Adventures in Bookland: Scramble by Norman Gelb

Scramble by Norman Gelb

The subtitle to Scramble is ‘a narrative history of the Battle of Britain’ and, I must admit, I completely misunderstood what that meant. I expected a history of the Battle of Britain from its beginning with the fall of France to its end in the Blitz: the bread and butter of historical writing. What I actually got was a selection of interviews, excerpts from memoirs and reminiscences by the men and women who actually fought the battle, with a little bit of linking commentary by Norman Gelb.

So rather than straight history it was more personal, rawer and less refined than the sort of stuff professional historians prefer to write, but as a result much more immediate and visceral. I suspect only someone who has been caught in a Hurricane, on fire, with the canopy stuck can have any idea of what that is like: in this book you will find a man who does know exactly what that was like. So if you like your history unfiltered, this is the history of the Battle of Britain for you.


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