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Unflinching Zeal: The Air Battles Over France and Britain, May-October 1940 Hardcover – Sep 15 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Naval Institute Press (Sept. 15 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1612511112
  • ISBN-13: 978-1612511115
  • Product Dimensions: 23.3 x 16.2 x 2.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 975 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,140,862 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"Two Roads to War is immensely readable, but it is also incredibly dense with fact. Robin Higham's firsthand knowledge of the history of the period helps make this book an enduring masterpiece. Buy it; read it! -- Defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis

"Unflinching Zeal is very much recommended [book for those] who seek in-depth history surrounding early World War II." -- The Midwest Book Review

"Two Roads to War is simply magnificent--just riveting, and I really have enjoyed it. It is a singular contribution to the literature of interwar military aviation, and a work that establishes a new standard for historians studying that period." -- Richard P. Hallion, Aerospace Historian

"Higham, a doyen of air power history (100 Years of Air Power and Aviation), makes another significant contribution with this comparative analysis of French and British policies and developments between the world wars." -- Publishers Weekly

"Robin Higham's comparative study of British and French aviation during the interwar period offers a comprehensive and thoughtful portrait of the efforts of two countries to meet the political, military, and industrial challenges posed by a young and rapidly developing technology. Filled with fascinating details, Two Roads to War does not shrink from drawing larger and provocative conclusions about the effectiveness of Britain and France. It is an impressive achievement." --Talbot Imlay, Université Laval (Québec, Canada), author of Facing the Second World War: Strategy, Politics, and Economics in Britain and France, 1938-1940

About the Author

Robin Higham was born in the UK and educated there and in the US. He served in the RAF as a pilot. He was the author of numerous books and articles in the field of aviation history. He was a professor of military history at Kansas State University for 50 years.

Inside This Book

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa276db1c) out of 5 stars 6 reviews
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa27e2138) out of 5 stars Statistics, analysis and percentages Nov. 29 2012
By Writing Historian - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I procrastinated writing this review for a month or more because I really liked Higham's first book on this topic. But this book left me feeling much differently about what I just read. First, you have to realize that the author's style tends to be a bit heavy on factual information and analysis while placing less emphasis on smoothly flowing prose, e.g. a stereotypical academic approach to a topic. But this book took the academic approach one step further in that key points were repeated over and over again (as if repetition in itself were that convincing) and there were so many charts/graphs/tables that I started to feel that RAND, not the Naval Institute Press, had published this book. As a pure reference source I would give Unflinching Zeal a minimum of 4-1/2 stars. As a narrative account of how the Luftwaffe, Royal Air Force, and Armee de l'Air performed during the Battle of France and Battle of Britain, I reluctantly would only give him two stars. Three stars splits the difference. I think it could have been much more accessible book had the publisher employed a more assertive editor with some knowledge of the subject matter.
HASH(0xa35d230c) out of 5 stars Not an Exciting Read July 14 2015
By Jason Wisniewski - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For what should be the exciting battles of France and Britain, Robin Higham boils down these two campaigns to an analysis of statistics. Higham begins by taking us through his calculations of how many German aircraft the French Air Force should have shot down, for example, before later moving on to comparative wastage and replenishment rates of the Luftwaffe and Royal Air Force. The book is loaded with tables (55 to be exact) and features 25 photographs. The first three chapters - after a lengthy preface and introduction - offer a convoluted analysis of the three main air forces involved in the battles - the French Armee de l'Air, German Luftwaffe, and British RAF. Then the book moves on to the Battle of France itself, before an "Analysis and the Paradox of the Battle of France," and finally the Battle of Britain. There is a section on "Conclusions from the Air Battles of 1940" and notes, bibliography, and index. Overall Higham's focus on esoteric statistical questions draws quite a bit of attention away from the overall historical facts of the battles and makes the book difficult to read through. There are many better books available on the Battle of Britain - for the Battle of France I suggest Robert Jackson's "Air War Over France 1939-40", which though old (published in 1976) offers a better overall account.
HASH(0xa27dc6c0) out of 5 stars Four Stars Oct. 21 2014
By white tiger - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Great book for details, not an easy read but you do understand what happened in France in 1940
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa2bc96c0) out of 5 stars Good subject, good points, poor delivery July 25 2013
By William A. Thayer - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Great subject to write about. It is hard to find anything on the French Air Force in WWII. It didn't last too long. The book is on the British, German and French Air Forces in the Battle of France and the Battle of Britain. The strong point is the data gathered in tables showing the losses. The author is also sensitive to the fact that losses come from many causes: air combat, accidents, lack of maintenance. There are plenty of tables but none on the relative performance of aircraft (speed, turning ability, diving ability, climbing ability, firepower, engines etc.). The author paints a better picture of what the French Air Force did than what I suspect really happened. I don't think any of the French planes could measure up to a Me 109. I don't think the French Army troops thought the French Air Force did much of a job as they got pounded. I think the Germans commanded the air in the critical spots at the critical time (this was not really discussed -- air was separate from ground actions).

The author is repetitious and goes over essentially the same ground many times in the same chapter. The book could use better focus and less repetition and probably get the points across easier and in a more understandable manner. The book does present a lot of data that I have never seen before, and I have read a lot of books on airpower in WWII. I think the book is worth reading for this alone.
13 of 25 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa27f98c4) out of 5 stars Confusing book Nov. 2 2012
By mr katcup - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book itle is mis-leading. It implies it's a straight story of the air war from May to October 1940. Really it's a compilation of statistics on the forces involved andd how to interperate them. If I were writing this subject, I'd tell them story and them show the charts as an appendage.