Stephen Karlson (shkarlson) wrote in 50bookchallenge,
Stephen Karlson

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In a totalitarian state, sometimes the only thing you can do with the official line is quote it in an ironic way.  So it was with Luftwaffe pilots being assured by headquarters that the Royal Air Force was finished.  In Tim Clayton and Phil Craig's Finest Hour: The Battle of Britain, a book written as companion to a PBS series (the PBS online store is a typical liberal cock-up, there's no quick link to the videos, if any) that aired a few years ago, that's one of the vignettes.  I'll keep Book Review No. 19 as short as a dogfight: this is a collection of recollections from participants in the scrap, many of whom were still living at the time the series was recorded.  I recall the closing line of the series as something like "they couldn't win, but they chose not to lose."  That's the mindset of many of the people interviewed: no matter how hard the Hun hit them, they would not fold.  But in not folding, they won.  Before the summer of 1940, whatever the Führer commanded, someone would bear, often in great pain.  But from the summer on, those threats began to become less credible, and on occasion, there'd be a British raid on Berlin or some other German target, the first rumblings of what was to come.

Authors Clayton and Craig steer clear of the high strategy.  They note that it's unlikely a successful German air campaign would have lead to an invasion of the British Isles, for reasons noted here.  (As if Rhine barges were going to get across the Channel in anything resembling an orderly fashion, but I digress.) Was a Stuka as good as an SBD at bombing ships?  But the SBD was most effective against aircraft carriers.  On the other hand, had Britain sued for a separate peace, how many more fire hoses would be forthcoming from the United States?

(Cross-posted to Cold Spring Shops.)
Tags: history, military, television, war

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