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Publisher's Summary

A brand-new history of the Dambusters raid from best-selling and critically acclaimed military historian Max Hastings.

Operation Chastise, the destruction of the Mohne and Eder dams in Northwest Germany by the RAF’s 617 Squadron on the night of 16/17 May 1943, was an epic that has passed into Britain’s national legend.

Max Hastings grew up embracing the story, the classic 1955 movie and the memory of Guy Gibson, the 24-year-old wing commander who led the raid. In the 21st century, however, he urges that we should see the Dambusters in much more complex shades.

The aircrew’s heroism was entirely real, as was the brilliance of Barnes Wallis, inventor of the ‘bouncing bombs’. But commanders who promised their young fliers that success could shorten the war fantasised as ruthlessly as they did about the entire bomber offensive. Some 1,400 civilians perished in the biblical floods that swept through the Mohne valley, more than half of them Russian and Polish women, slave labourers.

Hastings vividly describes the evolution of Wallis’ bomb and of the squadron which broke the dams. But he also portrays in harrowing detail those swept away by the torrents. He argues that what modern Germans call the Mohnekatastrophe imposed on the Nazi war machine temporary disruption, rather than a crippling blow.

Ironically, Air Marshal Sir Arthur ‘Bomber’ Harris gained much of the public credit, though he bitterly opposed Chastise as a distraction from his city-burning blitz. Harris also made perhaps the operation’s biggest mistake - failure to launch a conventional attack on the huge post-raid repair operation which could have transformed the impact of the dam breaches on Ruhr industry.

Here once again is a dramatic retake on familiar history by a master of the art. Hastings sets the Dams Raid in the big picture of the bomber offensive and of the Second World War, with moving portraits of the young airmen, so many of whom died; of Barnes Wallis; of the monstrous Harris; and of the tragic Guy Gibson, together with superb narrative of the action of one of the most extraordinary episodes in British history.

©2019 Max Hastings (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

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  • per
  • 09-09-2019

Detailed story but not boring at all.

If you are a Ww2 reader you will go trough this book in a jiffy. Plenty detail and good persona info. I recomend this book.

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  • huskywoo
  • 15-09-2019

A Story of Real People and Moral Complexity

If you were brought up with the memory of the 1955 film and tally ho tales of derring do the real story of the Dambusters is much more moving, tragically nuanced and morally ambiguous. A story of real people with all the flaws of real people which, doesn't detract from the heroism of their actions. Max Hastings also relates in moving detail the tragic loss of life sustained by the civilian population and foreign forced labourers caught in the deluge unleashed by the breached dams. Thought provoking and moving.

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  • Paul R Gregory
  • 05-10-2019

Simply Excellent

Max Hastings is, and has always been, my favourite military history author. This most recent addition to his vast body of work is simply excellent.

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  • E P
  • 17-04-2020

Sub Hastings is still worth a read

I have read a number of Max Hasting books. I have always found him informative and lively. While I am glad to have read Chastise, this is a bit of a disappointment. It brings no new light to the subject and feels rushed and insubstantial. After Vietnam, it is a let dowm

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  • JJC
  • 05-02-2020

Another masterful epic from Max Hastings

The Dambusters rank pretty high in the mythology of the 39-45 War and surely no-one doesn't know the story, if only from the classic film. Having seen and having read quite a lot on this subject in the past I was concerned that there wasn't much more to say on the subject, so I'd previously resisted buying this title. However, of course I shouldn't have worried. Max Hastings yet again brings his power of massive research, intellectual reach and historical insight to bear and he weaves the history, the interviews and the analysis into a consistently compelling narrative with not a little opinion on some of the associated personalities and the significance of some of the results of the mission. Highly recommended.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-01-2020

Essential history of Chastise

The best analysis of operation Chastise and its aftermath to be found. Precisely and succinctly read.

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  • Philip
  • 10-11-2019

Extraordinarily good well balanced book.

This is brilliantly researched and narrated. He’s not fallen into the modern trap of judging long distant events by today’s standards. He’s acknowledged brilliance, imagination, courage and sorrow where it deserves. His analysis is also revealing and helps understand the mistakes on both sides. This books adds new dimensions to other work.

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  • Billy
  • 08-11-2019

informative

really enjoyed this book , doesn't over elaborate. , enjoyed from start to finish

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  • andy furkins
  • 22-11-2020

Thought provoking

Well produced and what"s best about this book it looks at the pros and cons of the raid, political pressures on the protagonists. The records of the pilots and of the "unintended" victims are fascinating. A question for Audible ... why don't you provide pdfs of the photos in the hard copy of the book?

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  • peter mcphail
  • 17-11-2020

very informative

really enjoyed this book,gave a great insight into the real story of the Dambusters raid and learn of many things i was unaware of.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 16-11-2020

fantastic 👏

Great researched and engaging listen, Max Hastings is one of the finest Military Writers around

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