Academic journal article Military Review

THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN: Five Months That Changed History, May-October 1940

Academic journal article Military Review

THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN: Five Months That Changed History, May-October 1940

Article excerpt

THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN: Five Months that Changed History, May-October 1940, James Holland, St. Martin's Press, New York, 2010, 592 pages, $40.00.

Does the world really need another Battle of Britain book? After reading James Holland's The Battle of Britain, I can affi rm that the world is indeed richer for its publication. The Battle of Britain is a well-written book about combat. Its David-and-Goliath appeal continues to have a mesmerizing resonance.

Holland's book is noteworthy because he understands that the weapons with which wars are fought typically result from decisions made earlier. In our own time, former Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said, "As you know, you go to war with the Army you have." In that sense, Holland ably lays out the groundwork to understand the Battle of Britain in a greater strategic overview, tracing how the disaster that befell the Allies in May 1940 in France affected just how much of the Royal Air Force was going to be employed in this cauldron. It is a shocking revelation that even before the Battle of Britain, the British had already lost over 1,000 planes, and more importantly, over 300 pilots. Holland implicitly and subtly argues that the Battle of Britain begins with the air coverage for the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk.

Holland's analysis of the primary weapon systems-the Me-109, Me-110, Spitfi re, and Hurricane-is eye-opening. He demonstrates that the Me-109 was easily the superior plane as a weapon platform in terms of firepower and ammo carrying capability. …

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