In This Review

Despatch on War Operations: 23rd February 1942 to 8th May 1945
Despatch on War Operations: 23rd February 1942 to 8th May 1945
By Arthur T. Harris
Frank Cass, 1995, 211 pp

Air Chief Marshal Arthur "Bomber" Harris orchestrated the Royal Air Force's campaign against Germany during World War II. Hard-bitten, ruthless, and contemptuous of any strategy save that of leveling German cities, he maintained the confidence of his aircrews despite appalling loss rates. His final report, reproduced here with outstanding introductions by two of the foremost students of airpower during World War II, makes grimly fascinating reading. Lucidly written and making a use of charts and graphics that puts to shame some of the computer-generated confections of our day, the Despatch chronicles not merely the development of a campaign, but the emergence of a complex and, in some important respects, extremely successful air force organization -- RAF Bomber Command. Students of modern warfare will be particularly interested in how Harris picked his measure of effectiveness for the air campaign against Germany. The Despatch is Harris' own in language, style, and outlook, and as such offers considerable insight into an excessively vilified but nonetheless formidable military leader.