Review | With Wings Like Eagles: A History of the Battle of Britain by Michael Korda

With Wings Like Eagles: A History of the Battle of Britain

Ranked among the greatest battles in British history, along with Waterloo, defeating the Spanish Armada, and Trafalgar, the Battle of Britain stands as a turning point during World War II when the Nazi juggernaut finally faced a foe that would not fall. Though few recognized it immediately, it was the turning of the tide in the war. With With Wings Like Eagles: A History of the Battle of Britain, Michael Korda brings the battle to life, both in the air above England and in the halls of government where defenses we’re planned and prepared.

Fought entirely in the air, the Battle of Britain was the battle for mastery of the skies over England between the pilots of the German Luftwaffe and the Royal Air Force. With German invasion expected during the summer of 1940, Michael Korda takes us back to a detailed look at the preparations for war, the development of new technologies on both sides of the battle–including of the all metal monoplanes, like the Spitfire and the BF-109, and radar as a detection system–as well as the key figures that had the foresight to develop the aerial defense to prepare. In vivid colors we see Neville Chamberline, long considered an appeaser but perhaps a more nuanced figure, Winston Churchill, Reichsmarschall Herman Goring, and others.

Above all, though, this is the story of the obstinate, erudite, difficult, and eccentric Air Chief Marshall Hugh Dowding. His strategy of bleeding the German bomber force held off the Germans through the summer until crossing the English Channel in the inclement fall weather made invasion no longer feasible.

At 336 pages, With Wings Like Eagles: A History of the Battle of Britain is a short and fast read, but never fails to delve into the characters and issues that shaped the battle. At the time, as fight pilots died in numbers higher than could be replaced, that “Never was so much owed by so many to so few.” It’s an apt description of a time when a nation stood on the brink, and only a few stood there and held back the tide. Korda does a wonderful job of bringing it to life, providing perspective, and producing a story that is enjoyable, fascinating, and relevant. If you enjoy histories of World War II, then you’ll enjoy adding this to your collection.

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Overall rating3 of 5 stars false

Parent’s guide: A great piece of history that would probably be well understood by any high school reader with an interest (or a history project) in World War II or aerial combat.

  • Sex: None.
  • Violence: Battle descriptions, as well as some descriptions of how pilots died.
  • Language: Not that I recall.

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About Daniel

Daniel Burton lives in Salt Lake County, Utah, where he practices law by day and everything else by night. He reads about history, politics, and current events, as well as more serious genres such as science fiction and fantasy. You can also follow him on his blog PubliusOnline.com where he muses on politics, the law, books and ideas.