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The Good Fight book

THE GOOD FIGHT: BATTLE OF BRITAIN PROPAGANDA AND THE FEW

Palgrave Macmillan website

BOOK FOCUS

How critical was propaganda to national survival during the Battle of Britain? The struggle for air supremacy lasted for just sixteen weeks during the summer and autumn of 1940, yet its outcome was vital in thwarting Hitler’s invasion plans. The RAF’s ‘fighter boys’, Churchill’s ‘Few’, were central to that achievement, sustaining the morale of millions through their heroism. A propaganda victory within a military success, the Air Ministry daily projected their prowess through its Air Communiqués to national and international audiences, using the press, newsreels, and radio broadcasts. Hotly debated in Britain, Germany and America, opinion hinged critically upon these ‘cricket scores’, which in turn led to the rapid heroicization of the Few into legend. Propaganda organizations, the media, and censorship were key to this accomplishment and are also explored in The Good Fight. Wartime feature films, art and literature further consolidated the mythicization of the Few, influencing the Battle of Britain’s post-war historiography. Only more recently challenged by revisionists, these aspects too are assessed in this comprehensive, illustrated account of a key moment in Britain’s history.

CONTENTS

Chronology
Introduction
‘A Tangle of Vapour Trails’ – British Propaganda and Propagandists
‘Squadrons Up’ – The Battle of Britain
‘Arise To Conquer’ – RAF Morale and Tributes to the Few
‘Winged Words’ – The Aircraft Claims Propaganda War
‘Mastery of the Air’ – BBC Home Front Propaganda
‘Finest Hour’ – Newspaper and Magazine Propaganda
‘Men Like These’ – The Few in Newsreels and MOI ‘Shorts’
‘The Sky’s the Limit’ – The Few and Iconographic Propaganda
‘Combat Report’ – Reaching Britain, America, the Axis and the World
‘The R.A.F. in Action’ – The Few on Film
‘To So Few’ – Wartime Literature and the Few
Conclusion
Bibliography
Appendix

BOOK REVIEW EXTRACTS

‘This is the most authoritative account of the Battle of Britain that I have ever encountered. It covers the events of the Battle itself and its importance to the course of Word War II, but it also exhaustively analyses the contemporary reaction to the Battle in official and unofficial propaganda, in newspapers, films, radio, painting and literature, and the process of mythification which the Battle underwent. Written in a thoroughly accessible style, the book is a remarkable achievement in its breadth, its depth and its mastery of the large array of disparate sources.’ – Jeffrey Richards, Lancaster University, UK

‘In the seventy years since it was fought scores of books have been written about the Battle of Britain. It might have seemed impossible to produce, at this late stage, a thoroughly original contribution to the literature, but this is exactly what Garry Campion has achieved… Campion’s rigorous and scholarly analysis takes us as close to the truth as we are ever likely to get.’ – Paul Addison, Cercles, University of Edinburgh

‘An immense, highly detailed, and careful work of scholarship full of subtle nuance and considered judgment as well as informative fact. For anyone seriously interested in the nature and content of the propaganda surrounding the Battle of Britain, The Good Fight will prove indispensable reading. – Professor S.P. MacKenzie, South Carolina University

‘Garry Campion has undoubtedly made a significant and lasting contribution to Battle of Britain historiography. Although the extent to which Britain actually faced invasion during the summer of 1940 is now debated by historians, the fact remains that it was a significant event – one which continues to arouse great interest amongst enthusiasts and academics alike. That being so, this new and comprehensive study of how the conflict, and the RAF aircrew who fought it, was presented in British wartime propaganda is crucial to our wider understanding of the dramatic events concerned. As scholars seek to further contextualise the Battle of Britain, Garry Campion’s “The Good Fight” will become a benchmark in historiography – and an essential point of reference to any student of summer 1940’. – Dilip Sarkar MBE FRHistS BA(Hons), leading authority on the Battle of Britain

‘One could very easily be forgiven for thinking that, for the serious historian at least, everything that could be said about the Second World War in general and the Battle of Britain in particular, has been said. Campion in his exploration of the propaganda aspects of the conflict has demonstrated that there are still valuable inroads to be made into the subject …the book eloquently demonstrates that there is still a great deal of analysis needed on the Second World War with, perhaps, a companion volume on the depiction of the strategic air offensive most needed.’ – Professor Peter W. Gray, University of Birmingham

‘In this commemorative atmosphere of the Second World War, where scholarly and popular literature of nearly every aspect of the British military abounds, one might wonder at the value of another such entrant in this publishing parade. Yet, in The Good Fight, Garry Campion has contributed to this burgeoning collection of wartime literature an impressively detailed and deeply researched work on the Battle of Britain and its propaganda. One would be hard pressed to discover any recent work that covers the sixteen weeks of the Battle of Britain in such detail and with such a breadth of sources.’ – Jennifer Purcell, Saint Michael’s College

‘…Campion’s book is so much more than a treatment of propaganda and information in wartime… The book treats with great sensitivity issues of morality… Campion’s work will also appeal to social historians interested in the impact of the Battle of Britain on popular culture… The Good Fight is a rigorous and superbly judged piece of scholarship. Because of its broad scope, it is a very important addition to Second World War historiography.’ – Christina Goulter, King’s College London

BOOK CITATIONS

Jeremy Black  Air Power: A Global History (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016). 

Michael Dolski, Sam Edwards, John Buckley (eds) – D-Day in History and Memory: The Normandy Landings in International Remembrance and Commemoration (University of North Texas Press, 2014)

David Edgerton – England and the Aeroplane, 2nd edition (Penguin, 2013).

Peter Gray – Air Warfare: History, Theory and Practice (Bloomsbury, 2015).

Brett Holman – The Next War in the Air: Britain’s Fear of the Bomber, 1908-1941 (Ashgate, 2014).

Richard North – The Many Not the Few: The Stolen History of the Battle of Britain (Continuum, 2012).

Phillips Payson O’Brien – How the War was Won: Air-Sea Power and Allied Victory in World War II (Cambridge Military Histories: Cambridge University Press, 2015).

Robin Prior – When Britain Saved the West: The Story of 1940 (Yale University Press, 2015).

Jonathan Rose – The Literary Churchill: Author, Reader, Actor (Yale University Press, 2015).

Dilip Sarkar – Fighter Ace: The Extraordinary Life of Douglas Bader, Battle of Britain Hero (Amberley, 2014).

John Simpson – Unreliable Sources: How the Twentieth Century was Reported (Pan, 2011).

Dietmar Süss – Death from the Skies: How the British and Germans Survived Bombing in World (Oxford University Press, 2014).

Nimrod Tal – The American Civil War in British Culture: Representations and Responses, 1870 to the Present (Springer, 2015). 

Daniel Todman  Britain's  War: Into Battle, 1937-1941 (Allen Lane, 2016).

Nicholas Toye – The Lion’s Roar: The Untold Story of Churchill’s World War II Speeches (Oxford University Press, 2013).