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Summary

The thrilling true account of Hitler's first defeat. One of Britain's most remarkable victories of the Second World War.

In the summer of 1940, the Nazi war machine was at its zenith. France, Denmark, Norway and the Low Countries were all under occupation after a series of lightning military campaigns. Only Britain stood in the way of the complete triumph of Nazi tyranny. But for the first time in the war, Hitler did not prevail. 

The traditional narrative of 1940 holds that Britain was saved from German conquest only by the pluck of RAF Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain. The image of Dad's Army recruits training with broomsticks is a classic symbol of the nation's supposed desperation in the face of the threat from Operation Sealion, as the German plan for invasion was code-named. 

Yet as Leo McKinstry details, the British were far more ruthless and proficient than is usually recognised. The brilliance of the RAF was not an exception but part of a pattern of magnificent organisation. In almost every sphere of action, such as the destruction of the French naval fleet or the capture of German spies, Britain's approach reflected an uncompromising spirit of purpose and resolution. Using a wealth of primary materials from both British and German archives, Leo McKinstry provides a groundbreaking new assessment of the six fateful months in mid-1940, beginning with Winston Churchill's accession to power in May and culminating in Germany's abandonment of Operation Sealion.

©2014 Leo McKinstry (P)2014 Hodder & Stoughton Limited

Critic reviews

 "Superbly written and gripping." (Daily Express)

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

Absolutely brilliant

A great insight to the fear and paranoia of the times

Quite eliminating that Develara was quite the evil wotsit towards the English as I thought

A great listen

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Superbly written and narrated

This book is superbly written and leaves few if any stones unturned. If the Nazis had been a little better equipped and acted sooner the outcome of the war may well have been so different. The will was certainly there, it was the practicalities that got in the way. Nazi preparations for life after an invasion were chilling. I hadn't realised quite how well Britain was prepared to resist invasion, and thankfully this preparedness and resolve paid off but couldn't be taken for granted. Great book, very well researched and I found it an easy listen despite the 17 hours. Be prepared to hear much around the subject but it all feeds back to give an excellent and relevant account of events. Enjoyed listening to it as much as Spitfire. Highly recommended.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Stimulating views on much written about subject.

The non invasion of the UK in 1940 is common knowledge and frequently referenced in other works on WW2 , this book goes into refreshingly new detail which supports the position that the UK was no pushover for the Nazis. I liked the limited references to the Battle of Britain as I did not want to go over that heroic performance by the RAF again. The progression of the defence of these islands from May 1940 to the Autum of that year moves along at a good pace with the author building on his key threads as he goes along. My only critique is that the ending was not a summary or conclusion of the overall outcome so I was left hanging on a rather emotional point of the beauty of the Cornish coast. Well read with respectful use of quotes from the principle players.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • JoBo
  • Sussex UK
  • 09-09-18

Absolutely Absorbing

I have long been been interested in this era, 1940, Churchill and the Battle of Britain especially. I thought my general knowledge of the period was pretty good. I have learnt so much more from this book. Each chapter looks in depth at a different aspect of the operation. Amazingly interesting and totally absorbing. The research that has been carried is incredible. All told in a gripping and interesting way. By far the best Audible war account I have had the pleasure of listening too.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Riveting

Narrated with clarity and feeling, this book addresses the massive challenges facing Britain during 1940 with meticulously researched detail. But it is not a dry resuscitation of facts because the author has found sources at all levels in British society to describe their experiences during a year when the British pulled together in a monumental backs to the wall struggle for national survival. That is no exaggeration because had Operation Sealion succeeded all British males between the ages of 17 and 45 would have been deported as slaves, thus ensuring that population reproduction came to a complete stop. I, for one, would not be alive today.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Not actually about Sealion...

This is a good listen, but the book focusses more on Britains defence and preparations than German planning for Sealion.