Chastise: The Dambusters (Paperback)Max Hastings (author)
- 10+ in stock
Boldly interrogating the accepted myths surrounding the iconic Dambusters raids of 1943, Hastings contrasts the bravery of the bombers and ingenuity of the engineers with the suffering and devastation the operation caused to the German public. Meticulously researched and compellingly argued, this is a masterful exercise in military revisionism from one of our greatest historians.
Operation Chastise, the destruction of the Mohne and Eder dams in north-west Germany by the RAF's 617 Squadron on the night of 16/17 May 1943, was an epic that has passed into Britain's national legend.
Max Hastings grew up embracing the story, the classic 1955 movie and the memory of Guy Gibson, the 24-year-old wing-commander who led the raid. In the 21st Century, however, he urges that we should see the dambusters in much more complex shades. The aircrew's heroism was entirely real, as was the brilliance of Barnes Wallis, inventor of the 'bouncing bombs'. But commanders who promised their young fliers that success could shorten the war fantasised as ruthlessly as they did about the entire bomber offensive. Some 1,400 civilians perished in the biblical floods that swept through the Mohne valley, more than half of them Russian and Polish women, slave labourers.
Hastings vividly describes the evolution of Wallis' bomb, and of the squadron which broke the dams. But he also portrays in harrowing detail those swept away by the torrents. He argues that what modern Germans call the Mohnenkatastrophe imposed on the Nazi war machine temporary disruption, rather than a crippling blow. Ironically, Air Marshal Sir Arthur 'Bomber' Harris gained much of the public credit, though he bitterly opposed Chastise as a distraction from his city-burning blitz. Harris also made perhaps the operation's biggest mistake - failure to launch a conventional attack on the huge post-raid repair operation which could have transformed the impact of the dam breaches on Ruhr industry.
Here once again is a dramatic retake on familiar history by a master of the art. Hastings sets the Dams Raid in the big picture of the bomber offensive and of the Second World War, with moving portraits of the young airmen, so many of whom died; of Barnes Wallis; the monstrous Harris; the tragic Guy Gibson, together with superb narrative of the action of one of the most extraordinary episodes in British history.
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Number of pages: 400
Weight: 390 g
Dimensions: 198 x 129 x 31 mm
'A virtuoso performance from a veteran military historian. It is a white-knuckle narrative that brings clarity and insight to a much-loved tale, as well as offering a vital corrective to the drum-thumping conclusions of earlier books.' - The Sunday Times
'Hastings recounts the actual raids with dramatic intensity ... He brings us into those Lancasters, flying perilously low, straight into flak ... Superb.' - The Times
'Thoughtful and gripping ... This is a fine book combining great storytelling with a deep appreciation of the melancholy and waste that march in step with glory.' Patrick Bishop, The Telegraph
'What is at stake in this revision of the old glorious narrative is something important. The debate over whether this particular raid mattered is, in miniature, the wider historiographical debate over the morals and efficacy of the whole bombing war ... A powerful parable which might instruct us in our own confused times.' - Spectator
'Hastings, who is a master of his craft, unfolds the story skilfully ... It doesn't matter how many times you have seen the film, or heard the story, this book is gripping from start to finish' - Keith Lowe, The Literary Review
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A magnificent book - this is Sir Max Hastings at his very best. He puts 617 Squadron and the attack itself in the wider context of the war; sublimely draws portraits of the key characters involved; gives a most... More
“Methodical Research throws new light on this event”
Very much enjoyed this thorough and well researched account of the Dambusters Raid . So sad to learn that the consequences for the German war effort were negligible , and the main devastation related to civilians and... More
This book is a well researched and written account of an operation that many think they know all about from an old film and old books. However, the reality is much different and this book is a valuable factual... More
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