The Most Dan­ger­ous En­emy: A His­tory of the Bat­tle of Bri­tain

By Stephe en Bun­gay

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - THE GUIDE -

(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

World War

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