Things are starting to happen with my forthcoming book, The Next War in the Air: Britain's Fear of the Bomber, 1908–1941, which is being published by Ashgate. The manuscript has just been proofread, the cover design is in the works, I have a marketing questionnaire to fill out. The book is now listed on the Ashgate website and in their First World War Centenary catalogue. Here's the book description:

In the early twentieth century, the new technology of flight changed warfare irrevocably, not only on the battlefield, but also on the home front. As prophesied before 1914, Britain in the First World War was effectively no longer an island, with its cities attacked by Zeppelin airships and Gotha bombers in one of the first strategic bombing campaigns. Drawing on prewar ideas about the fragility of modern industrial civilization, some writers now began to argue that the main strategic risk to Britain was not invasion or blockade, but the possibility of a sudden and intense aerial bombardment of London and other cities, which would cause tremendous destruction and massive casualties. The nation would be shattered in a matter of days or weeks, before it could fully mobilize for war. Defeat, decline, and perhaps even extinction, would follow. This theory of the knock-out blow from the air solidified into a consensus during the 1920s and by the 1930s had largely become an orthodoxy, accepted by pacifists and militarists alike. But the devastation feared in 1938 during the Munich Crisis, when gas masks were distributed and hundreds of thousands fled London, was far in excess of the damage wrought by the Luftwaffe during the Blitz in 1940 and 1941, as terrible as that was. The knock-out blow, then, was a myth.

But it was a myth with consequences. For the first time, The Next War in the Air reconstructs the concept of the knock-out blow as it was articulated in the public sphere, the reasons why it came to be so widely accepted by both experts and non-experts, and the way it shaped the responses of the British public to some of the great issues facing them in the 1930s, from pacifism to fascism. Drawing on both archival documents and fictional and non-fictional publications from the period between 1908, when aviation was first perceived as a threat to British security, and 1941, when the Blitz ended, and it became clear that no knock-out blow was coming, The Next War in the Air provides a fascinating insight into the origins and evolution of this important cultural and intellectual phenomenon, Britain's fear of the bomber.

Contents: Introduction; Part I Threats: Constructing the knock-out blow, 1908-1931;The bomber ascendant, 1932-1941. Part II Responses: Living with the bomber: adaptation; The only defence is in offence: resistance; Wings over the world: negotiation. Part III Crises: Defence panics and air panics; The German air menace: 1913, 1922 and 1935; Barcelona, Canton and London: 1938; The Battles of London: 1917 and 1940; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.

Most importantly, it now has an official price and publication date: £70 (hardcover) and June 2014 respectively (though they're different on Amazon in the UK and the US). There will also be ePUB and PDF editions.

Time to start saving up your pennies!

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at

11 thoughts on “Forthcoming

  1. Paul Gilster

    Well done, Brett! What a milestone, and what a pleasure it has been to watch the ideas discussed on this blog as the book developed. Looking forward to it.

  2. Another 'well done Brett' from here. Great news.

    It's not cheap, but that's probably a realistic price, given the print run and potential sales - shockingly not everyone is on the 'antique future fears' page, amazing though that is. I believe the price reflects Ashgate's approach, and they're not exploitative like some academic publishers we could mention.

    Great write up, can't wait to read it... I'll be buying one (but not from Amazon - did I already mention exploitation?) from Ashgate, were it's 63 quid on the website price, with that cash going to the people who brought the book to fruition. And it'll get signed too, I hope!

  3. Post author



    Hanging for the cover reveal.

    Yes, me too!


    A paperback edition hasn't been discussed (at least, not with me!) Ashgate do publish a few paperbacks, around a quarter or a third of the hardback price, but I'm not sure whether they are aimed at the textbook market (which this isn't -- I can't even promise to have a class of my own to use it in, not in the next couple of years) or are the result of promising hardback sales. So I'd say the chances are slim at this stage.


    Milestone is only one letter different from millstone, I observe :)


    Thanks, I forgot to mention that it's 10% off if ordered through the Ashgate website! As for signing, you'll have to get in line. It's a very short line, though!

  4. As long as the line doesn't stretch from here to New England.

    And here's a trade secret. Books signed by the author in bookshops can't be returned to the publishers, as others are - so get to those shops and sign, sign, sign!

  5. Neil Datson

    Congratulations Brett.

    As for JDK's comment: 'It’s not cheap, but that’s probably a realistic price, given the print run and potential sales' - Oh ye of little faith!

    J K Rowling had better look to her laurels.

  6. Post author

    Further generalised thanks!


    I'll be checking.


    I think Rowling can rest on her laurels, actually!


    That's a good idea! Everyone should do that now.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *