Given Dowding’s extracurricular activities, one can understand why Churchill canned him. Still, Fisher’s portrait of the...

READ REVIEW

A SUMMER BRIGHT AND TERRIBLE

WINSTON CHURCHILL, LORD DOWDING, RADAR, AND THE IMPOSSIBLE TRIUMPH OF THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN

Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the hyperrational Sherlock Holmes, believed in fairies and ghosts. Why should a pioneer of radar defense systems not have done the same?

His contemporaries, writes science historian and novelist Fisher (Hard Evidence, 1995, etc.), had trouble linking RAF commander-in-chief Hugh Caswall Tremenheere Dowding to the curious little man who lectured on spiritualism, talked to the long-dead inhabitants of Atlantis and believed in flying saucers. “Is this Lord Dowding any relation to Sir Hugh Dowding who fought the Battle of Britain?” asked a disbelieving attendee of one such lecture; when his friend replied that Dowding’s son must have been the hero, the man added, “I wonder what a smart guy like him would think of his old man going off the rails that way.” Though unconventional, Dowding, as Fisher shows, was a careful reader of the skies, a gifted strategist of the air whose interest in “invisible rays” led to the establishment of ground-based radar defenses around southern England just in time to help ward off a Nazi invasion, and whose nimble command of the RAF, though not without its controversies, saved the day at the Battle of Britain. For instance, Fisher notes, Dowding had a much-discussed habit of hoarding his fighters, “sending them up a few at a time into overwhelming odds so that he might have a few ready for tomorrow”; his pilots may not have enjoyed those odds, but when the Luftwaffe made its last desperate attempt to clear the way for that invasion, Dowding had the wherewithal to fight them off—and the radar to indicate just where the Luftwaffe would be found on that fateful day. All the same, Dowding does not often figure in surveys of WWII history, at least in some measure because Churchill fired him not long after the great British victory and wrote him out of his History of the Second World War.

Given Dowding’s extracurricular activities, one can understand why Churchill canned him. Still, Fisher’s portrait of the dotty Dowding is a pleasure to read.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2005

ISBN: 1-59376-047-7

Page Count: 282

Publisher: Shoemaker & Hoard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2005

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 10

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

Did you like this book?

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?

more