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Defiant: The Untold Story of the Battle of Britain

Robert Verkaik

13 Reviews

Rated 0

Military history

A new history of the Battle of Britain written from the unique perspective of the pilots who flew Britain's forgotten fighter plane. While history has exhaustively recorded the crucial role played by the Spitfire and the Hurricane, next to nothing exists about the third British fighter which took part in the battle: the Boulton Paul Defiant.

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Praise for Posh Boys:
'The latest in the series of powerful books on the divisions in modern Britain, and will take its place on many bookshelves beside Reni Eddo-Lodge's Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race and Owen Jones's Chavs.'

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'A trenchant j'accuse against the old-boy chumocracy . . . Posh Boys is, for a book about public schools, decidedly comprehensive.'
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'Inspired, committed, careful and kind.'
Danny Dorling, author of Inequality and the 1%

The families of the R. A. F. servicemen killed flying Defiants believed that their husbands, brothers and sons had died in vain, but the truth is that their vital contribution to battle of Dunkirk and the Battle of Britain has been erased from the official history. Robert Verkaik has uncovered new records, including top secret memos written by Hugh Dowding, the head of Fighter Command, combat reports, pilot logs and recordings of the last interviews with Defiant crews, as well as traced the relatives of Defiant pilots, to tell the story of the Battle of Britain as it has never been told before.

In 1940, when Britain was preparing to defend itself against the threatened Nazi invasion, the nation put its faith in three frontline fighter planes. Much has been written of the heroic feats and sacrifices of the R. A. F. pilots who took off in their Spitfires and Hurricanes against the larger Luftwaffe, but what of the third British fighter, the Boulton Paul Defiant?

Very little has been written about this fighter plane and the brave airmen who flew it. Instead, history has treated the aircraft as a military design failure and its participation in the battle as an unmitigated disaster, costing the lives of dozens of young pilots and gunners. But this official version of the Battle of Britain underplays the heroism of the airmen who flew the Boulton Paul Defiant against all the odds. It also fails to show how the Defiant was as much a victim of political in-fighting and mismanagement as it was of the much faster German Messerschmitts. But perhaps the greatest omission is the awkward fact that a Defiant squadron still holds the record for

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Praise for Defiant: The Untold Story of the Battle of Britain

  • Praise for Posh Boys:

  • Verkaik comprehensively demolishes [public school] claims. - New Statesman

  • Praise for Posh Boys:

  • The latest in the series of powerful books on the divisions in modern Britain, and will take its place on many bookshelves beside Reni Eddo-Lodge's Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race and Owen Jones's Chavs. - Sunday Times

  • Praise for Posh Boys:

  • Does a fine job of reminding us how powerful a hold the elite schools have over public life. - Times

  • Praise for Posh Boys:

  • An illuminating and hugely enjoyable read, packed full of eye-opening facts . . . At a time when the gap between rich and poor is widening, we need to talk seriously about the role of public schools in our society. Posh Boys is a welcome catalyst for that debate. - Sunday Herald

  • Praise for Posh Boys:

  • In his fascinating, enraging polemic, Verkaik touches on one of the strangest aspects of the elite schools and their product's domination of public life for two-and-a-half centuries: the acquiescence of everyone else. - Observer

  • A trenchant j'accuse against the old-boy chumocracy . . . Posh Boys is, for a book about public schools, decidedly comprehensive. - Guardian

  • You cannot understand Britain without understanding this - the story of how we became a nation obsessed with elite education that continues to stack the odds against fairness and progress, and the cultural forces it has unleashed upon us all. Robert Verkaik tells it with clarity, and makes a powerful call for change.'

  • Inspired, committed, careful and kind.

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