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Lancaster

The Making of a Very British Legend
Narrated by: Andrew Wincott
Length: 16 hrs and 12 mins
Categories: History, Military
4.7 out of 5 stars (47 ratings)

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Summary

From John Nichol, the Sunday Times best-selling author of Spitfire, comes a passionate and profoundly moving tribute to the Lancaster bomber, its heroic crews and the men and women who kept her airborne during the country's greatest hour of need.

The Avro Lancaster is an aviation icon; revered, romanticised, loved. Without her, and the bravery of those who flew her, the freedom we enjoy today would not exist.

Sir Arthur Harris, the controversial Chief of Royal Air Force Bomber Command, described the Lancaster as his 'shining sword' and the 'greatest single factor in winning the war'. RAF bomber squadrons carried out offensive operations from the first day of the Second World War until the very last, more than five and a half years later. They flew nearly 300,000 sorties and dropped around a million tons of explosives, as well as life-saving supplies. More than 10,000 of their aircraft never returned. Of the 7,377 Lancasters built during the conflict, more than half were lost to enemy action or training accidents.

The human cost was staggering. Of the 125,000 men who served in Bomber Command, more than 55,000 were killed and another 8,400 were wounded. Some 10,000 survived being shot down only to become prisoners of war. In simple, brutal terms, Harris' aircrew had only a 40 per cent chance of surviving the war unscathed.

Former RAF Tornado Navigator, Gulf War veteran and best-selling author John Nichol now tells the inspiring and moving story of this legendary aircraft that took the fight deep into the heart of Nazi Germany.

©2020 John Nichol (P)2020 Simon & Schuster Audio

Critic reviews

"The epic story of an iconic aircraft and the breathtaking courage of those who flew her." (Andy McNab, best-selling author of Bravo Two Zero)

"Compelling, thrilling and rooted in quite extraordinary human drama." (James Holland, author of Normandy 44)

What listeners say about Lancaster

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Not enough about the actual aircraft

I was expecting more about the design, development and technical aspects of the Lancaster. This ubiquitous habit of narrators reading anecdotes (and selected proper nouns) in the accent they believe appropriate becomes more irritating with every chapter. Why apply accents to audio books, we don't apply them when we read?

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Beautifully written, terrible narration

A lovely book with some wonderful stories and detail. So very sad that the narration very nearly stopped me listening. There was absolutely no need to use accents and voice tones. Basically spoilt a good book.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A moving tribute to the aircraft and the crews

I bought this after listening to the book on the Spitfire. To be honest I enjoyed the start but then found myself struggling to get through some of the chapters and the harrowing losses the crews suffered. I then kicked myself, as I'm only listening I didn't and never will have to experience the pressures, fear, loss and the random chance of death that some many experienced. But I think I can understand why so many went despite the risks and I can only hope I would have the courage. I finished this book whilst working in our temporary office, that we set up in a garage for COVID, I had tears in my eyes and a determination never to forget the history of this aircraft and the people who served in them.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

An amazing collection of memories from the few.

The Lancaster Bomber crews own recollection of life in the skies during WW2 will have you on the edge of your seat. We owe it to these brave young men to hear their stories. The book is superbly written, narrated and shows deep respect for everyone involved.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Overacted!

John Nichol has clearly done a lot of research and the stories are compelling. I found listening to it rather difficult because Andrew Wincott (Adam from The Archers) was just trying too hard. Not all actors are good readers. Nevertheless a nuanced insight into the reality of life for bomber crews in WW2 and, to a lesser degree, the lives and deaths of their victims.

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Excellent

Many RAF bomber crew have been reticent about recounting their experiences. Lots just wanted to get on with their lives after they had made it through alive. The attrition rate of bomber crew was shocking, as much as 30% on some raids. So many of the survivors found that compartmentalising that part of their lives was the only way to move on, as the weight of the loss of friends and comrades was too much. John Nichol was also a RAF navigator who was shot down over Iraq and tortured by his captors. What is clear right away from Nichol's book is that WW2 survivors are far more prepared to candid and honest with a man who has 'been there too' than another author. The stories of the men who fought and the women who loved and supported them sometimes brought tears to my eyes. Nichol should be congratulated for also included the previously overlooked contribution of black RAF flight crew in his book. Their contribution has of the 500 West Indian flight crew had been 'whitewashed' out of history and popular culture. I found the story of Guyanese RAF navigator Cy Grant particularly interesting. Shot down on his third mission Grant after evading capture finally ended up in the POW camps where the wooden horse and the Great Escape took place. Thoroughly recommended!

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One of the best

With its true stories from Surviving Bomber Crew. Understanding is easy what war for them was actualy like. Lest we Forget.

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Fantastic story let down by narration.

A fantastic story told in the words of those who flew in Lancasters during WWII. The storys take you through WWII and are well likned togeather by the author. When the narrator is using his normal voice it is a compelling listen. The problem (for me) comes when the narrative switches from the author to the airmen, and the strangled accents and voices put on by the narrator. It takes me out of the story and is so bad I am unable finish this audio book. I will however finish the book reading the hard back.

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A perfect tribute

I think this book is nothing but a perfect tribute to the brave men of Bomber Command. Beautifully written using interviews with a number of Veteran’s John Nichol weaves their experiences into the full story of the Lanc. I challenge anyone to get through the last couple of chapters without shedding a tear.

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Brilliant

Very well written and at times very moving. Having read many books on the Lancaster, I felt this one stood out in most beautifully capturing the human side of the Lancaster story. What these brave men (and their families) went through was remarkable. The book is further enhanced by fabulous and very skilful narration. Thanks to John Nichol and Andrew Wincott for a perfect audiobook.