<b>The Yanks who joined Britain's battle</b>January, 1940. England would fall. Everyone in America knew it. The Germans were too powerful. Hitler's Luftwaffe had too many planes, too many pilots and too many bombs. Besides, Hitler was Europe's problem, not America's Congress had passed the Neutrality Act; Americans were to stay out of the conflict, or else. But when the war began, eight American men decided that despite the odds, despite Congress and despite the isolationist public, they would join the fight. With the FBI on their trail, these men left America to become fighter pilots for the Royal Air Force. Before the year was out, they would be part of Churchill's few, the handful of heroes who defended Great Britain against the overwhelming might of the Luftwaffe, and won.
In <b>The Few: The American Knights of the Air Who Risked Everything to Fight in the Battle of Britain</b>, Alex Kershaw tells the story of these brave men, delving into the American pilots' letters, journals and memoirs, as well as the remembrances of families and friends, to reveal the acts of heroism and personal sacrifice they made to fight an evil their nation was not yet willing to acknowledge.
Kershaw's account is fascinating, moving at a rapid pace, particularly in the harrowing combat scenes. Yet for all the action, Kershaw does not sacrifice the factual record; his combat passages are derived from pilots' reports, with results that are both compelling and uncompromisingly real. Kershaw skillfully moves between the danger in the sky and the strategy in the rooms of state, giving the reader an excellent feel for the precarious situation, both for the pilots and the world.
The Few is a record of both heroism and loss only one of the American volunteers would survive the war. Yet their courage helped convince a reluctant American public that the fight could be won, and that America had a part to play in the battle. <i>Howard Shirley is a writer in Franklin, Tennessee.</i>