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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

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  1,075 Ratings  ·  122 Reviews
World War II. Korda re-creates the intensity of combat in "the long, delirious, burning blue" of the sky above southern England, and at the same time---perhaps for the first time---traces the entire complex web of political, diplomatic, scientific, industrial, and human decisions during the 1930's that led inexorably to the world's first, greatest, and most decisive air ba ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published January 6th 2009 by Harper
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Michael
This was a wonderful short account of the air war between Germany and Great Britain in the period of July through September of 1940, one that Churchill called “their finest hour”. He had only been in the office as Prime Minister since the fateful month of May, when the Nazis had swept through France and most of the British Expeditionary Force had made a miraculous and ignominious evacuation by sea from Dunkirk in Belgium. With Hitler’s forces obscenely enjoying the fruits of victory in Paris and ...more
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
...more
Jon
Oct 09, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Betsy
Sep 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book presents a look at how the British won the Battle of Britain under the direction of men like Dowding and Park. It's an interesting book, highlighting the intrigues in Britain and Germany, which led to decisions which made the difference. Churchill comes across as less than knowledgeable about how the air war was to be handled successfully, especially concerning the decision about sending aircraft to France before Dunkirk. Goering takes his lumps too for his arrogance and lack of unders ...more
John
Apr 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
Before Roosevelt, Marshall and Eisenhower there was Churchill and Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding. Dowding was the architect of victory in what has come to be known as the "Battle of Britain" and this book is a valuable account of that battle. Britain braced virtually alone for two years and heroically withstood the Nazi onslaught. As a free nation we must ever be thankful. Churchill paid tribute to the men and women heroes of the battle who turned the tide of eventual world war. Before the H ...more
Johnny
Aug 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
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
Ryan
Apr 12, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Jarrod
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
Mary
Nov 05, 2016 rated it liked it
More like 3.5 stars. So much of this book was fascinating--I was particularly interested in the account of the development of the British radar network and the author's suggestion that Neville Chamberlain was not appeasing the Nazis but rather wisely buying time until this crucial defensive element could be completed and installed--and I certainly got a sense of what it would have been like to be in the air, on the ground and in the command centers during Britain's finest hour. I did feel, howev ...more
Gavin
Aug 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Great book for anybody with even a passing interest in World War II history. Everybody has heard of the Battle of Britain, but, for me at least, this book really filled in a lot of details I was not aware of.
Scott
May 24, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Jan 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
A quick read I enjoyed this book.
Richard Buro
The short version first . . .

Due to my training as a historian (my first Texas Teaching Field). I read quite a bit of good historical works during my college years, and after I graduated, I still read history. Now I am able to read historical works with the discerning eye that has developed for the past 40 odd years or so that since my undergraduate matriculation from Baylor University. I have several things I look for when I consider a book to be “exceptional history.” My benchmarks are: notes
...more
Chris Shockey
Jul 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In depth and concise

A very interesting history of the Battle of Britain with all of the important background information leading up to this great air battle laid out in a no nonsense writing style that's easy to follow. Ranks right up with Len Deighton's "Fighter" as one of the best histories of the Battle.
STEVEN HOFFMAN
Aug 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The secret hero of the Battle of Britain

Korda has dug up the mystery man who prepared Churchill 's air defense force just in time to fend off the vastly larger Luftwaffe in the summer and fall of 1940 when England fought alone. Splendid tale, artfully told.
Tim Bales
Jun 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having ready hundreds of books on WWII I found another one I enjoyed greatly. Look forward to reading more of Michael books.
Jane Thompson
Oct 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I have been reading books on the Battle of Britain for 58 years. This one, by Michael Korda, was far and away the best I have ever read. Instead of just discussing the battle, he tells how the system was set up, the radar, the WAAFs, the building of the Spitfires and the Hurricanes. I knew nothing about the preparation for the war.
Then he goes into the battle and describes not only war, but also how politics was involved. He talks bout the interactions among Dowding, Churchill, and Leigh-Mallory
...more
Karen
Feb 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed this book on the Battle of Britain. I have read so much concerning WWII, and have always admired the British for their fortitude in handling such a devastating time. In many ways it is true, that this was the 'greatest generation'. When I think of the young men (and women) who served during that time, exposing themselves to constant danger in order to save the country that they loved...it makes me wish I had lived then among people who were so honorable. I get tired of the a ...more
Scott Pierce
Feb 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Chief Architect of Fighter Command was Hugh Dowding, who doubted conventional wisdom that "the bomber would always get through." Dowding understood the value of the fighter planes, and wanted to make sure they were not sent to France, and were integrated into the RAF package and HQ.

Dowding understood the need to bleed the Germans, and saw the need to concentrate on taking out their bombers - understood that the crews were more difficult to train and replace.

Interesting that due to shortages
...more
Bob Schmitz
Jun 16, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: history-wwii
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
...more
Kay
Apr 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Andrew
May 31, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Patrick Ewing
Sep 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Excellent!
Mark
Jan 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Scottnshana
Sep 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
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
...more
Craig
Jan 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: war-military
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
Jerry Smith
Mar 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, war, 2012-read
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
...more
Kenyon Harbison
Mar 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Jim B
May 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
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is an English-born writer and novelist who was editor-in-Chief of Simon & Schuster in New York City.
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