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Publisher's Summary

With an introduction read by Max Hastings. Bomber Command's offensive against the cities of Germany was one of the epic campaigns of the Second World War.

More than 56,000 British and Commonwealth aircrew and 600,000 Germans died in the course of the RAF's attempt to win the war by bombing. The struggle began in 1939 with a few score primitive Whitleys, Hampdens and Wellingtons, and ended six years later with 1,600 Lancasters, Halifaxes, and Mosquitoes razing whole cities in a single night. Max Hastings traced the developments of area bombing using a wealth of documnets, letters, diaries, and interviews with key surviving witnesses. Bomber Command is his classic account of one of the most controversial struggles of the war. Max Hastings, author of over 20 books, has been editor of the Daily Telegraph and the Evening Standard. He has received many awards for his journalism and was knighted in 2002.

©1979 Max Hastings (P)2014 Audible Studios

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Stunningly real. Gritty. Breathtaking.

My favorite WWII book, second only to The Rise and Fall. I often fear getting into my car to hear the book, wondering what our poor lads will suffer tonight. And the most thoughtful and cogent analysis of area bombing you will EVER hear. I told my WWII POW father to NOT read this book. He will be right back there in the 15th AF flying over Poland and Hungary. Too real. Just awesome.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • K Hunter
  • Issaquah, WA United States
  • 05-02-16

A more effective recount of 1940s paperwork

I struggle slightly with this title. Large portions of the book felt cold and impersonal as the author quoted memorandum after memorandum in tedious detail. The personal stories of tribulation and courage where too few and far between, and the pain and suffering of war was relegated to almost a footnote.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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A well told story

This is a well told story of the other great air campaign of the Second World War. In the US we normally only hear of the 8th Air Force. Well done on a wonderful telling of the story of Bomber Command from 1939 to 45.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Good overview of British bomber campaign

Hastings gives a comprehensive overview of the British WWII bombing campaign. He describes it from pretty much all angles. After listening to it, I had an even greater respect for the British bomber crews (it seems like being assigned to a heavy bomber crew was almost a death sentence during the war) while also confirming my already very negative opinion of the British leadership for their callous disregard for the massive civilian casualties -- or even for the lives of their own airmen. If the allies hadn't been the victors, Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur "Bomber" Harris, in particular, would have almost certainly been charged as a war criminal. The need for area bombing of civilian targets by all the allies is a debate that will probably never be settled, but I think it will remain a serious black mark on an otherwise noble war effort.

On a side note, why do the Brits think that all american's talk like John Wayne? Barnaby Edwards' narration is great except when he tries to do accents. His american accent is absolutely awful and detracts from the book. His Canadian accent isn't much better. Can we make an agreement that the American's won't try to do a British accent if the the Brits will agree not to try sound like Americans?

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Another great book by Max Hastings

A master writer at the top of his game. Well worth the time. Well narrated too.

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another great book by mr hastings

the remarkable courage of these men can not be adequately described. my 30 years in the USAF and that of my fellow service members is utterly pale by comparison. as far as the opionions expressed about the killing of civilians, I for one do not share this compassion. war is a very ugly ordeal and unless all those involved military and civilian feel the pain it will inevitably always be with us. That I'm sorry to have to say.

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Outstanding

Max Hastings demonstrates his skill as an author. Well done! Especially for one of his early works.

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A British Story in British Voice

Would you listen to Bomber Command again? Why?

I tend to listen to each of my Audible purchases twice. Not this one, although I may do so in the future. It just isn't as comprehensive a book as Max Hastings' later works.

What did you like best about this story?

Barnaby Edwards' reading was excellent. I appreciated the second to last chapter, which detailed the experience of the Germans "under the bombs" (whereas the bulk of the book dealt with the British experience of the campaign).

Which character – as performed by Barnaby Edwards – was your favorite?

To an American ear, his Churchill performance seemed spot on.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I had no extreme reaction to this book. The material verged on dryness a lot of the time. Hastings takes on a very strong British tone in this book. There's a slight air of detachment that persists throughout the telling. That's not to say the material isn't enlightening.

Any additional comments?

As an American brought up on tales of the air war over Europe, I realized that the breadth of my knowledge dealt with the American and German perspectives. I wanted to know what the British went through. I appreciated this book because it gave me exactly that: a British perspective on their area bombing campaign. I've gained plenty of knowledge on their campaign, and along with it, a new appreciation for what the British bomber crews went through in the night skies over Western Europe.

In this book, you spend a lot of time in the bombers with the crews, and an equal amount of time at the planning table with figures like Butch Harris. What you don't experience in great detail, however, is the experience of the Germans. Hastings does devote some time to explaining the German air defenses. He quotes the night fighter pilots on one or two occasions. The second to last chapter is devoted to the experience of the civilians on the ground at Darmstadt. However, I craved more--so much that I've actually bought a separate book on the Hamburg raid of 1943 to bolster what I feel is a gap in my knowledge.

The short is this: Bomber Command isn't as comprehensive as Max Hastings' later works, such as Nemesis and Inferno.

The vast majority of this book is from the British perspective--which makes complete sense, absolutely. I just felt that it bore mention that as I listened, I had a continuous urge to get out of the Lancasters, Sterlings, and Wellingtons. The voice and tone are also distinctly British, which isn't easy to explain, but as an American, I had trouble *feeling* the events that Hastings was recounting. There's a sort of divide between our cultures that other Americans will probably notice as they listen to this story. I don't enjoy saying this, but I couldn't bring myself to root for the British bomber crews in the same way that I do for the boys in the Fortresses and the Liberators.

