The best books about the Battle of Britain (from someone with a lifelong fascination for it)

Who am I?

It all started in the cinema of a seaside town in 1970 when, as a young boy, I sat open-mouthed in front of a sparkling Technicolour movie. Before my eyes, the very foundations of British life were defended from tyranny by dashing pilots riding in sleek, powerful fighter planes. The film, The Battle of Britain, instilled a life-long fascination with the events of 1940. Years later I discovered one of The Few had grown up in my hometown and was buried in our local graveyard. I started to research the life and times of this man and his story became the foundations of my first novel, Bluebirds.

I wrote...


By Melvyn Fickling,

Book cover of Bluebirds

What is my book about?

My Battle of Britain novel is based on the true stories of an East Anglian RAF airman and an American volunteer, arguably the first from his nation to fire guns in anger against the Nazis.

The Battle of Britain defined the future for Britain, Europe, and America. Bluebirds tells the story of the ordinary young men who are thrown together into deadly jeopardy as Hitler plunges Europe into its darkest ever hours. Andrew Francis and Gerry Donaldson were born on different sides of the Atlantic just before The Great War. Together with the mildly psychotic Bryan Hale, they fly Spitfires through the summer of 1940 when invasion is imminent and Britain faces almost certain defeat. This is the first book of the Bluebird Series.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Tally-Ho! A Yankee in a Spitfire

Why did I love this book?

Art Donahue is the inspiration for my character, Gerry Donaldson, in my book, and Tally-Ho! is the book he wrote about his life while the Battle of Britain was still raging around him. Art was one of many Americans who volunteered at the risk of losing US citizenship, but as a fully qualified flying instructor he jumped the queue and very quickly found himself in a Spitfire cockpit flying into hostile skies with 64 Squadron. Donahue went on to fight in other theatres and write further on his experiences. Sadly, he did not survive the war, but this unique and vibrant document serves as a memorial and a celebration of a true American pioneer.

By Arthur Donahue,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tally-Ho! A Yankee in a Spitfire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Arthur "Art" Donahue was an American who volunteered to join the Royal Air Force in the early days of the Second World War. Flying a Spitfire in the Battle of Britain, he became the first American fighter pilot to fly in action in the Second World War, as well as the first American pilot to be shot down in combat during that war.

Tally Ho! Yankee in a Spitfire is Art Donahue's vivid memoir of his time as a Spitfire pilot during the Battle of Britain and the blitz. It reveals a man who was both brave and reflective. The…

Book cover of Eagle Day: The Battle of Britain

Why did I love this book?

It might be a venerable classic, but it’s still in print for a very good reason. Collier focusses on the six weeks of 1940’s English summer when Great Britain was in extreme peril of defeat and subjugation. He relates the history of this pivotal moment using a rich tapestry of personal accounts and eye-witness testimonies of the real people who were involved in this epic struggle. We hear the voices of pilots fighting for their lives in the air, their crews grafting on the ground to keep the aircraft serviceable and the civilians who daily watched the frenetic dogfights that swirled through the sky above their towns and villages, duels to the death upon which the very fate of the nation depended.

By Richard Collier,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Eagle Day as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the gripping story of the Battle of Britain; of some of the most fateful weeks in history.

Drawing on eyewitness accounts from both the RAF and the Luftwaffe, this is a compelling story of history in the making through an intensely fought battle, taking the reader into the heart of the action as told by those who fought and experienced it.

The book not only captures the often savage reality of the air battles over the Channel and southern England, but it also traces the true course of the Battle of Britain as it unfolded between August 6th…

Book cover of The Battle of Britain: Five Months That Changed History; May-October 1940

Why did I love this book?

Historian James Holland is also a novelist, and it is that parallel writing talent that makes his history books as compelling to read as a thriller novel. In this history of the Battle of Britain he casts his net back to events in France, marking the beginning of the battle proper as early May 1940, two months before the officially recorded date. This presents the battle as a continuation of the wider events that caused it to be necessary. He widens his narrative beyond the desperate struggles of the fighter pilots to include the experiences of bomber command, the navy, the back-room boffins, and the politicians. The result is a highly readable and deeply satisfying account of one of history’s most important pivotal events.

By James Holland,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Battle of Britain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A groundbreaking new account of the Battle of Britain from acclaimed Cambridge historian James Holland

The Battle of Britain paints a stirring picture of an extraordinary summer when the fate of the world hung by a thread. Historian James Holland has now written the definitive account of those months based on extensive new research from around the world including thousands of new interviews with people on both sides of the battle. If Britain's defenses collapsed, Hitler would have dominated all of Europe. With France facing defeat and British forces pressed back to the Channel, there were few who believed Britain…


By John Nichol,

Book cover of Spitfire

Why did I love this book?

The book is well named. The Spitfire invokes a visceral response in most people, amplified in those that feel even the slightest cultural connection to the events that unfolded in the Kentish skies in 1940. Nichol centres his book on this emotional premise, conveying the feelings of the pilots who flew the Spitfire, including the ladies of the Air Transport Auxiliary, and the crews that maintained them. We learn about the development of this most beautiful of all warbirds and follow it into all the world’s theatres of war, a story expressed through the first-hand accounts of many veterans who flew and fought behind the roar of the Merlin. This is as close as most of us will come to being inside the cockpit of a Spitfire.

By John Nichol,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Spitfire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


'The best book you will ever read about Britain's greatest warplane' Patrick Bishop, bestselling author of Fighter Boys
'A rich and heartfelt tribute to this most iconic British machine' Rowland White, bestselling author of Vulcan 607
'As the RAF marks its centenary, Nichol has created a thrilling and often moving tribute to some of its greatest heroes' Mail on Sunday magazine

The iconic Spitfire found fame during the darkest early days of World War II. But what happened to the redoubtable fighter and its crews beyond the…

Piece of Cake

By Derek Robinson,

Book cover of Piece of Cake

Why did I love this book?

Robinson’s evergreen work of fiction shines forever bright thanks to his gritty characterisation of the realities of life in a fighter squadron in France, and later in post-Dunkirk Britain, in 1940. You’ll not find any of the usual stereotypes in Hornet Squadron, yet the characters are quickly made real in the reader’s mind, familiar and grotesque in equal measure as they struggle to overcome the inertia of RAF combat doctrine, the frictions of class prejudice, the joys of impossible love and the clash of incompatible personalities, all while fighting for their lives in the cockpits of their near-obsolete Hurricane fighters against horrifying odds.

By Derek Robinson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Piece of Cake as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the Phoney War of 1939 to the Battle of Britain in 1940, the pilots of Hornet Squadron learn their lessons the hard way. Hi-jinks are all very well on the ground, but once in a Hurricane's cockpit, the best killers keep their wits close. Newly promoted Commanding Officer Fanny Barton has a job on to whip the Hornets into shape before they face the Luftwaffe's seasoned pilots. And sometimes Fighter Command, with its obsolete tactics and stiff doctrines, is the real menace. As with all Robinson's novels, the raw dialogue, rich black humour and brilliantly rendered, adrenalin-packed dogfights bring…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the Battle of Britain, World War 2, and the British Royal Air Force?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the Battle of Britain, World War 2, and the British Royal Air Force.

The Battle Of Britain Explore 16 books about the Battle of Britain
World War 2 Explore 1,524 books about World War 2
The British Royal Air Force Explore 27 books about the British Royal Air Force

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