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The Dam Busters by Paul Brickhill
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The Dam Busters (original 1951; edition 1951)

by Paul Brickhill (Author)

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537835,447 (3.85)26
A special edition of The Dam Busters by Paul Brickhill reissued with a bright retro design to celebrate Pan's 70th anniversary. On 17 May 1943, nearly 350 million tons of water crashed into the valleys of the Ruhr when the Lancaster bombers of 617 Squadron breached the giant Moehne and Eder Dams with colossal 'blockbuster' bombs. The Dam Busters tells the story of the raid and the squadron of fearless airmen who carried it through. Again and again, the crews of 617 Squadron Bomber Command used their flying skills, their tremendous courage and Barnes Wallis' highly accurate bouncing bombs to deal devastating blows to Nazi Germany.One of the most daring true stories to emerge from the Second World War, Paul Brickhill's The Dam Busters inspired the famous 1955 film starring Michael Redgrave and Richard Todd.… (more)
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Title:The Dam Busters
Authors:Paul Brickhill (Author)
Info:Evan's 1951 First edition
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The Dam Busters by Paul Brickhill (1951)

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This is a classic account of the Second World War bombing of the three massive German dams Moehne, Eder and Sorpe, as told by military historian and ex-Great Escapee Paul Brickhill, and originally published in 1951. In fact, it is not so much a history of the dambusting operation (which is less than half the book), as a history of 617 squadron, which was set up specifically for this operation under the command of 24 year old Wing Commander Guy Gibson. The squadron, under others' leadership, was involved in many other key bombing events, including of other dams, canals, cities in occupied Europe, and key installations such as V1 rocket bases and even more deadly installations, created by Nazi slave labour, the successful operation of which would have meant the utter obliteration of London. If the war in the East had continued beyond 1945, the squadron would have been involved in the war over Japan. Many of its operations, not just the Dams raid, used weapons and aircraft designed by the genius engineer Barnes Wallis, whose role in achieving military victory is as great in its own way as that of the RAF and other armed forces - in the author's words "If Wallis’s big bombs had been available earlier (with the aircraft to carry them) the Germans would probably not have lasted as long as they did.". Much is owed to him and to the 133 pilots and crew who took part in the raids, some 53 of whom perished (and only one is still alive today). Brickhill is a good writer and tells the story excitingly, though occasionally there is a little too much technical detail for the average non-specialist reader. ( )
1 vote john257hopper | Nov 1, 2019 |
A rather dry account of 617 Squadron in World War Two, whose exploits should need no introduction. It is told enthusiastically by author Paul Brickhill but, particularly when discussing the missions in the years after the famous Dam Busters raid, it is easy to lose the narrative thread and get lost in the mass of detail. Brickhill seemed acutely aware of this, which is why he focused more on inventor Barnes Wallis than on the procession of squadron commanders, bomber crews and flak-riddled missions over Germany.

Those bombing campaigns are deeply seeded into the book – and the heroism and flying skill is often astonishing – but the book is never as good as when it is with Wallis, poking around in his garden and trying to figure out new ways of planting one on Hitler's nose. It is this sense of underdog ingenuity – not only in Wallis trying to get his eccentric 'bouncing bombs' greenlit by RAF top brass, but in various little inventions like the plywood bombsight knocked up by a carpenter in five minutes (pg. 71) – which really appeals to the British reader's sense of pluck and patriotism. Any bloke who has ever played snooker in a pub can sympathise with Wallis' attempts to control the backspin on his bombs and land them in the right place at the dam wall, and the success of this true story is, as Brickhill writes, something that reassures "those who are dismayed by the fact that the British and their allies are outnumbered in this not too amicable world" (pg. 9). ( )
  MikeFutcher | Sep 12, 2019 |
The Dam Busters was a timely read in 2018, the 75th anniversary year of the historic Dam Busters raid. This book is about more than that raid, though: it is about the development of the bombs that were used in the raid, the work that the lead scientist was doing in the years leading up to the raid, and the adventures of the squadron for the rest of the war.

It is a book filled with colourful characters who go on sorties and perform acts of derring-do. It also contains, unfortunately, a patronizing attitude toward women. The WAAFs mentioned in this book are few and far between, which is perhaps understandable if you're focusing on the people in the planes, but almost every single reference to any woman in the book had them being referred to as "girls", being described by their looks (or as "slim", or "languid", which was just weird), or appearing in the context of them getting in the men's way or making what the men saw as mistakes, but whose actions made perfect sense to the reader because they had the context. ("What she said was perfectly natural given the mental model she had of the situation!" I grumbled at one point. "Stupid men, assuming that the woman could read their minds!")

Apart from that, there were a couple of totally unnecessary similes that fed into stereotypes about women: likening memory to a woman, for example, because it isn't around when you want it...and the one that talked about something being "as reliable as women's intuition" (in this case, not very). This sort of attitude could be seen as unfortunate but natural given the vintage of the author (born 1916), but the throwaway similes could easily have been rewritten in a non-sexist manner (usually cats are painted as capricious, and there are surely other habitually unreliable things that could have been used in the other simile).

The writing about the actual raids and the men of the squadron was perfectly fine, as these things go, but I would only recommend this book more for its immediacy (it was written in 1951 and so more of the major players were alive) than for its writing style. ( )
  rabbitprincess | Sep 28, 2018 |
A remarkable story of the Scientist who created a technological military breakthrough, its evolution into a weapon of mass destruction & the courageous RAF men who risked and sacrificed to deliver it into the heart of Nazi Germany causing a stunning amount of damage to people, buildings, transport and the morale of the enemy.
In the modern era it is unfortunately common for revisionist 'historians' to debunk the overall value & effects of the Dam Busters, however, it is my opinion such people neglect a vital point: At the time of the raid no one knew with any certainty what the result of the attack or the outcome of WW2 would be - it is too easy to now assert the impact was limited - at the time no one could do anything other than admire the ambition and devotion of the airmen and with that in mind this book reveals their immense personal resolve and unchallenged skills which make the Dam Buster Raid one of the most significant events of the WW2 AIR WAR. ( )
  tommi180744 | Apr 27, 2017 |
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» Add other authors (27 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Brickhill, Paulprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Clostermann, PierreForewordsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Allion, Raquel LeisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
D'Achille, GinoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stopes-Roe, MaryIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sweeney, RichardCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tedder, ArthurIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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A special edition of The Dam Busters by Paul Brickhill reissued with a bright retro design to celebrate Pan's 70th anniversary. On 17 May 1943, nearly 350 million tons of water crashed into the valleys of the Ruhr when the Lancaster bombers of 617 Squadron breached the giant Moehne and Eder Dams with colossal 'blockbuster' bombs. The Dam Busters tells the story of the raid and the squadron of fearless airmen who carried it through. Again and again, the crews of 617 Squadron Bomber Command used their flying skills, their tremendous courage and Barnes Wallis' highly accurate bouncing bombs to deal devastating blows to Nazi Germany.One of the most daring true stories to emerge from the Second World War, Paul Brickhill's The Dam Busters inspired the famous 1955 film starring Michael Redgrave and Richard Todd.

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