The Birth of the RAF 1918 by Richard Overy – Published by Allen Lane, 1 March 2018
Published to mark the centenary of the founding of the RAF, the publisher describes this book as “a short, brilliant account full of new and surprising material, by one of Britain’s most distinguished historians”.
Having read it, I don’t feel there’s much I can add to that description.
There is so much I could draw out here but I urge you to read the book for yourself. I’ll confine myself to noting that the formation of the RAF, and the slightly later WRAF, share their centenary year with the introduction of votes for (some) women. It’s incredible nowadays to realise that the women servicing engines for the forces were not amongst those able to influence the future of the political landscape.
Thought provoking, well written and by turns astonishing, intriguing and frequently unbelievable, especially in terms of progress from the first powered flight in Britain in 1908 to the formation of the RAF only ten years later and thence to their widespread use.
In any field, dIstinguished experts aren’t always the most skilled at addressing an audience which is not necessarily well informed, or people like me, with only a marginal interest in a topic. Therein lies the author’s strength: he makes the complex, easy to understand and the context, fascinating. Above all he makes history relevant and sets the scene for what followed in both wartime and peace.