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The Few: July-October 1940

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In the early days of World War Two when Britain stood alone against the terror of Hitler's all-conquering Third Reich, her future hung in the balance; her defence in the hands of the Spitfires and Hurricanes of the Royal Air Force's Fighter Command. They were Churchill's Few. In defiance of their own country's strict neutrality laws, a handful of American adventurers flew In the early days of World War Two when Britain stood alone against the terror of Hitler's all-conquering Third Reich, her future hung in the balance; her defence in the hands of the Spitfires and Hurricanes of the Royal Air Force's Fighter Command. They were Churchill's Few. In defiance of their own country's strict neutrality laws, a handful of American adventurers flew with them. This is their story - and a fresh perspective on the greatest air battle the world has ever seen.


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In the early days of World War Two when Britain stood alone against the terror of Hitler's all-conquering Third Reich, her future hung in the balance; her defence in the hands of the Spitfires and Hurricanes of the Royal Air Force's Fighter Command. They were Churchill's Few. In defiance of their own country's strict neutrality laws, a handful of American adventurers flew In the early days of World War Two when Britain stood alone against the terror of Hitler's all-conquering Third Reich, her future hung in the balance; her defence in the hands of the Spitfires and Hurricanes of the Royal Air Force's Fighter Command. They were Churchill's Few. In defiance of their own country's strict neutrality laws, a handful of American adventurers flew with them. This is their story - and a fresh perspective on the greatest air battle the world has ever seen.

30 review for The Few: July-October 1940

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    Everyone knows Churchill's famous quote from the Battle of Britain. But of the "few", 20% were not British but were from other nations. And within that small group was an even smaller group, a Few Americans, officially 7 but actually 8 (you'll just have to read the book to find out). These few pilots were breaking the law, the Neutrality Act, and had to sneak out of the US and into the UK. There are some amazing adventures just getting there. Mr Kershaw seems to bring the skills of a novelist to Everyone knows Churchill's famous quote from the Battle of Britain. But of the "few", 20% were not British but were from other nations. And within that small group was an even smaller group, a Few Americans, officially 7 but actually 8 (you'll just have to read the book to find out). These few pilots were breaking the law, the Neutrality Act, and had to sneak out of the US and into the UK. There are some amazing adventures just getting there. Mr Kershaw seems to bring the skills of a novelist to telling the history of small groups. The book grabs you and never lets go. These pilots sacrifice a lot to help defend Britain. The hectic pace of battle, the excitement and terror of flying, the appalling losses on both sides, the famous aces of both sides are all here. The US ambassador to the UK, Joseph Kennedy, does not come off well here. He along with many others, thought the Brits would be defeated. Instead, the battle was turned barely in time and these Americans were there to help. Read The Few: The American "Knights of the Air" Who Risked Everything to Fight in the Battle of Britain and you will come to see it easily get 5 Stars

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jill Hutchinson

    The title of this book really has two meanings......first, the Few refers to the RAF in the Battle of Britain as mentioned in one of Churchill's most famous speeches; second, it also refers to the "few" Americans who came to England while the United States was still neutral, to fly and fight with their English brother airmen in the RAF. We seldom hear of those original seven Americans who risked their citizenship to join the fight against the Nazis. And what a group they were, a two-time Olympic The title of this book really has two meanings......first, the Few refers to the RAF in the Battle of Britain as mentioned in one of Churchill's most famous speeches; second, it also refers to the "few" Americans who came to England while the United States was still neutral, to fly and fight with their English brother airmen in the RAF. We seldom hear of those original seven Americans who risked their citizenship to join the fight against the Nazis. And what a group they were, a two-time Olympic gold medalist in bob sledding; a 4'10" fellow who needed a pillow to reach the Spitfire instruments; the son of White Russian immigrants; and just plain Joes. (Only one of these pilots survived the war.) The author uses excerpts from logbooks, diaries, and letters to flesh out the characters of these men. He also provides the stories of the German Luftwaffe aces, especially Galland and Molder who ruled the skies over the Channel, at least for a while. It is a wonderful book which tells of the heroics of those men who felt that they must come to the aid of England in her darkest hour. The final sentence in the book pretty much tells it all. In Sussex, on the gravestone of RAF Pilot Officer Billy Fiske, the first American pilot to die in the Battle of Britain, the following words are inscribed for all to see. AN AMERICAN CITIZEN WHO DIED THAT ENGLAND MIGHT LIVE.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Boudewijn

