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With Wings Like Eagles: A History of the Battle of Britain
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With Wings Like Eagles: A History of the Battle of Britain

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  551 ratings  ·  87 reviews
Michael Korda's brilliant work of history takes the reader back to the summer of 1940, when fewer than three thousand young fighter pilots of the Royal Air Force—often no more than nine hundred on any given day—stood between Hitler and the victory that seemed almost within his grasp.

Korda re-creates the intensity of combat in "the long, delirious, burning blue" of the sky
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published January 6th 2009 by Harper
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The late 1930s and early 1940s were very harsh times. Just before this book I tackled one about the Dustbowl and the Great Depression. This book deals with how England nearly ceased to exist under a brutal siege by Hitler and the German War Machine. Before invading, the fuhrer insisted on destroying the British Air Command. The author details how the 18-year-old pilots stood fast on the foundation of years of planning, building and training before the Battle of Britain and at the time of intense ...more
Quick read that I thoroughly enjoyed. The book seems to mirror the career of Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding while discussing the Battle of Britain. I learned a great deal about the British advantages and heart of how and why they won the battle and how they deflected the German bombardment. Why technological advances for battle were important for victory. You get a feel from the author of what it was like to live through the experience of being bombed day on end and not knowing when it was g ...more
In this history of the Battle of Britain, Michael Korda deftly plucks both the harp strings of emotion as he folds images of his grandfather’s (Alexander Korda’s) film version of H. G. Well’s Things to Come with the pedal work of solid facts (demythologizing kill/damage estimates) and careful research. Having read Churchill’s Their Finest House (Volume II of his Second World War series), I thought I knew quite a bit about the events. With Wings Like Eagles: A History of the Battle of Britain mad ...more
With Wings Like Eagles - A History of the Battle of Britain
Michael Korda
Read it in paperback, a short read at 352 pages.

I really enjoy reading about the golden age of aerial combat, more specifically what is known as the Dog Fight. As someone who owns a dog that likes to fight, this is the perfect terminology. The fundamentals are simple, the biggest-baddest dog in the pack picks a target and then it becomes a swirling aerial melee of carnage as each dog attempts to use speed, altitude, and posi
Jill Hutchinson
I was enthralled by this history of the beginning months of the Battle of Britain. Korda outlines, in detail, the air battle strategies of both England and Germany but that detail does not overwhelm the overall story.

It is hard for our generation to imagine the destruction that rained from the skies on the military and civilian population, especially when the bombing of London began. The bravery of the RAF fighter pilots is almost beyond imagination as they took to the sky again and again to me
While the subject matter was interesting to me, the writing was pedestrian, with a few too many footnotes pointing out the author's personal connections to individuals peripherally related to the events described.

Not enough meat on these bones.
Mike Rabasco
A quick read I enjoyed this book.
Jim B
As 2015 is the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, I decided to read a few of the newer books on the topic. The first on the nightstand was Michael Korda's entry from 2009. This is a breezy 322 page book which focuses more on the political background and tactics of the battle than individual aircrews. Korda is clearly a huge fan of Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding and much of the narrative is discusses his decisions, leadership, and conflicts with other RAF members. It is interesting to ...more
This book describes in detail the strategical and tactical Air warfare at the beginning of the Western attack by Germany on France, the Low Countries and England. It analyzes the pre Winston Churchill governments that we all know as the appeasers, but that really laid the groundwork to provide England with the tool it would need to defeat Germany. Most of the book is centralized around Air Marshall Dowding who through his vision and restrain allowed the German Luftwaffe to exhaust itself trying ...more
Last year I had read and enjoyed Korda’s Eisenhower biography and, when I discovered he had written a history of the Battle of Britain, I snapped it up, too. He has filled in the details on a well-known but little studied—outside the UK—critical period in world history, describing personalities, processes, and personal anecdotes jotted down by average British citizens. “People grew accustomed,” he writes, “to having the war drop in on their lives suddenly and unexpectedly—literally out of the bl ...more
Just what I was looking for: Well-written. Not too long. A focus on the big picture rather than specific dogfights.

