Taking London

Taking London by Martin Dugard

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline for Taking London:

Sometimes it takes an island.

Quick synopsis:

The story of the Battle of Britain through the eyes of four Allied pilots.

Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like:

The Nazi Party grew from just a small movement in 1920 to about 400,000 people by World War II.

Fun Fact for History Nerds:

In the first three days of the Battle of Britain, over 1 million people were relocated.

My Take on Taking London:

Well, Martin Dugard made me want to be a pilot for a few hundred pages so I would call his new book, Taking London, quite successful. Generally, I like my feet on the ground, so this is no small feat.

Taking London is about the Battle of Britain, told mostly through the actions of Winston Churchill, Air Vice-Marshall Hugh Dowding, and four fighter pilots. Dugard is going for action and excitement rather than analysis in the narrative. He uses short, evocative sentences to put the reader in the pilot’s shoes. If you are well-read on the Battle of Britain, then you may not learn anything new, but you will enjoy the fighter sequences at the very least. Dugard is shooting for the casual reader who craves excitement as opposed to extensive diatribes on air tactics. Neither is better than the other. They are just different approaches and depends on what you are looking for.

The most effective sequences by far are with the fighter pilots. Their stories jump off the page and I would have read a book purely based on their stories. Dugard also adds context by giving short sequences to Churchill and Dowding which are vital to understanding what the pilots are facing and why. Not all choices are effective, though. Sections devoted to Joe Kennedy and Edward Morrow could be eliminated without damaging the narrative at all. That said, the chapters are short, and these sections are not all that distracting.

If you like Dugard’s previous works then you will enjoy this one for sure.

(This book was provided as an advance copy by Netgalley and Dutton Books.)


The perfect book for someone who thinks they hate history. Buy it here!

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