24 Hours at Waterloo
by Robert Kershaw (WH Allen, 448 pages, £9.99) Published in paperback just in time for the bicentenary of this most famous of conflicts, 24 Hours at Waterloo contains everything you’d ever need to know about the battle in one handy tome. Accompanied by maps and a timeline, Robert Kershaw provides readers with a blow-by-blow account of the fateful day based on an array of primary sources, reassembled with forensic precision.
The Secret Life of Bletchley Park with a similar title, this time focusing on the story of the Dunkirk evacuation. Again, McKay uses a combination of oral history interviews with archive material, revealing how the audacious rescue unfolded. Interestingly, we also hear how the events affected civilians back in Blighty, as well as the truth behind Churchill’s rousing ‘We shall fight on the beaches’ speech. Like thousands of young men, George ‘Johnny’ Johnson signed up to serve his country during the Second World War. However, Johnny is unique, being the only surviving British veteran of the 617 Squadron – perhaps better known as the ‘Dambusters’. Packed with anecdotes, this tells the story of the raid in Johnny’s own words, as well as his childhood and life after retiring from the forces.
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