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Dambusters: A Landmark Oral History

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  82 ratings  ·  12 reviews
On 16 May 1943, nineteen Lancaster bomber crews gathered at a remote RAF station in Lincolnshire for a mission of extraordinary daring and high risk - a night raid on three crucial and heavily defended dams deep in the German industrial heartland. The raiders would have to fly across occupied Europe at a perilously low level and drop their bombs at a mere 60 feet above the ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published October 2nd 2008 by Virgin Books
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Pete daPixie
In just the last decade there has been no shortage of books published covering the Dambusters raid of 16-17 May 1943. Not surprising considering the technical wizardry alone. A six ton bomb, shaped like an oil drum, set to be spun up at 500rpm (anticlockwise) before dropping a precise distance from the walls of the dams, from a height of just 60 feet, above water, at night, at a speed of some 230mph from a specially modified Lancaster bomber, so the bomb would skip like a stone across the water, ...more
I am quite a fan of books on World War II but I have never read anything quite like this. I've read the 6 volumes of Churchill's The Second World War book series with much of the writing from one persons point of view. This work is completely unlike that.

Firstly, and most importantly this is an oral history with both German and Allied voices. To me this makes it one of the most interesting books on a single event I've read. We hear voices from both sides.

Next, this is an oral history and does
Susan Paxton
Arthur's oral histories are always well worth reading; in the case of 617 Squadron he's done what few others have and sought out material from the ground crews and other nonflying personnel (and the comparison of their reactions to the horrific losses of the Dams raid and those of the flying personnel are a little off-putting; the ground crews, WAAFs, and Barnes Wallis were weeping, the air crew who'd made it back were celebrating). One thing that would have made the book a bit more useful would ...more
Tin Wee
This is an example of how oral histories should be compiled. Various sources are interviewed and their excerpts are arranged chronologically to present the story of the famous raid on the Mohner and Eder Dams which powered the German Ruhr industrial area. Various phases are covered from the conceptualization, recruitment, execution, and aftermath of the raid. Interestingly, also includes interviews with German victims of the raids to show the impact of the raid. Recommended.
Thomas Fenske
Squadron 617 has been heralded since WWII for their mission against the Ruhr Valley dams. The mission included cutting edge technology, great planning, flawless timing, and bravery of the highest sort. Many participants died.
What Max Arthur has done is cobble together accounts of the mission, from the pilots and air crews, the ground crews, various support staff, planners, scientists, and even German military and civilians who were the victims of the attack.
Like some oral histories, especially
Mark Barnes
A great book that weaves together the recollections of many of those involved in the Dambusters' raid. There's no attempt to editorialise, or to smooth over differences in recollections, and the book is better for that. It probably ought not be the only book you read on the raid, but it's certainly a fascinating account.
Alan Wilson
I thought this book was great and was different from anything I had read before. To hear from so many different people who were involved in the build up and how they felt after was fascinating. It also had the added extra of hearing about the attack from the other side which is rare.
Donald L McGill

One of the best wartime books I've had the pleasure to read..You are there, being shot at, wondering if you will make it back alive...If you like war stories you will love this book, Get your copy today
Chaplain Stanleigh Chapin

A bit disconcerting with the going from one person to another and not always on the same item, but interesting and informative
Kent Archie
I would have liked some more technical details, but there are other book for this.
Hearing the story as told by the bomber crews and the people living below the dams was fascinating and terrifying. I was impressed by how the crews pushed on after seeing about half the planes not making it back.
Dan Ward
I can't believe I paid money for this book. It is utterly unreadable. It is composed in little paragraphs of oral interviews. The story of the raid is not told just little bits of memories, bouncing from person to person without any real continuity. The raid itself is an incredible story but the only incredible thing about this book is that it was published.

I suppose this is a good add on to other books if you want deeper information on the bombing mission but don't purchase this book as a first
Brian Grinter
Excellent read, written oral history from the aircrew and ground crew of 617 Squadron RAF, the "Dambusters".
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Max Arthur is an author who specialises in first-hand recollections of historical events. He has worked closely with the Imperial War Museum to bring together two books in the Forgotten Voices series, Forgotten Voices of the Great War and Forgotten Voices of the Second World War. Prior to becoming a writer, he served with the Royal Air Force and for some years was an actor.
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