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The Few by Alex Kershaw

The Few (2006)

by Alex Kershaw

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Like The Longest Winter, a incredibly detailed yet highly readable story of the Americans who fought (violating the Neutrality Laws) in the Battle of Britain. The details of actual dogfights I found confusing but the times really came alive for me. The only hard part was the not suprising part, so few of the few survived. Given the mortatlity in the RAF, it 's not suprising but it was hard to hear about the end of all but one of them. Still, Kershaw seems to have a knack for making the history come alive, I should check out a few more of his books.
  amyem58 | Jul 15, 2014 |
Excellent book, writing flows and reads like a novel. Kershaw does an excellent job of telling the struggle of not only the British but the Americans who volunteered to fly and fight with them. ( )
  Luftwaffe_Flak | Feb 6, 2014 |
In 1940, as World War II raged in Europe, Americans were still on the sidelines. In fact the Neutrality Act made it a crime to fight for any of the countries involved. Eight American men decided to defy the law, risking losing their citizenship by enlisting in England’s Royal Air Force. Their motives were different, but these men loved to fly. They were hard to control, those brash Americans who had nothing to lose except their lives. The Few is their story.

The Nazis at that time were in an all-out effort to capture and occupy England, just as they already had France. Each day for several months in summer and fall of 1940, they sent out their Messerschmitt fighters and Junker bombers across the English Channel. They were met by the Royal Air Force. It was dubbed the Battle of Britain – and the RAF and its Spitfires won it for England. The title comes from what Winston Churchill said about the Battle of Britain, “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”

I hadn’t known that Americans fought with England before our country was officially engaged. Alex Kershaw tells the story simply, concentrating more or less on the eight individuals and their pre-war lives, reasons for joining up, and what went on while they served. The writing is especially vivid when he has a flyer’s journal to rely on. He also uses his reportorial skills to talk to the men’s families and recreate many of the battles they flew in – and in which some of them lost their lives. The Few is well documented and an engaging read. It is indexed and back-noted with a “cast of characters,” and info on the aircraft of England and Germany. ( )
  NewsieQ | Aug 5, 2011 |
Of the seven Americans who fought in the Battle of Brittain only one survived the war. They had to give up American citizenship to join the RAF. Most of them had to struggle just to get to England. It tells not only their stories but part of the stories of their English compatriots an that of their German enemy.

It is a fairly quick read with a nice bibliography, good photographs and airplane illustrations. They were men to be proud of and to cherish as countrymen. They stood beside the best and fought their country's battle before their country knew it had a battle. I recommend this book. ( )
  xenchu | Apr 24, 2010 |
This was a great story about the Battle of Britain, but with a narrow lens. It bounces around a bit, which gets a little confusing, but is not difficult to follow. The story is really fascinating. A unique story of bravery and sacrifice and a lot of work went into it. I suspect it pales in comparison to the overall sacrifice to the RAF and the British people, though. Worth a read. ( )
  damcg63 | Jun 5, 2009 |
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Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

John Gillespie Magee, Jr.
Nineteen-year-old American pilot, killed December 11, 1941
For Felix
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Winston Churchill sat in the back of a black Daimler, dressed in a dark pinstripe suit, late on the afternoon of May 10, 1940.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0306813033, Hardcover)

By the summer of 1940 World War II had been under way for nearly a year. Hitler was triumphant and planning an invasion of England. But the United States was still a neutral country and, as Winston Churchill later observed, "the British people held the fort alone." A few Americans, however, did not remain neutral. They joined Britain's Royal Air Force to fight Hitler's air aces and help save Britain in its darkest hour. The Few is the never-before-told story of these thrill-seeking Americans who defied their country's neutrality laws to fly side-by-side with England's finest pilots. They flew the lethal and elegant Spitfire, and became "knights of the air." With minimal training and plenty of guts they dueled the skilled pilots of Germany's Luftwaffe in the blue skies over England. They shot down several of Germany's fearsome aces, and were feted as national heroes in Britain. By October 1940, they had helped England win the greatest air battle in the history of aviation. At war's end, just one of the "Few" would be alive. The others died flying, wearing the RAF's dark blue uniform-each with a shoulder patch depicting an American eagle. As Winston Churchill said, "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:18:00 -0400)

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Tells the story of the few Americans who decided that they could not remain neutral during World War Two and joined Britain's Royal Air Force to defend the country from Hitler.

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