    The dramatic and unforgettable story of eight young Americans who joined Britain's Royal Air Force, disregarding their country's neutrality laws and risking their citizenship. In a few months they became highly skilled and helped England win the Battle of Britain. Alex Kershaw manages to tell a riveting story - from both the British and German perspective. This sometimes reads as a young boys suspense novel but not with a happy ending. In the end only one survives to tell the tale. The dramatic and unforgettable story of eight young Americans who joined Britain's Royal Air Force, disregarding their country's neutrality laws and risking their citizenship. In a few months they became highly skilled and helped England win the Battle of Britain. Alex Kershaw manages to tell a riveting story - from both the British and German perspective. This sometimes reads as a young boys suspense novel but not with a happy ending. In the end only one survives to tell the tale.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Fred Shaw

    "Never have so many owed so much to so few." Winston Churchill, 1940, during the Battle of Britain. There were many great leaders in WWII, but in my mind, there were 2 who were the greatest: Winston Churchill and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Churchill for his vision, compassion and determination, and Roosevelt for his humanity, foresight, and conscience to fight with his countrymen to come to the aid of England and the world. This is the second book I've read by Alex Kershaw, and I was not disappoi "Never have so many owed so much to so few." Winston Churchill, 1940, during the Battle of Britain. There were many great leaders in WWII, but in my mind, there were 2 who were the greatest: Winston Churchill and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Churchill for his vision, compassion and determination, and Roosevelt for his humanity, foresight, and conscience to fight with his countrymen to come to the aid of England and the world. This is the second book I've read by Alex Kershaw, and I was not disappointed. "The Few" is the story about American pilots who went to the aid of England when the German war machine was zeroing in to destroy her. The Americans had to give up their rights as US citizens, due to US neutrality laws, to fly RAF Spitfires and fight the "Hun". It is also a story of a nation that even when faced with overwhelming odds, stood courageously to face the Nazis. Finally Kershaw gives us a view into the enemy and how even with their advantage of numbers in pilots and war aircraft were humiliated and repeatedly turned back by the Royal Air Force, aided by the few American Eagle Squadron.

  5. 4 out of 5

    'Aussie Rick'

    I picked up a copy of this book at the airport in Singapore a few years back and read it cover to cover by the time my plane had landed at Sydney airport in Australia. A pretty good book covering the exploits of a number of American pilots who joined the Royal Air Force and its fighter squadrons during the Battle of Britain. The story is well told and the book was a joy to read, covering an aspect not normally found in many history books, again, highly recommended reading!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    There are three groups of Americans who went to World War II long before the U.S. entered the war. First there was a group of Chinese American pilots from Eugene, Oregon who travelled to China and flew against the Japanese. Almost nothing has been written about these brave Americans. Then there was the American Volunteer Group, the Flying Tigers, whose exploits are almost mythic. Then there were those Americans who, in violation of American neutrality, travelled to England and flew for England a There are three groups of Americans who went to World War II long before the U.S. entered the war. First there was a group of Chinese American pilots from Eugene, Oregon who travelled to China and flew against the Japanese. Almost nothing has been written about these brave Americans. Then there was the American Volunteer Group, the Flying Tigers, whose exploits are almost mythic. Then there were those Americans who, in violation of American neutrality, travelled to England and flew for England against Germany. "The Few" is about some of the pilots in this latter group who, seven in number, flew during the Battle of Britain, in effect the few of the few. Only one of the seven would survive the war. "The Few" follows the exploits of these brave men, where they came, why they fought, how they lived and how they died. It was a time when just a few men could make a big difference and Alex Kershaw did a first rate job of telling thier story. Now if someone would just write a book about those Chinese pilots from Oregon, now that would be something.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Alisa

