Neil Hanson. First Blitz: The Secret German Plan to Raze London to the Ground in 1918. London: Doubleday, 2008. This is a thick, new narrative history of the German air raids on Britain in the First World War, concentrating mainly on the aeroplane raids in 1917-8. Although written for a popular audience, it's based on a prodigious number of primary sources, both published and archival (there are plenty of periodical articles listed with which I'm not familiar, for example) -- some are even in German. This is all good! But I'm worried about that subtitle. Hanson argues that there was a plan to use Elektron incendiary bombs to burn out London in 1918, which seems plausible enough. A plan is one thing, but Hanson seems to think that it could have actually worked. Is that likely, when the more capable and numerous German bombers of 1940-1 didn't come close do doing this even on the worst nights of the Blitz? He also speaks of mass panic in London during air raids (346) ... well, as I say, he's read a lot of primary sources that I haven't, but not even the most extreme airpower advocates between the wars claimed that there had been mass panic, merely isolated cases which they quite happily extrapolated to a larger scale. Hmm. I still look forward to reading it, though.
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