21 April 2008

Bomber Boys

I'm back from 10 days in the United States, plus a few more days of school holidays that made working from home rather difficult. Reading the Guardian newspaper's book review section over the weekend, I noted that Patrick Bishop's book was riding high in the paperback non-fiction best sellers. I've not read the book, so I can't comment directly.

Britain's bombing of Germany during the Second World War remains a controversial topic, yet one that has had enduring interest to British book buyers in particular. I have strong views about it, which I should put on the Web at some point. I have a sample chapter I wrote for a book I wanted someone to publish about Britain's solitary defence of civilization during 1940-1. The subject I opted for was the Strategic Bombing Offensive against Germany, as it was a self-contained topic unlike say, the Western Desert campaign. (From which I would have had to draw in the Mediterranean naval war and the invasions of Syria and Iraq.) It would be an easy matter to post that for everyone to read. However, it's fair to say that my outlook has changed somewhat since 1987, when I was researching the material in the Public Records Office at Kew.

However, I'm not sure that what I wrote twenty-one years ago would suit the mood of military history readers in 2008. Today people want to read highly personal accounts of what it was like to experience war, and not managerial issues of how to deploy resources in order both to ensure national survival and to establish effective platforms for a counterattack.

Bishop, I suspect, has established himself as the kind of franchise author I have previously characterized as the sort who finds his way on to British bestseller lists. He's a journalist by trade, just like Max Hastings, another franchise author.

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