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The Longest Night: The Bombing of London on May 10, 1941

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The Longest Night reveals the untold story of the horrific bombing raid that almost brought Britain to military collapse - using extensive survivors' testimony and previously classified documents to reveal just how close the Luftwaffe came to total victory. This vivid, dramatically told account depicts how fate shifted based on Hitler's mistaken belief that he'd actually l The Longest Night reveals the untold story of the horrific bombing raid that almost brought Britain to military collapse - using extensive survivors' testimony and previously classified documents to reveal just how close the Luftwaffe came to total victory. This vivid, dramatically told account depicts how fate shifted based on Hitler's mistaken belief that he'd actually lost the air war over Britain - and portrays the unsurpassed, "we-can-take-it" bravery of the British people when they'd been pushed beyond all human endurance.


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The Longest Night reveals the untold story of the horrific bombing raid that almost brought Britain to military collapse - using extensive survivors' testimony and previously classified documents to reveal just how close the Luftwaffe came to total victory. This vivid, dramatically told account depicts how fate shifted based on Hitler's mistaken belief that he'd actually l The Longest Night reveals the untold story of the horrific bombing raid that almost brought Britain to military collapse - using extensive survivors' testimony and previously classified documents to reveal just how close the Luftwaffe came to total victory. This vivid, dramatically told account depicts how fate shifted based on Hitler's mistaken belief that he'd actually lost the air war over Britain - and portrays the unsurpassed, "we-can-take-it" bravery of the British people when they'd been pushed beyond all human endurance.

30 review for The Longest Night: The Bombing of London on May 10, 1941

  1. 4 out of 5

    Gary

    This is fascinating and most educational documentary about the terrible night on 29 December 1940 in which the Nazis carried out a sustained bombing attack against London, targeting and almost destroying St Paul's Cathedral (which had burned down twice in its twenty year history) and scorching a mile of the city. Through a series of interviews, real footage and dramatic recreations, we get an idea of the terror, devastation and sacrifices which the ordinary people of London went through. And this This is fascinating and most educational documentary about the terrible night on 29 December 1940 in which the Nazis carried out a sustained bombing attack against London, targeting and almost destroying St Paul's Cathedral (which had burned down twice in its twenty year history) and scorching a mile of the city. Through a series of interviews, real footage and dramatic recreations, we get an idea of the terror, devastation and sacrifices which the ordinary people of London went through. And this is what makes this an incredibly pivotal book for anyone with an interest in these events, Should be studied is all schools when studying this period. Nazi Germany aimed to break the will of the British people but as a citizen of London who lived through the blitz tells us they underestimated the will and valour of the British people. The vicious incendiary bombing of London only strengthened their determination to fight on and their hatred of the Nazi evil. some really poignant and heartbreaking parts. A lot of young British people are not aware of the devastation caused by the blitz which makes this a truly important documentary. The British people may need to once again prove their metal, in an age of global terrorism and jihad Britain is suffering Islamic terror now - don not forget the 7 July London tube bombings the murder of Lee Rigby , the June 2017 London Bridge stabbing attack, and the May 2017 Manchester Arena attack where little girls were blown up and killed or maimed for going to see their favourite pop star.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Betsy

    One line from the book struck me especially. A surbivor of the terrible night of May 10, 1941, recalled, "I learned to hate the Germans." You can only understand why after reading about the horrors of that raid. The Germans were fighting a war, true, but for a regime that would have done the same to anyone who stood in their way. The book speaks of the tragic losses in lives and in history as buildings burnt down after standing for centuries. Hopefully, it will never happen again, and thankfully One line from the book struck me especially. A surbivor of the terrible night of May 10, 1941, recalled, "I learned to hate the Germans." You can only understand why after reading about the horrors of that raid. The Germans were fighting a war, true, but for a regime that would have done the same to anyone who stood in their way. The book speaks of the tragic losses in lives and in history as buildings burnt down after standing for centuries. Hopefully, it will never happen again, and thankfully the great city was able to survive.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Melissa McShane

    I finished this book exactly 75 years to the day after the events recorded. That was coincidence, but it did give the read a little more significance. This account of the most severe bombing London endured during the Blitz is told through the lives of its survivors, many of whom Mortimer interviewed. That gives it maybe too personal a touch, as he also recounts events through the eyes of people he couldn't possibly have met or known their thoughts. I also wish he'd cut down on the number of peop I finished this book exactly 75 years to the day after the events recorded. That was coincidence, but it did give the read a little more significance. This account of the most severe bombing London endured during the Blitz is told through the lives of its survivors, many of whom Mortimer interviewed. That gives it maybe too personal a touch, as he also recounts events through the eyes of people he couldn't possibly have met or known their thoughts. I also wish he'd cut down on the number of people he followed, because it was sometimes difficult to keep track of who was who. As a snapshot in time, however, it's poignant. I didn't realize just how many Londoners remained in their homes while the bombing went on, nor how much resentment there was by lower-class Londoners of those of the well-to-do whose homes (due to the pattern of German bombing) were rarely in danger. An interesting read if you want a glimpse of the war through the eyes of the people who lived it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Christie

    An engrossing account of the London blitz but as seen through the first responders, citizens and even those in the clergy. The citizens of London lived through night after night of bombing but found an inner strength to help them survive the loss and devastation. The personal accounts from so many of the survivors had a common theme of putting their fears aside and doing whatever they could to help out others in need of comfort, aide and support. After the worst night of bombing on 10 May 1941, An engrossing account of the London blitz but as seen through the first responders, citizens and even those in the clergy. The citizens of London lived through night after night of bombing but found an inner strength to help them survive the loss and devastation. The personal accounts from so many of the survivors had a common theme of putting their fears aside and doing whatever they could to help out others in need of comfort, aide and support. After the worst night of bombing on 10 May 1941, those same people put out fires, pulled survivors and victims from the wreckage and cleared debris and rubble from the streets to help emergency vehicles pass through. No one that survived that night knew that the worst was behind them and in retrospect, no one realized how close the people of London were to giving up. While reading this account I found it necessary to keep in mind that while this tragic story was about the London Blitz, the same story and worse, happened throughout Europe during this time of conflict. Towns were completely obliterated and countless innocent lives were lost on both sides of the war. For those interested, "Inferno: The Fiery Destruction of Hamburg, 1943" by Keith Lowe was an exceptional and heartbreaking account of the bombing and razing of an entire city.

  5. 4 out of 5

    ❀⊱RoryReads⊰❀

    Not bad, with lots of numbers and a long, boring, pointless account of a football match. There are some interesting stories here, including the memories of an actor from Fawlty Towers, however, there are a number books about the blitz that are far more compelling.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Blake Bouza

    The idea that the Blitz happened is always something I've known, but I wanted to UNDERSTAND it. I wanted to understand how people could live every day lives while bombs fell around them every night, friends and neighbors dying all around you, never sure if you're next or will make it to the next holiday. I expected this book to be informative, but I didn't expect it to be beautiful. Mr. Mortimer does a fantastic job highlighting the horrors of the Blitz to one night, May 10, while providing info The idea that the Blitz happened is always something I've known, but I wanted to UNDERSTAND it. I wanted to understand how people could live every day lives while bombs fell around them every night, friends and neighbors dying all around you, never sure if you're next or will make it to the next holiday. I expected this book to be informative, but I didn't expect it to be beautiful. Mr. Mortimer does a fantastic job highlighting the horrors of the Blitz to one night, May 10, while providing info on the larger state of things as it becomes necessary. He begins the book from the perspective of a Nazi general looking at a map of London and tracing the route his bombers would take with a finger. The rest of the book follows that path as Mortimer weaves into and out of the lives of everyday Londoners - cabbies, singers, firefighters, pilots, actors, and railwaymen. The military detail is as sharp as the human insights. I can't wait to read this book again, and it definitely scratched the big itch I've had for a while now about the Blitz.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Colleen

    A good POV book about the Blitz on this particular night, and really this night only for the most part. I recently saw a documentary about the Second Great Fire of London which was on Dec 29, 1940 and this book doesn't really reference earlier attacks much. It is totally centered around the experience of 24 people around London on May 10, 1941 and it's a very interesting read. Definitely made me wish I had asked my grandmother more about her WW2 experiences. It captures some amazing scenes on th A good POV book about the Blitz on this particular night, and really this night only for the most part. I recently saw a documentary about the Second Great Fire of London which was on Dec 29, 1940 and this book doesn't really reference earlier attacks much. It is totally centered around the experience of 24 people around London on May 10, 1941 and it's a very interesting read. Definitely made me wish I had asked my grandmother more about her WW2 experiences. It captures some amazing scenes on this night--with more than 2,000 fires, 11,000 buildings in ruin, and 3,000 dead and wounded. "Another bunch of incendiaries fell, just a few meters in front of a prostitute coming up from Piccadilly. "She had an umbrella up," said Ballard, "and she was singing 'I'm Singing in the Rain.' The only rain coming down was the incendiary bombs." The brave prostitues of London feature a few times in that evening's events--a bucket chain of them forming up to help put out fires, looting from the lingerie store (that they helped save so the owner was okay with it), and dying in large numbers as a series of brothels scored a direct hit. The sheer bravery and courage by all sorts of regular people is awe inspiring and this book does a good job to capture it in the recountings of firemen, ambulance drivers, the women manning the telephone and tea carts, and others.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tobias

