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

James Holland (Author)
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The night of 16 May, 1943. Nineteen specially adapted Lancaster bombers take off from RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire, each with a huge 9000lb cylindrical bomb strapped underneath it. Their mission: to destroy three dams deep within the German heartland, which provide the lifeblood to the industries supplying the Third Reich's war machine.

From the outset it was an almost impossible task, a suicide mission: to fly low and at night in formation over many miles of enemy-occupied territory at the very limit of the Lancasters' capacity, and drop a new weapon that had never been tried operationally before from a precise height of just sixty feet from the water at some of the most heavily defended targets in Germany.

More than that, the entire operation had to be put together in less than ten weeks. When visionary aviation engineer Barnes Wallis's concept of the bouncing bomb was green lighted, he hadn't even drawn up his plans for the weapon that was to smash the dams. What followed was an incredible race against time, which, despite numerous setbacks and against huge odds, became one of the most successful and game-changing bombing raids of all time.

Product Details

$28.00  $25.76
Atlantic Monthly Press
Publish Date
November 04, 2013
6.1 X 1.7 X 9.1 inches | 1.7 pounds
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About the Author

James Holland was born in Salisbury, Wiltshire, and studied history at Durham University. A member of the British Commission for Military History and the Guild of Battlefield Guides, he also regularly contributes reviews and articles in newspapers and magazines and appears on radio. His books include Fortress Malta, Italy's Sorrow, The Battle of Britain and his fictional World War II series featuring Sergeant Jack Tanner. He lives near Salisbury with his wife, son and daughter.


"Dam Busters describes the maneuvering that went on behind the scenes before one of Britain's most important efforts to cripple the Nazi war machine. . . . Holland is good at making complex matters clear . . . [and] good at writing action sequences."--Wall Street Journal

"Dramatically details the circumstances of this terrifying, improbably successful military operation. . . . Holland's Dam Busters, thrilling, authoritative and containing astonishing photos, is a military history 'must read.' It is also a shining tribute to those intrepid young airmen."--Tampa Bay Times

"Veteran military historian Holland has composed an impeccably researched work in the style of a fast-paced techno-thriller. . . . Holland offers an authoritative account of a brilliant military operation conceived by a creative civilian; an excellent read for those with an interest in military and aviation history."--Publishers Weekly

"A well-written study of engineering and invention operating under great pressure. . . . For all World War II history buffs."--Library Journal (starred review)

"Extremely detailed but never dull . . . Holland offers a definitive, nuts-and-bolts history."--Kirkus Reviews

"James Holland has achieved a near impossible feat. He has taken a tale we all thought we knew, told us we didn't know much until now and made it come alive." --Charles Glass, author of The Deserters: A Hidden History of World War II and Americans in Paris: Life and Death Under Nazi Occupation

"Painstakingly researched and splendidly told. . . . Holland skillfully interweaves interesting anecdotes and previously unrevealed details. . . . This is the definitive book on the subject, deserving a place in the library of any student of the famous raid."--Aviation History

"The Dambusters Raid was a one-of-a-kind attack, totally unlike anything that had gone before, and it finds a brilliant chronicler in James Holland, whose scholarship and erudition vividly brings that extraordinary event to life seven decades later."--Andrew Roberts, author of The Storm of War, Masters and Commanders, and A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900

"An expertly researched and engaging read, Dam Busters sheds new light on the remarkable story of the men of 617 Squadron who led the raid to destroy Germany's key hydroelectric dams. It also tells the lesser-known tale of the innovative scientists who developed the technology. James Holland vividly brings to life not only the main characters, but the entire incredible era as well."----Patrick K. O'Donnell, bestselling author of Dog Company

"It took a remarkable combination of strategic ideas, skills, actions, and people to win the war for freedom in WWII. James Holland offers a thoroughly researched and highly descriptive narrative of how ingenious engineering and breathtaking courage accomplished an almost impossible task. Recommended for fans of military nonfiction everywhere."--Marcus Brotherton, author of A Company of Heroes and Shifty's War