    I really think highly of Alex Kershaw's ability to blend the horrors and excitement of war with thorough research and a recognition that these are young men (in this case) risking their lives for philosophical commitments like freedom and patriotism, as well as acknowledging that they were also high-flying dare devils who really wanted to fly. The 7 Americans and one American under Canadian passport who are the center of this book risked prison to fly for the British in 1940 because of America's I really think highly of Alex Kershaw's ability to blend the horrors and excitement of war with thorough research and a recognition that these are young men (in this case) risking their lives for philosophical commitments like freedom and patriotism, as well as acknowledging that they were also high-flying dare devils who really wanted to fly. The 7 Americans and one American under Canadian passport who are the center of this book risked prison to fly for the British in 1940 because of America's commitment to neutrality. A very fast read, even though I have limited knowledge of WWII battles and less about fighter pilots and airplanes, I recommend it without reservation.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Belair

    This is a very good read.If your interested in The Battle of Britain you should check this out. 7 brave American's choose to ignore america's neutrality and face arrest to help Britain in her hour of need.True hero's. This is a very good read.If your interested in The Battle of Britain you should check this out. 7 brave American's choose to ignore america's neutrality and face arrest to help Britain in her hour of need.True hero's.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Cindy Minor

    I don't know what your preferred reading genre is. I read a wide range of books including fluffy, feel-good books that I know will have a sweet ending. Whatever your preference, I hope that like me, you have times where you dig into a book that you know will not leave you feeling mushy, but rather in awe of the potential for the human race. This is one such book. A group of Americans, with questionable motives at the outset for flying with the RAF, but who ended up displaying a courage most of u I don't know what your preferred reading genre is. I read a wide range of books including fluffy, feel-good books that I know will have a sweet ending. Whatever your preference, I hope that like me, you have times where you dig into a book that you know will not leave you feeling mushy, but rather in awe of the potential for the human race. This is one such book. A group of Americans, with questionable motives at the outset for flying with the RAF, but who ended up displaying a courage most of us could only hope for. It is a factual telling of "The Few" who flew in the Battle of Britain during WWII, and before America joined the effort, and made a sacrifice for people not considered their own. This book left me sober and hoping I am making sacrifices for the people around me and not just those considered "my own".

  10. 4 out of 5

    Paul Pessolano

    “The Few: The American “Knights of the Air” Who Risked Everything to Fight in the Battle of Britain” by Alex Kershaw, Published by Da Capo Press. Category – World War II Publication Date – October 24, 2006. Every once in awhile you come across a very unique and interesting story that very few people know about, so is the case with this book. It is the story of a few brave Americans who joined the fight to save England. These young men were flight enthusiasts who had a great desire to fly. They mad “The Few: The American “Knights of the Air” Who Risked Everything to Fight in the Battle of Britain” by Alex Kershaw, Published by Da Capo Press. Category – World War II Publication Date – October 24, 2006. Every once in awhile you come across a very unique and interesting story that very few people know about, so is the case with this book. It is the story of a few brave Americans who joined the fight to save England. These young men were flight enthusiasts who had a great desire to fly. They made their way to England to join the Royal Air Force, even though they could lose their American Citizenship by defying the United States neutrality at the beginning of World War II. These young men had to fight to get accepted into the RAF, even when England was hurting for pilots. Part of the problem was that these men had very little flight time and none in a combat situation. The first “Few”, eight to be exact, all were killed in combat accept one who survived the war. The book gives a vivid description of the exploits of these men and the air battle over Great Britain. Very few people, to this day, are aware of the sacrifices made by these young men both in the United States and Great Britain. A wonderful read especially for those World War II buffs, but also one that should interest those looking for something different to read.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Bear

    If you are into WWII aviation, this book will capture your attention. The author tells the personal stories of the first Americans to fight in WWII on the side of the British; they broke many laws to do so, but knew the coming storm of war would not abate once Europe fell to Adolph Hitler and his military; Britain was in a time of dire need, and unlike many Americans and their comfortable, isolationist lives, these young men risked everything (and in most cases, ultimately paid with their lives) If you are into WWII aviation, this book will capture your attention. The author tells the personal stories of the first Americans to fight in WWII on the side of the British; they broke many laws to do so, but knew the coming storm of war would not abate once Europe fell to Adolph Hitler and his military; Britain was in a time of dire need, and unlike many Americans and their comfortable, isolationist lives, these young men risked everything (and in most cases, ultimately paid with their lives) to fly in the RAF, fighting the Luftwaffe. Without the dedication and sacrifice of men like these, (and many other men from other countries as well), Britain might not have survived the "Battle of Britain". I am in awe of people with such convictions; I thought mine were strong, but compared to these guys I'm an amateur.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Grant Masson

    Alex Kershaw’s “The Few” focuses on five of the eight Americans who fought in the Battle of Britain, the aerial combat from July 10 to Oct. 31, 1940, the battle that likely staved off Adolf Hitler’s planned invasion of Britain.