    An amazing book which granularises the history of the blitz by zooming into a single night of May 10th 1941 - the worst night of the blitz. It tells the story of a hundred or so people scattered across the capital on that night and the gritty and horrific details of the bombs and fires they experienced. There is also memoirs from the Germans bombers and British fighter pilots who took part. The blitz as a whole has since become part of the subconscious memory of London as a city and its fascinat An amazing book which granularises the history of the blitz by zooming into a single night of May 10th 1941 - the worst night of the blitz. It tells the story of a hundred or so people scattered across the capital on that night and the gritty and horrific details of the bombs and fires they experienced. There is also memoirs from the Germans bombers and British fighter pilots who took part. The blitz as a whole has since become part of the subconscious memory of London as a city and its fascinating to see the lid lifted on this nightmare of 70 odd years ago.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Gibbs

    It took some time to get into this book, but once I did, I was hooked. There was a lot of detail, which at times was overwhelming, but there were plenty of stories about individuals that made up for it. While the description of the devestation of London was horrifying, the most haunting part for me was the epilogue - so many people were there in London, helping others through the chaos, fear, and unknown future, and yet many of them have passed on now. I highly recommend reading this book if you It took some time to get into this book, but once I did, I was hooked. There was a lot of detail, which at times was overwhelming, but there were plenty of stories about individuals that made up for it. While the description of the devestation of London was horrifying, the most haunting part for me was the epilogue - so many people were there in London, helping others through the chaos, fear, and unknown future, and yet many of them have passed on now. I highly recommend reading this book if you get the chance.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Marc

    Wow! Detailed is right. The author buried me in the minutae of the many people he tracks over that longest night. I knew a bit about the challenge that the Blitz represented but I had no idea really. But having said that, I'm not sure after about Chapter 14, how much more of the details were actually necessary to make the point. It just seemed to go on and on, one building fire after another, all more or less the same: incendiaries, fires everywhere, overwhelmed firemen, building burns to the gr Wow! Detailed is right. The author buried me in the minutae of the many people he tracks over that longest night. I knew a bit about the challenge that the Blitz represented but I had no idea really. But having said that, I'm not sure after about Chapter 14, how much more of the details were actually necessary to make the point. It just seemed to go on and on, one building fire after another, all more or less the same: incendiaries, fires everywhere, overwhelmed firemen, building burns to the ground. Still a good book if a bit overkilled.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Gerry Welsch

    Must admit I eventually had to skim many chapters. I am very interested in this topic but the presentation of the material was somewhat repetitive and boring. Book would benefit greatly from inclusion of maps for readers not familiar with all neighborhoods and landmarks. Photos of people mentioned were marginally compelling. More photos of areas impacted by bombing would be better.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Beth Cloues

    After reading The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson, I found this book on Bookbub. It is a good complement to the previous book mentioned. It makes clear the human cost of the battle through actual people’s experiences. As a coincidence, I finished it on the same day as the last major battle of the Blitz took place.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    very interesting...wish I knew London better to better understand the places he talked about.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Cathy M. Collins

    Review Point of view from Londoners during large German bombing raid of May 10, 1941. One of those things you just normally don't hear about. Review Point of view from Londoners during large German bombing raid of May 10, 1941. One of those things you just normally don't hear about.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Shane Hill

    Fantastic read about the deadliest night of the Nazi blitz on London!!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Robert Drumheller

    It is hard to imagine the horror of bombs being dropped around you. The book brings out the horror of warfare.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ted

    Rather complete anecdotal account of the heaviest bombing of London during the Blitz and the work of the fire brigades. May 10, 1941.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Juliana

    Lots of information is presented in this book, however it is constantly switching between stories which makes it hard to follow. I ended up skimming the second half of the book in order to finish it.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Julie Smith

