Summary

It was the night of May 16th, 1943. Nineteen specially adapted Lancaster bombers take off from RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire, each with a huge nine thousand pound cylindrical bomb strapped underneath them. 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, which had never been tried operationally before, at a precise height of just 60 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 10 weeks.
When visionary aviation engineer Barnes Wallis' 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 set-backs and against huge odds, became one of the most successful and game-changing bombing raids of all time.
©2012 James Holland (P)2012 Random House AudioGo
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By CMR on 27-08-12

Riveting stuff - just superb

I had the extreme pleasure of hearing James Holland's talk about this book at the Borders Book Festival earlier in 2012. If knowledge, passion and enthusiasm was a sport, James would be on the top step of the podium. A fascinating yet brief introduction into a truly heroic effort to smash the dams.

This audio book was the next obvious step and I'm delighted to say it carries the same passion as the brief hour at the Book Festival.

A fascinating story of magnificent triumph over overwhelming adversity that changed the face of WWII. I had an inkling that these men were made of something 'a bit special', but I had no idea just how much the odds were stacked against this mission.

James Holland brings the fascinating story to life in this book. So much so, on more than one occasion, I found myself sitting in the car park at work transfixed when I really should have been in the office getting on with some work!!

Just brilliant.

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7 of 7 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Mr Lee Rudd on 17-06-15

Comprehensive and Entralling

A comprehensive telling of the development of the bouncing bombs, the dam raid and its effects, and the consequent history of 617 squadron.
Some points of interest.

The speed by which something so complex as the Dams raid was pulled off in the midst of total war. Less than two months from green light to mission.
That Barnes Wallis was not alone in being a proponent of such a weapon. Indeed, the admiralty were champions of the weapons throughout most of the development.
The focus on the strategic impact of the raid on German war production. Yes the dams were rebuilt quickly, but that was tests,net to the importance of the dams to German war production. During the period the dams were out of action, the Battle of Kursk ended in. German defeat, partly because of lack of tank and gun production at a critical stage of preparation.
The subsequent wartime history of 617 squadron is mentioned, but almost in passing. This doesn't do justice to the complex use of this squadron in the Tallboy and Grand Slam missions against key targets.

Ultimately, it's the dams mission that continues to capture the imagination, even today, over 70 years after the raid.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
2 out of 5 stars
By lynn on 07-08-13

Great Story Poor Narration

I have a wide interest in the history of the Second World War and was looking forward to listening to a modern and updated insight into the developments that lead to the development of the "bouncing bomb". The author has done a great job researching this history and the long road Barnes Wallis had to get his ideas excepted. Hoever I think he should have found someone else to do the narration maybe it's me but I found his narration incredibly irritating. It is all very well to be passionate but he reminded me of a true enthusiast who doesn't so much talk to you but lectures and hectors you with such passion that he turns you off the topic. I felt like I was listen a really forceful but fundamentally tiresome lecture. So obviously my taste, great subject but another narrator with some distance from the topic would have been much better.

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5 out of 5 stars
By mr kieran j murphy on 08-06-12

A different take on a well known story

After seeing the movie a number of times I thought I knew the story of the dam busters. But James Holland's story brought to life both the story behind those that flew the missions (including people who were integral but not part of the movie) but also the story behind the making of the bombs and the people who made it possible.

The story is both very entertaining and educational.

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