If you, like me, are an American who's looking to expand his knowledge about the air war, this book is worth your time. You'll learn a lot. Just be prepared to know the British side--don't expect a comprehensive telling from all who experienced the night bombing campaign.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

You'd better be a big fan of history

There were some very good portions of the book, but it dragged endlessly in some areas making the listening arduous to say the least, boring to say the most. An abridged version, I think, would be much better and you could cut the length in half. I believe it had too much added hyperbole for dramatic effect and that coupled with getting too far into the minutia of each operational plan and detail was mind numbing. Edwards was just alright, his singing was horrible though, yes he sings at one point. I guess I expected more from this book and was looking for the British side after listening to "Masters of the Air" by Donald L. Miller. This book is completely and strictly an historical account for history's sake and it reads like one. As opposed to "Masters of the Air" "Bomber Command" is boring.

I enjoy history and especially WWII and while I'm not looking for it to be entertaining in the fictional sense of entertainment it does need some level of personal dramatic effect to bring it to life. This book had none of that. That said, if you really enjoy knowing each and every detail of WWII without really getting a feel for the personal emotions of the characters being discussed then you'll likely enjoy this book.

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Fantastic classic

After reading this over two decades ago, I can't believe how many key points I'd forgotten.

A must listen for any interested in WWII history.

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  • Jonathan Cunningham
  • 06-19-16

Outstanding!

Loved this book. Makes you want to know more. Max Hastings is a great historian and author. Beautifully read by Barnaby Edwards.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • petitbilbo
  • 11-25-15

First of a long series of truly exceptional books

This is an exceptionally well written account of British bombing of Germany during WW 2, in Hasting's own style.
One truly awe inspiring part is the detailed story of a bombing as experienced by its victims.
Highly recommended.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Andy T
  • 05-24-15

Changed my thinking

This was beautifully written and narrated, telling sometimes harrowing stories with compassion and accuracy. Unlike many histories, this worked as a story in its own right. Well worth listening to.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Kirstine
  • 10-24-17

Unvarnished truth in painful detail

This is a detailed account of the highs and lows of bomber command’s influence on the outcome of the Second World War. My previous knowledge was largely limited to the stories of the heroism and sacrifice made by the pilots in the Battle of Britain in 1940. However, the story told here covers far more of the history of the service from its infancy in the First World War through to the end of the second. Like so many organisations the service was beset by personality clashes, inefficiencies, and wrong decisions, but throughout one is awed by the courage of the young men who faced death or terrible injuries night after night. The book doesn’t flinch from describing the horror they experienced which is made all the more forceful by using personal stories of individual servicemen. Nor does it avoid the toll on German civilians as a consequence of the decision to bomb towns and cities.

There is an enormous amount of detail about numbers of aircraft sent on sorties, how many were lost and the technical advances in communications and aircraft design. A bit more than I needed but it certainly makes this a definitive record of the service. The author reveals the short-comings of the top brass and their errors of judgement and hubris over the effectiveness of their plans which at times led to needless loss of life of the aircrew. It’s chilling to hear of the assessment of sorties in terms of percentages of planes lost when one realises that each means maybe half a dozen lives lost.

I admire Max Hasting’s writing style that injects urgency into the narrative and his use of the personal experiences of the people involved which brings home the impact of war, however, I winced each time he spoke of ‘England’ being at war with Germany; the young ‘Englishmen’ fighting for our country and the ‘English’ towns being bombed. It’s unforgivable to ignore the contribution by the servicemen from other parts of UK who played their part; and for the towns and cities, such as, Peterhead, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast which were all severely bombed on many occasions.

The narrator is first class.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Sean R.
  • 08-12-15

Very informative

Very good narration
Very interesting store and opened my eyes to the truth
No always an easy listen but one that every body should listen to

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Fulcrum83
  • 08-25-15

A fitting tribute

Any additional comments?

All in all, a very good audio book.As an aviation enthusiast i Had more than a passing familiarity with the subject of RAF heavy bomber operations to start with, and yet I still learned a great deal and felt entertained throughout. This will certainly bear re-listening in the future.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr. Robert Hunter
  • 07-21-15

Must read for anyone interested in bomber command

What did you like best about this story?

Great detailed and frank history of Bomber Command. Fascinating to understand what drove the strategy and the men who carried it out.

What about Barnaby Edwards’s performance did you like?

Brilliantly performed

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • J
  • 05-21-15

Bang On Target!

An outstanding look at the history of Bomber Command during the second world war! A fantastically written book only equalled by the quality of the narrator this is an absolute must have for any World War 2 or aviation enthusiast.

This book helped dispel and clarify many myths and clear up just how effective and relevant the RAF bomber force was to the outcome of the conflict. Going in chronological order through the war years the facts and figures are balanced out nicely by looking at the history of a specific squadron for each year of the war.

It would be impossible to state how much I enjoyed this book apart from saying that although it took many hours to reach the end I instantly started it from the beginning again!

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • robergene
  • 02-01-15

Awesome

Arguably the most controversial and debated allied campaign of the war, impossible to have an informed opinion without first reading this work

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • D. Scouller
  • 01-21-15

Nice balance view of Bomber Command

Brings to life the personalities of BC but don't pull any punches at describing both the positives and negatives of the management, strategy and tactics used.
Very enjoyable listen.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Adam
  • 02-28-16

Very detailed account of bomber command

an excellently researched account of bomber command. The book contains a good balance of first hand accounts and historical facts with the main protagonist views covered in detail.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful