Hitler's Rockets: The Story of the V-2s
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
Review Date: 1 Mar 2010
Civilians in Britain, particularly in the greater London area, had suffered from attacks from the air since the Blitz early in the war, and had been toughened to deal with such destruction, even when they came in the form of flying bombs. But when the rockets came, approaching nearly at the speed of sound and nearly impossible to react against, the people were truly horrified. Norman Longmate's Hitler's Rockets provided a detail view of the rockets, encompassing the German research, the British politics, and the attacks that told the complete story. Although the rockets were deemed relatively ineffective, as already noted by my colleague Morgan Bell above, the V-2 rockets, ethics of war aside, were weapons that the Germans could still use to attack deep into enemy territory even as German lines were steadily pushed back since the Normandy invasion. Longmate effectively told the horrors that the British people endured with this book, detailing a great many of the major incidents, in many cases noting the exact location of the explosions and including many eye-witness accounts. The author's writing was also effective, narrating his story in a straight-forward manner while keeping me engaged in the chapters that he was presenting.
The destruction caused by the V-2 rockets were small in comparison to that caused by convention bombing. While stories of Dresden and Kobe are better known for justifiable reasons, the history of these early rockets should not be forgotten, for had Germany had these weapons in 1939 instead of 1944, the cost of Allied victory might had been much greater. Hitler's Rockets is a highly recommended work for a look into the history of the German rocket program and the horror the rockets brought.
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