    Interesting and a good insight into what Londoners endured during WWII. A little more detail than I cared for, describing but types of bombs etc. but nonetheless a good documentation of history.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Joy A. Ascher

    Intense,Compelling After reading this book,you become so immersed within it, that it's almost like you were there yourself. A most excellent book. Intense,Compelling After reading this book,you become so immersed within it, that it's almost like you were there yourself. A most excellent book.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    Unlike Blitz, which centered almost entirely on the ordinary British citizen living in London at the time of the German attack, The Longest Night is largely about the responders -- the firemen, wardens, airmen and watchers who tried to protect London from destruction. It is breath-taking reading, but nearly impossible to completely comprehend how the reader would feel faced with the same circumstances as words are inadequate to convey this human experience. Let's hope we are never faced with a Unlike Blitz, which centered almost entirely on the ordinary British citizen living in London at the time of the German attack, The Longest Night is largely about the responders -- the firemen, wardens, airmen and watchers who tried to protect London from destruction. It is breath-taking reading, but nearly impossible to completely comprehend how the reader would feel faced with the same circumstances as words are inadequate to convey this human experience. Let's hope we are never faced with a similar time. It is impossible to come away from these books, the Blitz and The Longest Night, without a feeling of awe and great respect for the people who literally fought in the streets for democracy and for their country. Quote: "...the city stood firm as the world looked on, even on the night of May 10, 1941, London's bloodiest and longest night. Perhaps it was also London's greatest night, the culmination a nine-month battle against fascism that ended with the symbol of the free world bruised, and battered, but unbeaten..."

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    This book I read last year on holiday- yes for me this was a great holiday read. I enjoyed the build up to the blitz during the time frame 10-11 may 1941. The focus was of the lives of the people that this timeframe were involved - Germans in their fighter planes planning and getting ready for the raid, the civilian people who were on firewatch, fire service, ARP wardens etc, and of course the ordinary people of London who got caught up in one of the worst nights of the war. The author carefully s This book I read last year on holiday- yes for me this was a great holiday read. I enjoyed the build up to the blitz during the time frame 10-11 may 1941. The focus was of the lives of the people that this timeframe were involved - Germans in their fighter planes planning and getting ready for the raid, the civilian people who were on firewatch, fire service, ARP wardens etc, and of course the ordinary people of London who got caught up in one of the worst nights of the war. The author carefully sets out the day and captures scenes of familiar London and as the story unfolds so does the terrifying blitz.I found the stories of trying to save buildings interesting and as I have read the London council bomb maps this gave me even more of an insight. I have read widely on this subject but this was by far the best, it was researched so well and the writing was thought out. If readers want to find out about this fateful night this is an extremely good read.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Graceann

    Please see my detailed review at Amazon Graceann's "Longest Night" Review" Overall, Longest Night was a disappointment. I live in the neighborhood described, and the descriptions were so scattershot and vague that I found myself constantly referring to a London A-Z Guide to get my bearings. My husband, who has lived here for 15 years, had similar problems, and he has a much better sense of direction than I. I'm still glad I read it for the eyewitness accounts and personal remembrances (for instan Please see my detailed review at Amazon Graceann's "Longest Night" Review" Overall, Longest Night was a disappointment. I live in the neighborhood described, and the descriptions were so scattershot and vague that I found myself constantly referring to a London A-Z Guide to get my bearings. My husband, who has lived here for 15 years, had similar problems, and he has a much better sense of direction than I. I'm still glad I read it for the eyewitness accounts and personal remembrances (for instance, one person remembered that the rescuers hated the sardine sandwiches served by the helpers, because sardines smelled too much like the deceased people they were removing from the buildings). Maps and closer attention to detail would have made this a five-star read, rather than only three.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Mader

    Apparently forgot to add this one--read in August, I think. This book tells the personal stories of a number of people who were in London that night--what it was like out in the streets, inside in the shelters, how things were afterward. Most mind-boggling to me was the matter-of-fact descriptions of the firefighters who were out all over the city trying to put out fires during the incessant bombing, including the struggles to access water. Also amazing were the people who ran the mobile canteen Apparently forgot to add this one--read in August, I think. This book tells the personal stories of a number of people who were in London that night--what it was like out in the streets, inside in the shelters, how things were afterward. Most mind-boggling to me was the matter-of-fact descriptions of the firefighters who were out all over the city trying to put out fires during the incessant bombing, including the struggles to access water. Also amazing were the people who ran the mobile canteens to help the firefighters and victims of the bombing--serving tea and biscuits. It was a bit chaotic reading it at times; I kept losing track of who was whom as the narration bounced from person to person--but I found it terribly interesting nonetheless. Three and half to four stars, mostly due to my interest in the subject matter. initially read August 2010. Re-read Jan 2011

