapahtumatkin. Laajaa yleiskuvaa tarkennetaan tuomalla mukaan myös välähdyksiä yksittäisten ihmisten vaiheista taistelujen tiimellyksessä, vähän samaan tapaan kuin Anthony Beevor ...more
Alistaire King
Dec 08, 2015 Alistaire King rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: second-world-war
Excellent history

Fully debunks the myth of the amateur British somehow muddling through against the efficient and professional Germans. Dowding and Park emerge as the architects of victory through their professionalism and clear sighted management of the battle. The bravery of the pilots on both sides are recognised, the epilogue with the two RAF veterans is genuinely moving. For anyone interested in the Battle of BritIain this is an excellent introduction.
Jon Gould
Sep 17, 2011 Jon Gould rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition


I had no idea that Churchill had to convince the cabinate, the commons and the country to fight the Nazis - Britain could easily have sued for peace and his opponents wanted to. Only Churchill understood that to do that would mean the end of Western Democracy. What a great leader! And thats just the first chapter.

The real story is about the Battle Of Britain, how Dowding set up and ran air defence, and how even at the end others did not understand what he had done and hence replaced h
Mark Jacobsen
Sep 13, 2013 Mark Jacobsen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a magnificent book, comprehensive and beautifully illustrated, and easily deserves a 5-star rating. It is a gripping read, conveying all the thrill and romance and danger of the earlier, more mythic narratives of the Battle of Britain, but this is a serious work of history. The sophisticated analysis of the combatants covers everything from training and tactics to aircraft production and organizational management. The sharp contrasts between the health of the RAF and the Luftwaffe, and t ...more
Nov 23, 2013 Olethros rated it really liked it
-Exhaustivo pero ameno.-

Género. Ensayo.

Lo que nos cuenta. Extenso repaso del enfrentamiento entre Alemania y Gran Bretaña sobre los cielos de esta última durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial, con exposición clara de los importantes antecedentes políticos británicos que marcaron los derroteros del combate, de la visión militar del asunto que tenía Alemania, de los equipos con los que se luchó tanto desde el punto de vista técnico como del de planificación, y finalmente la narración de la propia luch
History at its most gripping

Detailed and meticulous, at times humorous, ,clearly written and offering a balanced and objective view of a battle everyone thinks they know but which choose draws some less obvious but very well argued conclusions. A great read
Nate Huston
Sep 17, 2012 Nate Huston rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The only thing that would have made this book better is if I had more time to read it. Great for the most dedicated military historian and great for the dabbler. Bungay gives you a great sense of the overall battle, has a ton of specifics on people, machines and strategies, and enough details to choke an elephant. Or a hippo. Something with a big mouth. There are a lot of details.

Very interesting read. According to Bungay, the Battle of Britain was not as "close" as has traditionally been rememb
David Highton
Apr 01, 2016 David Highton rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
a very detailed and deeply researched analysis and description, including the build up of the RAF and the Luftwaffe over the preceding years and the battle tactics over the key six weeks in 1940. Probably a bit to comprehensive for my needs at 512 pages
Steve Switzer
Nov 12, 2015 Steve Switzer rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ww2
Superb my favourite book on the battle of Britain even better than deightons fighter
Feb 12, 2015 Simon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: military-history
One of the best accounts I have read.
Nov 25, 2011 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: military-history
They are not kidding when they say definitive history with this book.
Superb research and writing combine to tell the story of one of the most importnt battles of all time. No detail is spared and my only slight problem is that it can get a bit technical at times.
As a history of those few months in 1940 though it has and never will be done better.
Rex Lee Applegate
Nov 25, 2013 Rex Lee Applegate rated it it was amazing
Well researched history with conclusions that are supported by cogent data and arguments. I found the discussions of factors that could have changed the outcome to be particularly interesting. A well balanced version of the Battle of Britain with no pandering for those who cling to long held myths that the Germans came close to victory.
Barbara Mader
Feb 09, 2012 Barbara Mader rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wwii
Well-organized, clear, great photos and graphics, interesting sidebars, solid information; just an excellent accompaniment to my other reading about the Battle of Britain. I kept referring back and forth, so it took me a while to get through the whole thing--but in effect I'm sure I read it all at least twice.
May 09, 2012 Bob rated it it was amazing
A great, well documented, history of the Battle of Britain. There are surprises in terms of the analysis of how bad Britain's situation really was. The section at the end which describes what Germany might have done to win was most interesting.
Robert Hart
Sep 12, 2011 Robert Hart rated it it was amazing
This is an interesting addition to the existing histories of the Battle of Britian and fighter pilot (auto-)biographies that bear on this topic. It takes a more analytical approach than others, but remains eminently readable.
Sep 16, 2012 Trav rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 627, history, airpower, saass
Cracking read, only wish I had more time to digest it. Bungay does an excellent job of mixing in the equipment, strategy and people involved in the Battle of Britain to address the myth that has grown up around the subject.
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