26 September 2011

Can Bomber Command Get Any Respect? Review of Bomber Boys

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sometimes it is amazing to see the differences between how different people (or peoples) see the same events. Like his earlier book Fighter Boys Patrick Bishop tells Bomber Boys from a British perspective and for a British audience. However, I was well aware of the great stories and mythos of Fighter Command and the Battle of Britain. That quintessentially British story had been transported across the pond with only changes to vocabulary.

I didn't even realize how unfamiliar I was with the story of RAF Bomber Command. I had assumed that the RAF's strategic bombing campaign was held in the same generally high esteem in the UK as the strategic efforts of the Eighth Air Force are held in the US. Apparently, this was a very false assumption.

While the public in the US debated the efficacy and ethics of dropping the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the British public debated (or ignored) the ethics and efficacy of the entire area-bombing effort against Germany.

I don't think this is the book to truly explore these issues. It is a history of the people who flew the planes, not an operational history or philosophical treatise. Bishop assumes the audience has been following these discussions and avoids making a ruling on either ethics or ultimate cost/benefit analysis.

The ultimate difference in how the US and the UK welcomed their Bomber Boys home rests on the fact that the British had suffered under a bombardment of their own. People don't like being bombed, ergo people who have been bombed, don't like bombers.

I think I just added another month or so until I can face the volume on my shelf addressing the campaign from the German pespective.

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Blogger Anna said...

Lately I'm more drawn to novels set during WWII than books like this, but it still sounds interesting. I've linked to your post on War Through the Generations.

3/10/11 16:30  

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