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The Most Dangerous Enemy: An Illustrated History of the Battle of Britain    by Stephen Bungay Amazon.com order for
Most Dangerous Enemy
by Stephen Bungay
Order:  USA  Can
Zenith Press, 2010 (2010)
Hardcover
* * *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

A very comprehensive illustrated history of the Battle of Britain, Stephen Bungay's The Most Dangerous Enemy features 25 color and 100 black and white photos, plus 15 diagrams and ten maps of this all important aerial fight to protect Britain's skies during World War II.

Back in print as part of the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, the ten year old classic has been transformed into a new, large-format, fully illustrated edition.

Approaching the vast and much discussed historical event, the author divides his analysis into three broad sections Build-Up, Battle and Aftermath. His approach, while scholarly, avoids being pedantic; thus, the book will appeal to a wide range of readers, not just dyed-in-the-wool historians.

Aside from the generous use of archival photos, Stephen Bungay's informative text is augmented by many short sidebars (Losses from Luftwaffe Low Level Attacks, Aircraft Misidentification Recognition, The Russian Factor, etc.). You'll also find a smattering of three-dimensional diagrams, illustrating dogfights and battle tactics employed by both sides.

The author's extensive research includes interviews with many of the actual participants. His primary intent was to reassess the event and attempt to separate the mythology from the actual facts of what occurred.

In part, this book is a reaction to histories that appeared in the 1980s and 1990s which questioned not only Churchill's leadership but also the quality of the iconic British fighter plane, the Spitfire, and the true importance of the epic struggle itself.

'By the mid-1980s an enormous amount of research had been done into the facts behind the Battle of Britain, including all the actual losses,' writes Bungay. 'I decided to try to sort it out ... British national identity is in flux. So now perhaps it is time to reassess the Battle of Britain without the mythology and to reflect on the values it embodies.'

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