This consequential work by a pioneer aviation historian fills a significant gap in the story of the defeat of France in 1940. Higham also more fully explains the Battle of Britain and its influence on the Luftwaffe’s invasion of the USSR. The author provides a comparative analysis of the French, German, and British air forces and then dissects their campaigns, losses, and replacement abilities. His research led to an important finding: the three air forces actually shot down only 19 percent of the number of aircraft claimed, and in the RAF’s case, 44 percent of those shot down were readily repairable, contrasting with only 8 percent for the Germans and zero for the French. Higham concludes that awareness of consumption, wastage, and sustainability were intimately connected to survival, and his book emphasizes the necessity of realistic assessments.
Robin Higham was a professor at Kansas State University for 35 years and served in the RAF as a pilot. The author of numerous books on aviation history, including Two Roads to War. Professor Higham passed away on 27 August 2015.
Praise for Two Roads to War:
“Unflinching Zeal is very much recommended [book for those] who seek in-depth history surrounding early World War II.”
— The Midwest Book Review, November 2012
“Higham, a doyen of air power history (100 Years of Air Power and Aviation), makes another significant contribution with this comparative analysis of French and British policies and developments between the world wars.”
— Publishers Weekly
“Two Roads to War is immensely readable, but it is also incredibly dense with fact. Robin Higham’s firsthand knowledge of the history of the period helps make this book an enduring masterpiece. Buy it; read it!
— Defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis
“Two Roads to War is simply magnificent—just riveting, and I really have enjoyed it. It is a singular contribution to the literature of interwar military aviation, and a work that establishes a new standard for historians studying that period.”
— Richard P. Hallion, Aerospace Historian
“Robin Higham’s comparative study of British and French aviation during the interwar period offers a comprehensive and thoughtful portrait of the efforts of two countries to meet the political, military, and industrial challenges posed by a young and rapidly developing technology. Filled with fascinating details, Two Roads to War does not shrink from drawing larger and provocative conclusions about the effectiveness of Britain and France. It is an impressive achievement.”
—Talbot Imlay, Université Laval (Québec, Canada), author of Facing the Second World War: Strategy, Politics, and Economics in Britain and France, 1938?1940