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sandeep Chopra

    There is no doubt that the book has been in exhaustively researched and is very comprehensive. I however feel that the author could have cut down on the number of people he was following (and making us follow) in the book. Due to their sheer number, the book has had to compromise on the characters of these people, which somehow leaves the reader with a little more to be desired. This is a book about a very important and tragic historic event and, to some extent in the major part of the book, the There is no doubt that the book has been in exhaustively researched and is very comprehensive. I however feel that the author could have cut down on the number of people he was following (and making us follow) in the book. Due to their sheer number, the book has had to compromise on the characters of these people, which somehow leaves the reader with a little more to be desired. This is a book about a very important and tragic historic event and, to some extent in the major part of the book, the soul of that tragedy gets lost in the detail about the numerous people the author has followed. It is only toward the last few pages that the soul comes out but by then it is too late. Still, you cannot take away the comprehensiveness and the importance of this work.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Trenchologist

    Plays out something like a documentary, interweaving the events through personal experience, including victims on the ground, police & firewatch brigades, British air fighters, Germans command and their bombers. Gives a true sense of the weary pragmatism Londoners had adopted by this time and how, in this one night of such an intense, brutal blitzing, that pragmatism was jarred back to life, despair and ire. Fast, intelligent read that has you racing to read faster, has you caring about those in Plays out something like a documentary, interweaving the events through personal experience, including victims on the ground, police & firewatch brigades, British air fighters, Germans command and their bombers. Gives a true sense of the weary pragmatism Londoners had adopted by this time and how, in this one night of such an intense, brutal blitzing, that pragmatism was jarred back to life, despair and ire. Fast, intelligent read that has you racing to read faster, has you caring about those involved; breaks your heart as each suffers their losses and stands you back up with them, staggering, but undefeated.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Daisy

    As an American, I am ashamed to say, that I was never taught about the heroism, sacrifice, and horror our Allies in Great Britain (and especially in this case Londoners) faced during World War II. In a nine month period over 16,000 civilians died during the London Blitz. This book tells the story of the worst night of the Blitz, May 10th-11th of 1941 - the night that London burned. I highly recommend this book - especially to my fellow Americans who have never seen the horror of war in their own As an American, I am ashamed to say, that I was never taught about the heroism, sacrifice, and horror our Allies in Great Britain (and especially in this case Londoners) faced during World War II. In a nine month period over 16,000 civilians died during the London Blitz. This book tells the story of the worst night of the Blitz, May 10th-11th of 1941 - the night that London burned. I highly recommend this book - especially to my fellow Americans who have never seen the horror of war in their own backyard on such a massive scale. World War II really did produce "The Greatest Generation"!!!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Valerie

    This tells the story of the near destruction that London took from the Germans on May 10-11, 1941. What makes this story exceptional is that it is mostly told from the participants' perspective. Gavin Mortimer does not discuss any military strategy. This is not a scholarly history. However, if you are interested in seeing how the people of London reacted during this horrific time, then this is the book for you. This tells the story of the near destruction that London took from the Germans on May 10-11, 1941. What makes this story exceptional is that it is mostly told from the participants' perspective. Gavin Mortimer does not discuss any military strategy. This is not a scholarly history. However, if you are interested in seeing how the people of London reacted during this horrific time, then this is the book for you.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Wendy

    I think maybe the author introduced too many people's stories. I couldn't keep them straight so I stopped trying. Maybe if he had fewer people with more detailed stories I would have liked it more. The Blitz sounds horrifying but I don't think this book reflected how bad it could be. Or how good the people reacted. I think maybe the author introduced too many people's stories. I couldn't keep them straight so I stopped trying. Maybe if he had fewer people with more detailed stories I would have liked it more. The Blitz sounds horrifying but I don't think this book reflected how bad it could be. Or how good the people reacted.

  30. 5 out of 5

    John

    This book follows a number of characters and places before, during and after what is described as the worst night of the London Blitz. It was quite good and very detailed. I have to admit that I skimmed part of the middle bit only because all the bombing and fires got a bit repetitive.

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