Book Review: The Many Not The Few: The Stolen History of the Battle of Britain


by Richard North

London & New York: Bloomsbury USA, 2013. Pp. xvi, 436. Illus., notes, biblio., index. $30.00. ISBN: 1620401002

A Revisionist View of the Battle of Britain

Political analyst and defense blogger North gives us a rather iconoclastic view of the Battle of Britain.  His argument is that the image of a united Britain confronting the Hitlerian assault alone through the efforts of handful of brave young pilots is not only wrong, but largely fabricated.  This is not exactly a revelation, as the received narrative has been challenged for some years now, in works such as Anthony J. Cumming’s The Royal Navy and the Battle of Britain, Fred Leander’s River Wide, Ocean Deep, or Peter Stansky’s The First Day of the Blitz

North does, however, go more deeply into the subject than previous revisionist treatments.  While he discusses the role of the RAF, and gives full credit to those brave young pilots, he also adds the warts papered over by wartime censorship, such as the initial lack of an air-sea rescue service, and he takes into account the Royal Navy, which held the sea lanes open and was prepared to contest an invasion, and the merchant marine, which sustained the flow of materiél and food. 

North’s his great contribution, however, is to look at the role of the people of Britain in the fight; shipyard workers and longshore men, civil defense workers and fire fighters, factory hands and farmers, and just ordinary citizens, all of whom had a role to play.  North includes a look at domestic politics, the forging of a unified front which mixed determination to win the war with a debate on the postwar world.  And, of course, he discusses Churchill’s role not only in leading the fight, but also in the shaping of the traditional narrative, though he overlooks the effect of the fog of war on the development of the narrative. 

The Many, Not the Few is an important work for those interested in the Battle of Britain or the war in the aftermath of the Fall of France.

Reviewer: A.A. Nofi, Review Editor   

Buy it at



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close