  13. 5 out of 5

    David Bennett

    Excellent very well researched, engaging book covering a lesser known corner of WWII history. Highly recommended!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Blue Morse

    Captivating and emotional read about the 7 American airmen who forfeited their citizenship and lives to fly for the RAF in the Battle of Britain while their country slept in isolationism. As Winston Churchill said, “never in the field of conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few.” As one official RAF historian wrote, “When the details of the fighting grow dim, and the names of its heroes are forgotten, men will still remember that civilization was saved by a thousand British boys” ... Captivating and emotional read about the 7 American airmen who forfeited their citizenship and lives to fly for the RAF in the Battle of Britain while their country slept in isolationism. As Winston Churchill said, “never in the field of conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few.” As one official RAF historian wrote, “When the details of the fighting grow dim, and the names of its heroes are forgotten, men will still remember that civilization was saved by a thousand British boys” ... and a few Americans.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Bob Stenberg

    I really enjoyed Kershaw's account of the Americans in the battle of Britain. It is amazing that Great Britain was able to hang in there till the USA was forced in the war by Pearl Harbor. I really enjoyed Kershaw's account of the Americans in the battle of Britain. It is amazing that Great Britain was able to hang in there till the USA was forced in the war by Pearl Harbor.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jwt Jan50

    I enjoy Kershaw's writing. If you like this, I'd also recommend Olson/Cloud 'Citizens of London' and Morison's 'Battle of the Atlantic.' And if you're really feeling brave - Humphrey Bogart and Raymond Massey in Convoy. They went before they had to . . . . I enjoy Kershaw's writing. If you like this, I'd also recommend Olson/Cloud 'Citizens of London' and Morison's 'Battle of the Atlantic.' And if you're really feeling brave - Humphrey Bogart and Raymond Massey in Convoy. They went before they had to . . . .

  17. 4 out of 5

    Mike Thomas

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This is a very good book about American pilots that fought with the British during WWII and in so doing defied the American Neutrality Act prior to the US getting into the war. They were effectively breaking the law to fight against Hitler's air power and defend Great Britain. The battles are described by some of the remaining veterans so you get first hand knowledge that's really very descriptive. What is very interesting besides the battles is the lengths these men went to just to fight for Gr This is a very good book about American pilots that fought with the British during WWII and in so doing defied the American Neutrality Act prior to the US getting into the war. They were effectively breaking the law to fight against Hitler's air power and defend Great Britain. The battles are described by some of the remaining veterans so you get first hand knowledge that's really very descriptive. What is very interesting besides the battles is the lengths these men went to just to fight for Great Britain, sneaking out of the US to fight in France, the red tape they had to go through eventually slowed them down so much that France had surrendered before they could even fight for them which is how they ended up fighting for Great Britain. And that was just as slow a process due to the Neutrality Act and actually happened due to a chance meeting on a ship while crossing the Atlantic months earlier. In the end they all become hero's in their own right, as they should. Overall it makes you appreciate the type of people that Americans were during WWII.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    The Few Americans who fought alongside the immortalized British “Few”. Scrambled to fly up to 8 sorties a day with no warning and knowing each one could be their last (similar to our helicopter pilots during VietNam).