History is interpretation and it pays to read with a critical eye. So:

The subtitle of this book is "The Untold Story of the Battle of Britain." How does this book have anything new to say after 70 years and countless other books on the subject? I don't know, this is my first book on the topic, and the book does not explicitly explain the subtitle.

Another minor quibble - the book rep
Very interesting read about the Battle of Britain. Seems like many WWII histories (that I have read) are greatly focused on the the last 2 years of the war (1944-45), and include events that occurred earlier as a lead up to show or explain the events that occurred during and after the invasion of Normandy. This was a good read about a pivotal moment in history: if the Luftwaffe had succeeded in dominating the skies over Britain, then a German invasion force would have moved on Britain and potent ...more
A first-rate account of the Battle of Britain, which challenges the conventional wisdom that the Baldwin and Chamberlain governments did nothing to prepare for war. Instead, Korda argues that they were trying to play catchup with German spending across the board -- and at a time of rapid technical change.

Korda's excellent at pointing out the limitations of weaponry, using the fighter aircraft that he once flew, and points to how accidents of war -- such as the first unintended bombing of London
Reprises of the second world war are heavily slanted to the heroics of D-day, often with little mention of the war prior to entry of the US. Korda follows the 1940 air battle that the Germans intended should ready the UK for invasion, both psychologically and defensive;ly; German confidence was such that they had already brought boats to ports along the southern shore of the Channel in preparation for the crossing. What the Germans had not realized was that the "appeasers" Chamberlain and Baldwi ...more
Much more than a day-by-day, hour-by-hour account of the actual aerial tactics and fighting which occurred over the skies of England during the summer months of 1940, this book takes a much broader and larger view of the political, military, social and economic background of the events leading up to Hitler's planned Operation Sea Lion, the invasion of England by German ground forces. Key to any such invasion was the importance of German dominance of the air over England prior to the invasion. Ge ...more
Bob Schmitz
Though it at times describes the battle day by day the author has done it in a way that is never boring. This book is a page turner.

I have previously read about Hugh Dowding, the brilliant, prescient British Air Marshall who designed the country's air defense during the Battle of Britain, the German bombing campaign over the Summer of 1940 that was to eliminate British air power in preparation for an invasion. This book goes into exquisite detail about the preparations on the German and British
Daniel (Attack of the Books!) Burton
Ranked among the greatest battles in British history, along with Waterloo, defeating the Spanish Armada, and Trafalgar, the Battle of Britain stands as a turning point during World War II when the Nazi juggernaut finally faced a foe that would not fall. Though few recognized it immediately, it was the turning of the tide in the war.

Fought entirely in the air, the Battle of Britain was the battle for mastery of the skies over England between the pilots of the German Luftwaffe and the Royal Air Fo
Bobby Jenkins
This was a really good book. If you are interested in the Battle of Britain and want to take a more in-depth look at it than this book is definitely for you. Korda takes you on a journey from both sides of the battle. He does a fine job at explaining why things happen and why leaders choose to do what they did. This book starts of in 1939 and goes all the way until the end of the Battle of Britain. It was very gripping and entertaining.

Even though this was a great book, there was still some thi
Kelly Johnston
If you enjoy history, and the history of warfare, then you will appreciate Michael Korda's book on the Battle of Britain. It is well-written and holds your attention. I have not done a lot of reading about the history of WWII so I don't know what is usually found in this area of history writing. But I was impressed by the research that went into the comparison of war materials, and the advantages and disadvantages of the array of armaments possessed by Germany and Britain, and to an extent the U ...more
Nathan Trachta
The Battle of Britain has always had a special place for me; who couldn't love the desperate plight of the British people being defended by a small air force against an opponent who's crushed everything it's faced before. It's almost as if it was made for a great book or movie.
I picked up Mr. Korda's With Wings Like Eagles hoping for some good analysis on the Battle of Britain, hoping for maybe something new on what happened or information not previously known. Instead I got a book where the aut
Kenyon Harbison
I am not the world's greatest expert on the Battle of Britain, by which I mean that until reading this book, I basically knew the historical even it referred to, but had never read any book or even article devoted exclusively to it. So take my review with a grain of salt, because I don't have the context that others may have. But I really liked this book.

