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Dam Busters: The True Story of the Inventors…

Dam Busters: The True Story of the Inventors and Airmen Who Led the Devastating Raid to Smash the German Dams in 1943 (edição: 2013)

de James Holland (Autor)

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21910121,516 (4.06)2
An account of the daring May 1943 mission to destroy three heavily defended German dams documents the ten-week race to create the necessary weapons and orchestrate a bombing raid that nearly cost the lives of its pilots.
Título:Dam Busters: The True Story of the Inventors and Airmen Who Led the Devastating Raid to Smash the German Dams in 1943
Autores:James Holland (Autor)
Informação:Atlantic Monthly Press (2018), 530 pages
Coleções:Sua biblioteca

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Dam Busters: The True Story of the Inventors and Airmen Who Led the Devastating Raid to Smash the German Dams in 1943 de James Holland


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A great, very details story of the famous 'Dam buster' air raids during WWII. This isn't just the story of the air raid missions or the pilots, most of it is about the invention of the bombs. They almost didn't get built, which would have changed history. Fascinating reading for fans of the non-warfare details of WWII. ( )
  Karlstar | Dec 9, 2021 |
It is now 72 years and 1 weeks since Operation Chastise, the crazy idea to use bouncing bombs to destroy some of Germany's most important dams during World War 2. This book takes you through the story from sketch at a napkin (figuratively speeking), through months and years of convincing and political games until the British war ministry gives the final go ahead. With only a few weeks to go until the water is too low in the dam for the idea to work, the hardware must be built and tested and fixed. The people need to be found, trained and trained even more.

In 20 Lancasters there are 140 crew and this book follows a number of them through this time. The training, the personal conflicts, the fear, the love and the result.

The book will not change your view of the war or give any deep insights. Rather it's an interesting data point of what the result can be of one man's vision and many men's will to give it a go. If you are interested in all things World War 2, then this could be an interesting side lecture. It's easy to read (foregos most of the source references for a more flowing prose) and it was a spectacular idea. ( )
  bratell | Dec 25, 2020 |
I decided to read James Holland’s book about Operation Chastise after rewatching Michael Anderson’s 1955 film about the British effort to destroy the Ruhr Valley dams. Seeing it again sparked my curiosity about the attack, and I wanted to learn how closely the history matched up to Anderson’s fictionalized account. Holland’s book was a natural choice for me, as I sought to steer clear from some of the older works on the subject, and I had enjoyed reading his general history of the war between Britain and Germany.

It proved an excellent choice in every respect. Holland begins his book with the Royal Air Force’s low-level raid on Augsburg in April 1942, one that was conducted by the newly introduced Lancaster bombers. The high loss rate of this raid relatively early in Bomber Command’s campaign against Germany pushed them away from such attacks in favor of ones at much higher altitudes. This highlights the unusual nature of Barnes Wallis’s idea of the bouncing bomb, which was not just a novel weapon delivered in an unusual way, but one that required the heavy bombers to employ low-level flying with which their crews were largely unfamiliar — and this was well before factoring in the challenges of doing so at night over water and with the precision needed.

Holland then walks the readers through both the development of the bouncing bomb and Wallis’s efforts to win over the RAF to its use. As he shows, a key factor was the enthusiasm of the Royal Navy for the concept, as they wanted to use similar bombs for an attack on the German battleship Tirpitz then sheltered in the fijords of Norway. It was their interest along with the support of Charles Portal, the head of the RAF, that led to the decision in March 1943 to develop the bomb over the objections of Arthur Harris, the head of Bomber Command, who saw the idea as a distraction from the strategic bombing campaign that was only then achieving the scale he wanted. Nevertheless, Holland credits Harris with the professionalism of fully supporting the plan once the decision was made, with his authorization the diversion of precious Lancasters and the reassignment of experienced men to a secret new unit formed to bomb the Ruhr Valley dams.

The description of the formation of 617 Squadron is one of the strengths of the book, as Holland goes to considerable lengths to describe the lives of the men involved. Central to his focus is the squadron’s commander, Guy Gibson, who as Holland shows was a much more complicated figure than his public image as an earnest young man. Still in his mid-20s, he was nonetheless entrusted with the challenging tasks of forming a unit and preparing it for a mission unlike anything the Lancaster pilots had ever flown before, all while coping with emotional exhaustion after having just completed his tour of missions. His complicated personal life is one of several that Holland explores, which humanizes the men and underscores the depths of the sacrifice they were making.

