May 09, 2010

MOST DANGEROUS ENEMY BY STEPHEN BUNGAY

Upplagd av Minondas

Most Dangerous Enemy Battle of Britain is probably the most covered topic in military aviation literature and there must be literally hundreds of titles covering the topic in English language alone. Throughout the years I have managed to read quite a few of them and I can say that 'The Most Dangerous Enemy' is without a doubt the best of them. First of all, author manages to stay focused and balanced both in his narrative and analysis of events. Both antagonists get same amount of coverage, while critique and prize are dealt out where appropriate, regardless of the side. Furthermore, the book is perfectly balanced in another respect - personal experiences, technological aspects of the conflict and overview of large scale events are dealt with in separate chapters with focus on single well-defined topic. It may sound strange based solely on my description, but this writing technique seems perfectly suited for coverage of Battle of Britain. It allows the reader to keep solid track of the events as they unfolded, understand the high level decisions and at the same time never lets him forget the personal costs and sacrifices required by both sides.

For those that are familiar with this clash between Luftwaffe and RAF some seventy years ago, I'd recommend this book for a different reason - conclusions of Stephen Bungay regarding the Battle, its outcome and consequences may be controversial and challenge traditional opinions, but I dare to say that they deserve some afterthought.
If there is any criticism that this book deserves then it's the fact that, if one is to draw conclusions from the references, the author relied predominantly on English sources. Also, I found it a bit annoying that Stephen Bungay seems to have problems with deciding in how to present foreign pilots in RAF service and their role in the Battle of Britain.

From wargamer's perspective this book is to be considered mainly as a great historical background source for those of us who enjoy aerial wargames. 'The Most Dangerous Enemy' does not contain much information for creation for new scenarios, it is however excellent source for understanding of proper tactics and why they were employed. It is also worth reading for the reason that I suspect I hardly have to point out - learning about real events that our games are based on is after all, or at least should be, part of this hobby.

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