The thing that was interesting to me about this book was that it was not just a play-by-play of the events of this great air battle. A signific
G Hodges
I wish I had read this before I went to Duxford, Hendon and IWM Lambeth. My father was a tool and die designer for aircraft instrumentation during WWII and my brother was an engineer who worked on the Lunar Excursion Module, so as a girl, I thought it was normal to discuss things like radar, balancing the weight of a plane with the power of the engine, etc.

This book reminded me that even in the midst of a crisis, ego and politics could eat up creativity, foresight and strategic thinking. I was
Jerry Smith
Classic case of serendipity for me - the book I was looking for on the Battle of Britain was checked out of the library so I picked this one instead and I was certainly not disappointed - it's an excellent, well written history of the pivotal battle of WW2.

The book begins with some background of the build up but doesn't fall into the trap of trying to cover the whole of the war up until that point in great detail, but it does set the whole battle in context.

What I particularly liked about this b
Back story to the Battle of Britain

Rather than being a tale of aerial combat, With Wings Like Eagles focuses on the defensive strategy, bureaucratic wrangling, and technical developments that underpinned the Battle of Britain. In particular, it is the story of the battle's unlikely hero, Air Chief Marshal Hugh Dowding, a man who had the foresight to push through critical defensive components, most particularly the development of eight-gun Spitfire and Hurricane fighters, the implementation of ra
Drew Danko
I'm not a history buff so this was not my usual sort of read. So I was somewhat surprised finding myself intrigued with the period of war history covered by Korda's book. The Battle of Britain is about the airwar fought against Goring and Hitler during 1940 and one of the heros of that fight-Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding. It was his foresight and strength of character that provided the strategy and fighter aircraft which enabled Britain to hold off a German invasion. The book provides reade ...more
Bob Arnold
Outstanding story of the Battle of Britain. It never fails to amaze me at how decisions made long before and during a conflict affect the outcome. The political decisions as early as 1934 and decisions made during the battle all affected victory or loss for both sides. It’s the historian that long after the battles are over that can look at the time line of decision making and see how they were right or wrong. It seems to me that the English made their best decisions in preparation for battle an ...more
-Fighter Command Dowding correctly viewed the air battle as a war of attrition, and held dearly to this believe. Did not deploy Spitfires to intercept German bombers over the English channel because if they got shot down over the water, chances to save the pilot were slim. A pilot had much more value to Fighter Command than the airplane, there was a shortage of capable pilots. The slim chances of surviving more than 5 missions.
Night Bombing proved to be a problem, Dowding could never figure out
With Wings Like Eagles has given me a much better idea of why so much was owed by so many to so few.

Korda describes in a tight narrative sequence the events and personalities associated with the Battle of Britain. Special credit is given to Hugh Dowding who saw the potential of radar, chose the right tactics for the air war, and was the central figure in keeping the Luftwaffe from dominating the channel during the critical summer of 1940.

Although Dowding is the central character,light is shed o
Urey Patrick
This is a superb, spell-binding account of the Battle of Britain written mostly from the command and control perspective on both sides of the Channel. Korda explains the development, strengths and weaknesses of the aircraft, command and control systems, intelligence functions, strategic and tactical planning and organization, and of the personalities of critical figures. There is no day-by-day, sortie-by-sortie account of the Battle - Korda uses selected battle accounts and results to illustrate ...more
Keith Lovell
An impressive overview of the Battle of Britain from a logistic and command viewpoint. Amazing the pettiness and turf don of British commanders during war.
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