The Most Dangerous Enemy: A History of the Battle of Britain
By Stephe en Bungay
(Aurum Press, 497 pages, £14.99) Stephen Bungayy is often referred to as ‘the leading expertpert on the Battle of Britain’, and his latest offering enhances this claim. At close to 500 pages, this is a substantial tome packed with the kind of facts, graphs, maps, photographs and general attention to detail that would be the envy of most academics.
However, the great triumph of The Most Dangerous Enemy is that while hitting such rigorous highs, the author never loses sight of the fact that the Battle of Britain is ultimately a boys’ own story; a do-or-die white-knuckle ride – a nation’s ‘finest hour’.
So, while providing strong contextual background, Bungay does not sell his readers short when it comes to the kind of thrills that can only be provided by those who were there: young men like Hugh Dundas, who, having spent their childhoods fascinated by tales of First World War aces, were suddenly faced with the harsh realities of the role. “With sudden, sickening, stupid fear I realised that I was being fired on and I pulled my Spitfire round hard, so that the blood was forced down from my head. I was close to panic in the bewilderment of hot fear of that first dogfight.”
This is a compelling read then, as well as an important historical record.
Martin Purdy is a doctoral
researcher at Lancaster
University and the author
of three books on the First