In the summer of 1940, the Nazi war machine was at its zenith. France, Denmark, Norway and the Low Countries were all under occupation after a series of lightning military campaigns. Only Britain stood in the way of the complete triumph of Nazi tyranny. But for the first time in the war, Hitler did not prevail. The traditional narrative of 1940 holds that Britain was only saved from German conquest by the pluck of RAF Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain. The image of Dad's Army recruits training with broomsticks is a classic symbol of the nation's supposed desperation in the face of the threat from Operation Sealion, as the German plan for invasion was code-named. Yet as Leo McKinstry details, the British were far more ruthless and proficient than is usually recognised. The brilliance of the RAF was not an exception but part of a pattern of magnificent organisation. In almost every sphere of action, such as the destruction of the French naval fleet or the capture of German spies, Britain's approach reflected an uncompromising spirit of purpose and resolution. Using a wealth of primary materials from both British and German archives, Leo McKinstry provides a ground-breaking new assessment of the six fateful months in mid-1940, beginning with Winston Churchill's accession to power in May and culminating in Germany's abandonment of Operation Sealion.
The persistent perception of Britain’s preparation for the imminent German invasion in the summer of 1940, which was codenamed Operation Sealion by Hitler, has been of a few RAF pilots holding the Luftwaffe at bay, narrowly preventing the Wehrmacht from launching its brutally efficient blitzkrieg against the enthusiastic amateurs personified by Dad’s Army. However, McKinstry convincingly argues that Britain was far more organised than this. Bomber Command regularly pounded the enemy bases in northern France, while the Royal Navy was an elite fighting force, not only prepared to fend off any invasion, but also used by Churchill to destroy the French Fleet in Algeria to prevent it falling into German hands. This was a typically ruthless decision by a government that would go to any lengths to save the country, even depriving its own citizens of their civil liberties and property rights, all in the name of fighting fascism and paradoxically preserving freedom. This is a very readable account of a difficult time in British history.
'In his immaculately researched and gripping work Leo McKinstry paints a vivid picture ... [He] strikes a balance through reinforcing what the average reader is likely to be aware of and coming up with revelatory nuggets ... stirring and passionate' Daily Express
'If we had lost the Battle of Britain, all that stood between us and a fascist future was the Home Guard, a Dad's Army of oldsters armed with broomsticks. Leo McKinstry's engrossing, forensic review of the evidence challenges that idea and exposes some myths along the way ... McKinstry's admirable book sets the record straight' Daily Mail
'An enthralling story which confirms, should anyone still doubt it, that this really was our 'Finest Hour' Mail on Sunday
'A pacey , readable history of Britain's resistance to the bogeyman across the Channel' The Spectator
'Fans of Leo McKinstry will know what to expect from his superbly written and gripping historical books and the unashamedly patriotic and unputdownable Operation Sealion ... one of his best yet' Daily Express
[A] fascinating, original study' Daily Mail
Publication date: 14/08/2014
Publisher: John Murray Publishers Ltd an imprint of John Murray General Publishing Division
|Publication date:||14th August 2014|
|Publisher:||John Murray Publishers Ltd an imprint of John Murray General Publishing Division|
|Genres:||Biography / Autobiography, History,|
Leo McKinstry writes regularly for the Daily Mail, Sunday Telegraph and Spectator. He has also written several books, including a study of the Labour Party and a bestselling biography of the footballing Charlton brothers. Born in Belfast he was educated in Ireland and at Cambridge University.More About Leo McKinstry