10 books like The Most Dangerous Enemy

By Stephen Bungay,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The Most Dangerous Enemy. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Fighter Boys

By Patrick Bishop,

Book cover of Fighter Boys: The Battle of Britain, 1940

With great skill and sensitivity, Bishop depicts the human drama of the Battle of Britain. Bishop allows the pilots to speak for themselves, collecting their thoughts from letters, diaries, speeches, and memoirs, and presenting these within a chronological framework reinforced with historical context provided by the author. The result is a wonderfully readable and moving book that embraces not just the Battle of Britain itself but also explains the society in which the heroes of the Battle were born, the institution (RAF) in which they served, and the world in which they died. It ends with a chapter telling what happened to the survivors after the war. Altogether a beautiful tribute to the “Few.”

Fighter Boys

By Patrick Bishop,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For 123 days in the summer of 1940, 3,000 youthful airmen in the Royal Air Force fought back against Hitler's advancing forces with a heroism that astonished the world. Drawing on interviews with scores of surviving pilots as well as diaries and letters never before seen, military historian and journalist Patrick Bishop re-creates with astonishing intimacy and clarity this excruciating, exhilarating war of nerves. In their own words, the pilots describe what it was like to bale out from a stricken plane, to go into battle in the face of overwhelming odds, to hear the screams of a comrade as…


The Few

By Philip Kaplan, Richard Collier,

Book cover of The Few: Summer 1940, The Battle of Britain

Because pictures are worth a thousand words, I had to include this “coffee-table” book about the Battle of Britain among the “best five” books. This book is 200 pages of evocative images — of aircraft, of pilots, WAAF, controllers, and commanders, of landscapes, airfields, and equipment. The words of Bungay and especially Bishop are transformed into something more tangible and understandable by this lovely collection of contemporary photographs.

The Few

By Philip Kaplan, Richard Collier,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Fifty years ago, in the blue skies of a late English summer, history's first major air battle was fought. In a journey to the airfields and other key locations, this book looks back on the Battle of Britain.


Nine Lives (Witness to War)

By Alan C. Deere,

Book cover of Nine Lives (Witness to War)

Nine Lives is an autobiography by one of the RAF aces of the Battle of Britain and, as such, is one of a handful of authentic accounts about the Battle told by a participant. (I actually recommend all these first-hand accounts, but since I’m limited to five titles altogether, I confine myself to two.) Deere’s account stands out for its brutal honesty and his willingness to analyze his behavior and reactions to events. It is not a literary masterpiece, but its sincerity is all the greater. Deere was a New Zealander and therefore this book highlights the often-forgotten contribution of Britain’s Commonwealth to the Battle of Britain.

Nine Lives (Witness to War)

By Alan C. Deere,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Nine Lives (Witness to War) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the autobiography of Alan Deere, New Zealand’s most famous RAF pilot who saw action from the Munich Crisis to the invasion of France in 1944.

Al Deere experienced the drama of the early days of the Battle of Britain while serving with Spitfire squadrons based at Hornchurch and Manston, and his compelling story tells of the successes and frustrations of those critical weeks.

Deere’s nine lives are the accounts of his fantastic luck in escaping from seemingly impossible situations. During the Battle of Britain he parachuted from stricken aircraft on three occasions and once was blown up by…


First Light

By Geoffrey Wellum,

Book cover of First Light: The True Story of the Boy Who Became a Man in the War-Torn Skies above Britain

First Light is also a memoir by a Battle of Britain veteran, but Wellum was not an ace. Wellum was a very young and very junior pilot during the Battle, and this book, written with the wisdom of hindsight by a mature Wellum, is more reflective and analytical than Deere’s account. That is its value. Wellum is a masterful writer and possesses a marked ability to evoke a mood. It is precisely because Wellum writes with mature understanding that he captures so well the innocence and naivety of his past self. This book does not educate one about the Battle of Britain, but it pulls you into the cockpit and the heart of a young man caught up in it. A wonderful read.

First Light

By Geoffrey Wellum,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The first-hand account of a 17-year-old Englishman who became an ace fighter pilot with the RAF, the youngest at the time, and flew Spitfires during the Battle of Britain.


Eagle Day

By Richard Collier,

Book cover of Eagle Day: The Battle of Britain

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.

Eagle Day

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…


Piece of Cake

By Derek Robinson,

Book cover of Piece of Cake

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.

Piece of Cake

By Derek Robinson,

Why should I read it?

1 author 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…


A Moment in Time

By H.E. Bates,

Book cover of A Moment in Time

The Kent countryside has a strong enough presence in this book to become a character in its own right, when the exquisite beauty of an English summer contrasts with the lethal Battle of Britain dog fights leaving vapour trails in the sky overhead. As a local young woman befriends a group of brave, doomed fighter pilots, the story captures the desperation and the absurdities of conflict, and the tender nature of transient and yet hopeful love. The author was commissioned by the RAF to write about the war, and I can tell from his pinpoint, unflinching detail of that unsettling time, that he was a first-hand eyewitness. 

A Moment in Time

By H.E. Bates,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Moment in Time as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


The Battle of Britain

By James Holland,

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

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.

The Battle of Britain

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…


Spitfire

By John Nichol,

Book cover of Spitfire

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.

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 SUNDAY TIMES NON FICTION BESTSELLER
WHSmith NON-FICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR 2018

'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…


Tally-Ho! A Yankee in a Spitfire

By Arthur Donahue,

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

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.

Tally-Ho! A Yankee in a Spitfire

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…


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Interested in the Battle of Britain, the Luftwaffe, and the British Royal Air Force?

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