Big Week: The Biggest Air Battle of World War II

James Holland (Author)
Available

Description

During the third week of February 1944, the combined Allied air forces based in Britain and Italy launched their first round-the-clock bomber offensive against Germany. Their goal: to smash the main factories and production centers of the Luftwaffe while also drawing German planes into an aerial battle of attrition to neutralize the Luftwaffe as a fighting force prior to the cross-channel invasion, planned for a few months later. Officially called Operation ARGUMENT, this aerial offensive quickly became known as "Big Week," and it was one of the turning-point engagements of World War II.

In Big Week, acclaimed World War II historian James Holland chronicles the massive air battle through the experiences of those who lived and died during it. Prior to Big Week, the air forces on both sides were in crisis. Allied raids into Germany were being decimated, but German resources--fuel and pilots--were strained to the breaking point. Ultimately new Allied aircraft--especially the American long-range P-51 Mustang--and superior tactics won out during Big Week. Through interviews, oral histories, diaries, and official records, Holland follows the fortunes of pilots, crew, and civilians on both sides, taking readers from command headquarters to fighter cockpits to anti-aircraft positions and civilian chaos on the ground, vividly recreating the campaign as it was conceived and unfolded. In the end, the six days of intense air battles largely cleared the skies of enemy aircraft when the invasion took place on June 6, 1944--D-Day.

Big Week is both an original contribution to WWII literature and a brilliant piece of narrative history, recapturing a largely forgotten campaign that was one of the most critically important periods of the entire war.

Product Details

Price
$28.00  $25.76
Publisher
Atlantic Monthly Press
Publish Date
November 06, 2018
Pages
400
Dimensions
6.1 X 1.6 X 9.1 inches | 1.5 pounds
Language
English
Type
Hardcover
EAN/UPC
9780802128393

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About the Author

James Holland is a historian, writer, and broadcaster. The author of The Rise of Germany, 1939-1941 and The Allies Strike Back, 1941-1943, the first two books in The War in the West series, as well as the bestselling Fortress Malta, Battle of Britain, and Dam Busters, he has also written numerous works of historical fiction. Holland regularly appears on television and radio and has written and presented the BAFTA-shortlisted documentaries Battle of Britain and Dam Busters for the BBC, among others. His writing has appeared in magazines and newspapers including the Sunday Telegraph, for whom he went to Helmand Province in Afghanistan, the Times, Daily Mail, and BBC History Magazine. A fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and cofounder and program director of the hugely successful Chalke Valley History Festival, Holland has also advised the British government on history curriculum and has his own collection at the Imperial War Museum.

Reviews

Praise for Big Week

An Amazon Best Book of the Year

"With the aid of diaries, memoirs and his own interviews, Mr. Holland gives a detailed, crewman's-eye view of combat from inside the British, American and German aircraft during the months leading up to Big Week and during the week itself. For those hoping for war-movie stuff, rest assured that the enemy fighters do come in at 6 o'clock, the guns do hammer, the sun does glint and the 'chutes do blossom in the sky. Still it's a serious and important story as well as a dramatic one, and Mr. Holland tells it with verve and authority."--David A. Price, Wall Street Journal

"Holland excels at writing engaging, accessible books, weaving the latest scholarship in with personal accounts gleaned from diaries, archives, and interviews . . . Big Week is a story about people [and] Holland also brings less celebrated figures to the fore . . . [The book's] major accomplishment is to firmly place Big Week and the events surrounding it within the larger historical narrative of the Allied campaign in Western Europe. It was, Holland argues, the turning point of not just the air battle, but of the entire war."--Richard R. Muller, World War II Magazine

"James Holland gives us a definitive, detailed, and highly readable portrait of this sustained air assault which was such an important step on the way to V-E Day . . . This one is well worth the reading time."--American Spectator

"Highly detailed . . . The interplay of personal stories with the broader strategic picture makes this book especially illuminating . . . A fascinating must-read for World War II aficionados."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"This objective work, comprised of narratives often based on personal interviews with the author, provides views from both sides, including firsthand accounts of actions by fighter pilots and bomber crews. A solid popular history on an important event. Recommended for readers interested in World War II's air war, particularly in Europe."--Library Journal

Praise for The Allies Strike Back, 1941-1943: The War in the West, Volume 2

A Military History Book Club Main Selection
An Amazon Best Book of the Month (History)

"As someone who considers himself well-read in World War II history, this reviewer was pleasantly surprised to discover how much he did not know, and, moreover, how much of what he thought he knew was simply not true. The second volume in Holland's trilogy is even better than his first . . . A fascinating story of how the fortunes of war changed in obvious--and particularly not so obvious--ways."--Col. Eric M. Walters, Military Review

"Detailed, well-researched, and comprehensive . . . Holland makes a strong case . . . [He] shifts smoothly between high-level strategy and tactical battlefield events, producing a good refresher to the large strategic picture for those who are deeply read in WWII history and an excellent introduction to the war in Western Europe for the general reader."--Publishers Weekly

"An illuminating read from a skilled historian . . . Holland delivers a detailed, opinionated account of fighting in North Africa, the Atlantic submarine campaign, and the air war while acknowledging (and often describing) the far larger war in Russia . . . Expert, anecdote-filled, thoroughly entertaining."--Kirkus Reviews

"Holland puts the case for Allied technological and military skills as a vital factor in turning the war's tide, and makes us eager for the third and final part of what now ranks as a towering work of historical research and writing."--BBC History Magazine

"A well-researched, lively account."--CHOICE

"Holland's two greatest qualities, his engaging writing style and his ability to weave multiple threads into a convincing whole, are on display once more in this accessible and authoritative history . . . Holland, a successful fiction author as well, keeps his reader gripped with an engrossing tale, which both educates and entertains. In Holland's own words this is 'a truly epic and astonishing story' and the same could be said for his book."--History of War (UK)

"Holland shoots down the myth of German invincibility . . . All the great turning points of 1941-43 are here. A triumph"--Sunday Express (UK)

"Holland brings a fresh eye to the ebb and flow of the conflict . . . [A] majestic saga"--Literary Review (UK)

"This second volume easily reaches the benchmark set by its predecessor . . . The style is crisp, engaging, absorbing, it really does have the feel of a fresh and revisionist perspective on the momentous events that occurred between 1941 and 1943."--Soldier (UK)

Praise for The Rise of Germany, 1939-1941: The War in the West, Volume 1

A Military History Book Club Main Selection

"This is narrative history as intimate, intricate tapestry . . . Mr. Holland's success is built in part on an engaging writing style and in part on a genuinely fresh approach to events that have been so often--and apparently definitively--recounted. This is at heart an operational narrative, but with a difference: Mr. Holland takes the time and space to enhance his recounting of troop and ship movements and clashes of arms with the stuff of wider humanity. He deftly interweaves the experiences of refugees, of civilians, of the warriors' loved ones and of the political elites, while never distracting us with meaningless sentimentality or extraneous personal detail. This is harder to do than it looks. Mr. Holland's achievement is exceptional . . . [An] epic narrative."--Wall Street Journal

"Impeccably researched and superbly written . . . [Holland] skewers a number of myths about the early years of the Second World War . . . Holland's fascinating saga offers a mixture of captivating new research and well-considered revisionism. The next two volumes should be unmissable."--Guardian