In detailing the mission itself, Holland explains well the unique challenges posed by bombing each of the three dams. With the Möhne Dam, the problem was the flak protection which, while stripped down in favor of priorities elsewhere, was still a threat to the bombers. With the embankment dam on the Sorpe, its design meant that direct hits on it were necessary. And for the Eder Dam, the lack of flak protection reflected the difficulties posed by the geography, which made successful approaches difficult. Though only the Möhne and Eder dams were breached in the attack and both were subsequently repaired within months, Holland underscores both the destruction caused by the breaches and the enormous diversion of resources necessary to rebuild the dams to argue that the attacks were a lot more successful than many analyses of them have concluded, fully justifying the effort the British made to destroy them.

Holland bases his account of the raid on both the available archival records and the considerable literature that has been written about it. He does not limit his perspective, either, as he includes the Germans’ experience of the raid in ways that enrich his narrative and provide important support for his arguments. Though his effort to develop the stories of the men of the 617 Squadron doesn’t always fully distinguish them from each other, they do help to humanize them and highlight the extent of what they were risking by undertaking such a dangerous mission. Together it makes for a superb study of the raid that should be read by anyone interested in learning the history of it. ( )
  MacDad | Mar 27, 2020 |
Dam Busters: The True Story of the Inventors and Airmen Who Led the Devastating Raid to Smash the German Dams in 1943 by James Holland is the story of one of the more interesting innovations of World War II and the brave men who carried out the mission. James Holland was born in Salisbury in 1970 and educated at Durham University. He is the author of Fortress Malta, Italy's Sorrow, The Battle of Britain and The Sergeant Jack Tanner series of historical fiction.

As I read this book, I couldn't help thinking, "Where have I read this before?": long distance bombing mission, nearly impossible target, near seat of the pants navigation, and British fliers. Then I remember reading Vulcan 607 (the 1982 bombing mission of the Falkland Islands) and the parallels are remarkable. I am beginning to think these types of missions just might be a RAF tradition. This story takes place in World War II and involves the newly formed 617th Squadron.

Britain is looking for a way to bring the war to an early close. Germany is stalled in Russian and the tide is beginning to turn. In Germany, the population is suffering from seemingly endless bombings from the British and American bombers. They are beginning to doubt Hitler and his leadership but something needs to be done to give the German people the final push and break their spirit and their will to continue the fight. Factories have been bombed, oil reserves have been bombed, coal mines have been bombed, the last source of power is “white coal.” White coal was water power: hydroelectric dams. Holland takes time in the book to give a brief history of German hydroelectric and dam building. Barnes Wallis, Assistant Chief Designer at Vickers-Armstrong,has and idea how to bring and early end to the war by attacking the dams.

“The commander-in-Chief of the RAF's bomber force could not have been clearer. No matter what was being discussed in the corridors of the Air Ministry and the MAP, there would be no such operation taking place if he had anything to do with it. His machines – and his bomber boys – were too valuable to be wasted on mad schemes cooked up by half-baked scientists.”

Holland takes time to introduce the major players the story and relate some information of their personal lives. Many people have seen the movie and most recall only Wallis, Gibson (wing commander), and his dog. The lives and history of the other pilots and crews are discussed in some detail. Wallis' battle to bring his bomb into the war is a major part of the book. Like most great ideas, it takes a serious effort to bring the bomb from the design stage to put on planes flying over Germany.

Dam Busters is a very worthwhile read. Holland writes an excellent history and documents his as well as the introduction players from higher ups in the government and military to all the pilots and crew members of the nineteen planes. Recommended to anyone interested in World War II, the RAF, and secret war time missions. ( )
  evil_cyclist | Mar 16, 2020 |
A book worth reading, especially if you have an affinity for World War II history. The author goes into a lot of detail to not only present the military history, but also to make the characters come alive. In this way, the author shows how each individual played a very important role in the mission undertaken to destroy important dams in Germany, and thus destroying/limiting the Nazis’ ability to supply their war effort.
The damage resulting from the dams’ destruction was much more than just the flood damage and loss of life that was caused by the water from behind the dams. The necessity to rebuild the dams as quickly as possible wound up taking away significant amounts of slave labor from building the Atlantic wall of defense desired by the Nazis. Therefore, the dams destruction indirectly affected the Nazis’ defenses along France, and ultimately limited the building of those defenses. The limiting of the building of those defenses helped to ensure the D-Day invasion was a success.
The book was easy to read overall. The only real criticism I have was the author’s apparent feeling of being required to include the name of one of the leader’s pet dog - the name is a racial slur and I see no reason for its inclusion, and do not understand why the author felt it necessary. Those sections where the dog’s name was used could easily have been edited to inform the reader without using a racial slur. This really tarnished the story. ( )
  highlander6022 | Jan 30, 2019 |
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An account of the daring May 1943 mission to destroy three heavily defended German dams documents the ten-week race to create the necessary weapons and orchestrate a bombing raid that nearly cost the lives of its pilots.

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