EAGLE DAY: The Battle of Britain by Richard Collier

EAGLE DAY: The Battle of Britain

Email this review


This is a triumph of interviewing in which 434 Britons, Americans, Germans, Poles, Canadians, etc., associated with the R.A.F. and the Luftwaffe, describe the six weeks during which the German air force hurled everything it had at England--and broke its own spirit in failure. The time is August 6 to September 15, 1940 and the people are pilots, W.A.A.F. radar operators, newsmen and so on. The whole is shored up with quotations from a vast literature of diaries, logs, police blotters and official sources. Collier follows closely a handful of underdogs and upperdogs. He seems most eager to report either on official scenes loaded with irony or on battle pieces roaring with pain and courage and the mischief of fate. At least those are what stand out from the hundreds of fragments. Eagle Day was to be Hitler's code word for the launching of Operation Sea Lion, the invasion of Britain, a battle which was never mounted after the Germans discovered that the British fought hardest with their backs to the wall. Few readers will forget Collier's picture of a fatuously happy Goering instructing his officers with toy electric trains and plane models that dropped bombs. The many scenes of courage are done excellently but most of us are inured to the stock responses such scenes elicit. Recommended, not as a reference work but for its immediate excitement.

Pub Date: June 23rd, 1966
Publisher: Dutton