Booklist Reviews

A sensational air raid of WWII was a British attack on German dams. Ever since, it has inspired histories, the still-popular movie The Dam Busters, and a yet-to-be released remake by Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson. Holland's title comprehensively spans the story, from the genesis of the idea to the postraid fates of the participants. The brainchild of a British engineer, the intention was to hamper German war production by skipping mines across reservoirs into hydroelectric dams. It may sound simple but was not because the plan involved releasing the weapons from low-flying Lancaster airplanes at night. The technical intricacies command much of Holland's attention. He explains the mechanical experiments conducted by Barnes Wallis, the engineer, and the training of the raiding squadron, led by Guy Gibson. After detailing how the raid was approved within the RAF, Holland releases the main act, a white-knuckle, minute-by-minute account of the raid. Opinions vary about the attack's effectiveness but not about the air crews' courageous heroism, Holland's evocation of which WWII readers will appreciate. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

Library Journal Reviews

The daring night raid of May 16, 1943 (Operation Chastise), by RAF Squadron 617 breached two large hydroelectric dams and damaged another in Germany's industrial heart. When Paul Brickhill wrote his well-known The Dam Busters (1951), much information about this mission was still classified. Holland relies upon the archival details made available since. He describes British engineer Barnes Wallis's ingenious "bouncing bomb" design for the mission, the opposing views on its use, and the extreme dangers of the mission, flying at night only 60 feet above its targets. Holland also provides much detail on the differing personalities who argued over the mission, potentially hindering the operation. By contrast to some historical opinions that the raid was an interesting failure, he argues that it was a success, given the destruction with the loss of relatively few planes, while forcing minister of armaments and war production Albert Speer to divert work from other Nazi initiatives to repair the vital dams and factories. VERDICT This is a well-written study of engineering and invention operating under great pressure and the actions and sacrifices on both sides. For all World War II history buffs.—Daniel Blewett (DB), Coll. of DuPage Lib., Glen Ellyn, IL

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Library Journal Reviews

The daring night raid of May 16, 1943 (Operation Chastise), by RAF Squadron 617 breached two large hydroelectric dams and damaged another in Germany's industrial heart. When Paul Brickhill wrote his well-known The Dam Busters (1951), much information about this mission was still classified. Holland relies upon the archival details made available since. He describes British engineer Barnes Wallis's ingenious "bouncing bomb" design for the mission, the opposing views on its use, and the extreme dangers of the mission, flying at night only 60 feet above its targets. Holland also provides much detail on the differing personalities who argued over the mission, potentially hindering the operation. By contrast to some historical opinions that the raid was an interesting failure, he argues that it was a success, given the destruction with the loss of relatively few planes, while forcing minister of armaments and war production Albert Speer to divert work from other Nazi initiatives to repair the vital dams and factories. VERDICT This is a well-written study of engineering and invention operating under great pres-sure and the actions and sacrifices on both sides. For all World War II history buffs.—Daniel Blewett (DB), Coll. of DuPage Lib., Glen Ellyn, IL (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Decisive military missions are sometimes the brainchilds of scientists and engineers instead of generals. The destruction of Germany's hydroelectric dams by the Royal Air Force in 1943 was one such decisive mission. Veteran military historian Holland (The Battle of Britain) has composed an impeccably researched work in the style of a fast-paced techno-thriller. Part one centers on the campaign of British aircraft designer Barnes Wallis to bring to the attention of military planners his ideas regarding bombing of German dams, despite the furious opposition of Air Marshal Arthur Harris, leader of Britain's Bomber Command. When the plan was finally approved, the various players had only eight weeks to produce the necessary new equipment, train, and execute the mission. This process is the subject of part two of Holland's book. The third part follows the 19 RAF bombers on their dangerous low-altitude night mission against the dams—a mission many didn't not survive. 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. (Nov.)

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