Dam Busters: Book summary and reviews of Dam Busters by James Holland

Dam Busters

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

By James Holland

Dam Busters
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  • Published in USA  Nov 2013,
    464 pages.

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Book Summary

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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"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

"Few historians deny that the destruction of the dams gave an immense boost to British morale and inflicted costly damage to the Nazis, and Holland offers a definitive, nuts-and-bolts history." - Kirkus

"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

"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

"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: The Boys of Pointe du Hoc - the Rangers Who Accomplished D-Day's Toughest Mission and Led the Way across Europe

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

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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.

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