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Chastise : The Dambusters Story 1943 - Max Hastings

Chastise

The Dambusters Story 1943

Hardcover Published: 5th September 2019
ISBN: 9780008280529
Number Of Pages: 464

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A brand new history of the Dambusters raid from best-selling and critically acclaimed military historian, Max Hastings.

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 Mohnekatastrophe 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.

Industry Reviews

Praise for Chastise

`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.' 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, 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

`Max Hastings is an exceptional historian and has first-hand knowledge of the men behind this particular operation' Keith Lowe, Literary Review

ISBN: 9780008280529
ISBN-10: 0008280525
Audience: General
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 464
Published: 5th September 2019
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 24.0 x 16.0  x 3.5
Weight (kg): 0.68

Earn 88 Qantas Points
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