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Book Review: The Development of RAF Strategic Bombing Doctrine 1919-1939 (Scot Robertson)

8/12/2001 • Reviews, World War II Reviews

The Development of RAF Strategic Bombing Doctrine 1919-1939, by Scot Robertson, Praeger Publishers, Westport, Conn., $55.

The history of strategic bombing is inextricably intertwined with Britain’s Royal Air Force. This highly technical book explores the question of doctrinal development in the RAF, employing what the author terms a “neo-Clausewitzian analysis to reveal that the RAF based the preparation of its strategic bombing force on supposition and hypothesis.”

Author Robertson sets the controversy in motion by stating that, rather than objectively reviewing the evidence from World War I to determine the fundamental principles of “strategic” bombing, the RAF adopted a subjective approach. His bottom line is that Britain’s Bomber Command was incapable of carrying out a strategic bombing campaign because it failed in peace to develop the necessary doctrine to point the way to success in World War II. This is a heavy treatise and is not for the casual reader, but the serious historian should find the questions it raises worthy of serious consideration.

Arthur H. Sanfelici

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