Britain at War 1939-1945 in Ace Reviews

Second edition

Second edition

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Book Review: Britain at War 1939-1945 by James Lingard

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– Four Stars

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I just finished reading Britain at War 1939-1945 by James Lingard.  Britain at War is a chronological story of the major events that occurred during World War II, interspersed with the author’s, and other personal eye witness accounts of those events, affecting Britain — during those years.

The text introduces the reader to the state and effectiveness of the British RAF, German Luftwaffe, British Navy, German U-Boats, E-Boats, and ground offensives.  Interesting reading includes informative facts of the high number of civilian casualties resulting from German bombings in London as well as the major campaigns against the Germans at major fronts in North Africa, India, Italy, Poland and France.

Personal stories are included in the text describing Lingard’s experience as a young boy in Britain, one of which was learning that the shelter his family lived in had been destroyed by German bombs while they were luckily away at the time.  Another interesting personal story includes relocating to the South Britain coast with his family for safety that was believed to be less interest to German bombers that ended up being surprisingly bombed by a few of the German Luftwaffe forcing their departure from the location.

Other interesting reading describes the V1 and V2 bombs the Germans developed towards the end of the war used on Britain while at the same time the Americans had developed their atom bomb that would eventually be dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end the war against Japan.  The text also gives interesting facts surrounding the build-up of 1.5 million American soldiers in Britain prior to the famous D-Day invasion, the 150,000 man offensive, 10,000 man casualty, the Allies put forth on D-Day to famously successfully storm the beaches of Normandy.


Much is written about World War II.  A lot of what is written are lengthy texts containing mostly facts and dates surrounding the war.  What I like about Britain at War is the text is not too exhaustive but gives a chronological, succinct account of the major events of the war.  Strategies of both the Axis and Allies are given brief attention and how they succeeded or failed, which I liked.  The book I find to be a good overview of what transpired in a shorter text form while covering the major events.

Another strength of the book compared to other wartime books published is the personal accounts of the author while living through the war described.  These add a unique human element to the book that gives the reader a sense of realness to the war and how it affected real every-day people, in particular this family in Britain living through the German air bombings.

Finally, the facts that were conveyed in the book I felt were not too over done to overwhelm and bore the reader.  I liked that attention was given to the number of soldiers involved in various campaigns on both the Allies and Axis, casualties suffered, and interesting facts about the British RAF Spitfires and Hurricanes, German Luftwaffe, naval destroyers, U-boats, E-boats, etc., as well as explanation of military strategy from both the Axis and Allies perspective described.


The book was well-edited.  I didn’t encounter grammatical or spelling errors.  The book was put together well, one chapter building on the other chronologically from 1939-1945 as the title conveys, so I cannot say that editing was a weakness.

What I would have liked maybe from the book is more personal stories.  I think the commonly known war campaigns and facts may have outdone the personal stories as far as balance in the book goes.

Significant personal stories worth mentioning may have been limited to the author but maybe more other primary accounts heard from neighbours, friends or relatives and how their lives were affected as well during the time would give the book the additional human touch.  Much attention is given to the actual war itself throughout the world than simply what was actually going on day-to-day in Britain.


Britain at War is a terrific book covering the chronological major events of World War II from a Brit’s perspective.  The book contains coverage of wartime facts, military strategy from Axis and Allies, a quote per chapter from Churchill, Britain’s leader during the war, descriptions and effectiveness of various military weapons used during the war, as well as personal stories from the author himself having lived through the bombings in England by the German Luftwaffe and, gladly, avoiding a ground invasion from Germany of Britain all together.

The book flows well in its chronological account of the major events of the war.  The personal stories keep the book personable and the facts conveyed about the major events of the war were not overdone to bore the reader and make a stale book.  It’s also a concisely written book that leaves the reader with a good survey of the major events of the years 1939-1945 worldwide as well as in Britain itself.  I give Britain at War 1939-1945, 4 stars.


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