Highly readable and engrossing ... does a marvelous job of weaving together the strategic planning, technical details, personal recollections, and battle narratives to provide a grim tale of sacrifice on both sides ... Holland’s insightful analysis of the Allied air force commanders is really noteworthy.
The story of Operation Argument – known from its own time and ever since simply as Big Week – receives what will surely be its most detailed and comprehensive popular history ... the kind of bolts-and-model numbers hyper-detailed account of the events, people, and aircraft that will give joy to any reader who specializes in this pivotal sliver of WWII ... Holland displays here a novelist's knack for description and capturing character ... will certainly act a the definitive detailed operational account of Operation Argument, and it doubles nicely as a tribute to men like Harris. Readers wanting an equally detailed examination of whether or not women and children actually can be viewed as 'legitimate targets for attack' will have to look elsewhere.
With the aid of diaries, memoirs and his own interviews, Mr. Holland gives a detailed, crewman’s-eye view of combat from inside the British, American and German aircraft during the months leading up to Big Week and during the week itself. For those hoping for war-movie stuff, rest assured that the enemy fighters do come in at 6 o’clock, the guns do hammer, the sun does glint and the ’chutes do blossom in the sky. Still, it’s a serious and important story as well as a dramatic one, and Mr. Holland tells it with verve and authority. Among the fruits of Mr. Holland’s research are his re-creations of the dangerous little worlds inhabited by the participants—most of them in their late teens or early 20s—while they were aloft ... Mr. Holland also re-creates the inner lives of the participants, from the joy of American crewmen in seeing comrades returning from the last of their required 25 missions (it gave hope to the others that they might live to the finish as well) to a Luftwaffe pilot, having bailed out, 'marvelling at what a wonderful invention the parachute was' ... In all, Mr. Holland relates, U.S. and British bombers during Big Week rained down 22,000 tons of bombs on the German aircraft industry and surrounding areas.
... a major work on an often overlooked event key to ending [World War II] in Europe ... Holland is a master of narrative. His combat scenes are crisp and evocative, and he does a masterful job of putting the reader in the cockpit with the men on all sides fighting this war. Anyone with more than a passing interest in WWII will find this book invaluable in understanding how the war was won and how many airmen sacrificed their lives to win the battle that led to victory. Men from both sides who lived (and often died) come alive through stories Holland skillfully coaxes from interviews, oral histories, diaries, and official records.
A highly detailed account ... The interplay of personal stories with the broader strategic picture makes the book especially illuminating, and the author also provides a few pages of helpful diagrams and maps ... A fascinating must-read for World War II aficionados.