Bombs, 'Bomber', and bombers (among other aircraft)....continue reading
Group biography, airport architecture, and a campaign history. (If it wasn't obvious by now, I'm selecting these books completely at random!)...continue reading
A definite Australian flavour this time, from the Empire Air Training Scheme (as the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan usually isn't known as) to whatever happened after the Empire Air Training Scheme. Plus the book of a certain aviation history blog (remember blogs? Me neither)....continue reading
2023 will mark 120 years since the first controlled heavier than air flight, and 240 years since the first more or less controlled lighter than air flight. Much more importantly, it's also the year in which I am going to get my ever-growing stack of to-be-read aviation history books under control! I can't promise that I will only read aviation history books this year, but I will mostly. And in the spirit of accountability (as well as content generation), I'm going to list and reflect on what I read here on Airminded (apart from what I'm reading for strictly research purposes, anyway). Starting now......continue reading
A few years back, my article 'William Le Queux, the Zeppelin menace and the Invisible Hand' was published in Critical Survey, with the following abstract:
In contrast to William Le Queux's pre-1914 novels about German spies and invasion, his wartime writing is much less well known. Analysis of a number of his works, predominantly non-fictional, written between 1914 and 1918 shows that he modified his perception of the threat posed by Germany in two ways. Firstly, because of the lack of a German naval invasion, he began to emphasise the more plausible danger of aerial attack. Secondly, because of the incompetent handling of the British war effort, he began to believe that an 'Invisible Hand' was responsible, consisting primarily of naturalised Germans. Switching form from fiction to non-fiction made his writing more persuasive, but he was not able to sustain this and he ended the war with less influence than he began it.
While you're waiting for me to write Home Fires Burning, here are some other books (mostly) on the same topic, whether wholly or in substantial part. This is not meant to be in any way a comprehensive list; it's merely what I have found to be most useful. I've included links to out-of-copyright/open access versions, where available....continue reading
So I'm writing a book. Why? There are already many histories of the German air raids on Britain in the First World War: in my proposal, I listed eleven published since the 1980s alone, and even that is hardly exhaustive. Many of these are excellent -- Ian Castle's books, in particular, are required reading on this topic -- and I would not add to the pile unless I felt I could add something original. So what will make Home Fires Burning different? Why should anyone want to read it? Here's the (lightly-edited) rationale I gave in my proposal:...continue reading
I am delighted to announce that I have signed an advance contract with Cambridge University Press to publish my next book, currently entitled Home Fires Burning: Emotion, Spectacle, and Britain’s First War from the Air, in their Studies in the Social and Cultural History of Modern Warfare series. Here's a one paragraph teaser from the (successful!) book proposal:
Home Fires Burning is the first book to provide a broader understanding of the German air raids on Britain between 1914 and 1918—the first to go beyond the purely physical impact of the bombs to show how the spectacle they created and the emotions they invoked shaped British culture and society. It describes not only what happened during the air raids, but also what happened before them, and after, how they were anticipated and how they were remembered. And it will explain how bombing transformed Britain from a place of peace to a place of war: a home front in a total war.
So Home Fires Burning will be both a logical extension of my previous work, and something quite original (and, I think, very necessary!) I'm busy completing the manuscript, and I'll have much more to say here about my plans and progress over the next couple of years. There's a lot to do; I'd better get on with it!
Image source: Graphic (London), 24 April 1915, 518.
The time has finally come to address the claim I've made in the title of this series of posts, that the air raid somehow vanished. Why did I say that, and what does it mean? Well, look at the plot above. Previously I looked at how often 'air raid' (and related phrases) appeared per issue in the British Newspaper Archive (BNA) in each month across the First World War. The above plot, now, is how often 'air raid' appeared per issue in each year from the start of the First World War (when 'air raid' was first used) until the end of the Second. Now you can see that the first peak in 'air raid''s popularity came in 1917, at an average of 0.8 mentions in every newspaper issue in BNA; and that this was followed by a second, much bigger peak in 1940 of 5.2 mentions in every newspaper issue in BNA. All of which makes sense.
What's more surprising is what happened in between. From 1921 to 1934, the phrase 'air raid' almost completely disappears from BNA. At the lowest point, 1929, the average number of mentions per issue was just 0.026, or one in about 38. In other words, if you read 38 issues you might expect to read the phrase 'air raid' once, which is more than six weeks of reading a daily. If you want some absolute figures, 'air raid' appears 609 times in the 23054 issues contained in BNA for 1929. So 'air raid' was not a phrase you were at all likely to see in a newspaper in the 1920s and early 1930s....continue reading