  19. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    Kershaw writes an up-close and personal account of the Americans who fought with the RAF in Britain before the US came into the war in December 1941 after Pearl Harbor. They risked and gave their all to fight for freedom and against tyranny in a land not their own. Well worth reading.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Wes

    This is an excellent study of the Few Americans that initally risked their citinzenship to fight for Great Britian against the Luftwaffe onslaught. Mr. Kershaw writes a quick moving narrative where you the reader become attached to the pilots that served. I'm not an expert on the Battle of Britian, so learned some new facts about the air battle and what odds these dedicated pilots were up against. These pilots of the RAF had guts to go on multiple sorties a day not knowing in the next minute whet This is an excellent study of the Few Americans that initally risked their citinzenship to fight for Great Britian against the Luftwaffe onslaught. Mr. Kershaw writes a quick moving narrative where you the reader become attached to the pilots that served. I'm not an expert on the Battle of Britian, so learned some new facts about the air battle and what odds these dedicated pilots were up against. These pilots of the RAF had guts to go on multiple sorties a day not knowing in the next minute whether they will be dead or alive. I liked how Kershaw incorporated the Luftwaffe pilots as well and put a human face to them and did not paint them as just a typical diabolical enemy. Great Book!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Theresa

    18 months before Pearl Harbor and America's entrance into World War II, a few American pilots felt passionate and compelled enough to risk their citizenship by breaking America's neutrality laws to join the Royal Air Force and help save Britain. An excellent read! 18 months before Pearl Harbor and America's entrance into World War II, a few American pilots felt passionate and compelled enough to risk their citizenship by breaking America's neutrality laws to join the Royal Air Force and help save Britain. An excellent read!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jesper Jorgensen

    Mr. Kershaws words read by Scott Brick is not a bad combination, not a bad combination at all.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mike Lanski

    An amazing and sad story of the brave Americans who went to Britain despite their country being neutral at that time and flew with the RAF.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Justin Matthews

    A fine book. Hard to follow at times (at least on audio), but it nicely captures a slice of the WWII saga. Kershaw writes well and tells great stories, and this is no exception.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Alex Kershaw documents the courage and tenacity of 8 American flyers who defied the odds by circumventing America's neutrality to become " The Few" to serve in the RAF prior to, during, and after the Battle of Britain. Their story has, for the most part, has been only a footnote in the titanic struggle that took place in the skies over England. The author, known for his recognition of near-forgotten men in WWII, has once again featured the contributions of men, undistinguished but for the fact t Alex Kershaw documents the courage and tenacity of 8 American flyers who defied the odds by circumventing America's neutrality to become " The Few" to serve in the RAF prior to, during, and after the Battle of Britain. Their story has, for the most part, has been only a footnote in the titanic struggle that took place in the skies over England. The author, known for his recognition of near-forgotten men in WWII, has once again featured the contributions of men, undistinguished but for the fact that they forsook the safety and security of their country to answer a higher calling, namely to aid in the vanquishing of a world tyrant. The defeat of the German Luftwaffe was the first step in achieving that goal. Kudos to Kershaw for shedding light on the lives of some men that we know little about. Men who put their life in jeopardy so all mankind could live to be free. It was their last full measure of devotion. A great book that surprised me because this story I knew little of.

  26. 4 out of 5

    John

    Outstanding. Beautifully written, great characters.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Eddie

    Besides being a very clear account of England's WW2 struggles when they fought alone. The story of the seven Americans who joined the battle was just wonderfully told. As someone smarter than me once said "England did not win the war but they did not lose the war." Besides being a very clear account of England's WW2 struggles when they fought alone. The story of the seven Americans who joined the battle was just wonderfully told. As someone smarter than me once said "England did not win the war but they did not lose the war."

  28. 4 out of 5

    Christian Nikitas

    I am just becoming interested in WWII. This book was very easy to read. It was written like a novel. I learned a lot about Americans fighting in Britain before the USA joined the war. I would highly recommend this to anyone interested in history-especially WWII.

  29. 4 out of 5

    George

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This was an excellent read about "The Few" Americans that joined Great Britain to fly and fight against the Nazi's before America joined the WWII. Kershaw adds depth by including not only the American experience but also the accounts of the British and German pilots. The book contains many individuals and it's hard to keep them all straight. Yet, Kershaw's research was marvelous. This was an excellent read about "The Few" Americans that joined Great Britain to fly and fight against the Nazi's before America joined the WWII. Kershaw adds depth by including not only the American experience but also the accounts of the British and German pilots. The book contains many individuals and it's hard to keep them all straight. Yet, Kershaw's research was marvelous.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Roger

    Excellent - really felt like we're in the cockpit with them. Excellent - really felt like we're in the cockpit with them.

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