Title Image

Finest Hour

Finest Hour

Seventy years ago, Europe lay at Hitler’s feet. Britain faced its darkest hour – outnumbered and friendless as the German army continued its advance. Defeat or capitulation seemed inevitable. But instead a legend was born.

Taking its readers on a breathtaking journey from open lifeboats in Atlantic gales to the cockpits of burning fighter-planes, and through cities devastated by the Blitz, FINEST HOUR recreates the terror, the tragedy and the triumph of the Battle of Britain.

This powerful account of the events of 1940 is told through the voices, diaries, letters and memoirs of the men and women who lived, loved, fought and died during this terrible yet inspiring year.

FINEST HOUR also contains a provocative analysis of key turning points, and questions some cherished national myths. Cutting through the nostalgic haze, this book enables readers to experience a time – still within living memory – when a nation’s darkest hour became its finest.


Daily Mail

'Beautifully made . . . Achingly vivid . . . The authors have a feel for the uncertainty, for the unkowability of the outcome . . . A book in period clothes but wearing modern make-up.'


'Compelling . . . Mesmerizing stuff.'

Sunday Telegraph

'In 1940, the first full year of the Second World War, Britain was on the verge of being occupied. The German forces had swept west, pushing the British and French to Dunkirk, and invasion by Germany seemed inevitable. The Battle of Britain turned the tide. This book . . . tells the story of that year in the words of the ordinary people caught up in the war – pilots, soldiers, sailors, drivers, secretaries, nurses and civilians. Using interviews, diaries, letters and memoirs, the story is told with an immediacy that fiction could not achieve.'

Sunday Times

'Manages to construct the tale in such a way that it breaks free of the text-book approach . . . Compiled with a pace that could put a lot of thrillers to shame.'

Time Out

'From fighter-pilots risking their lives in the skies above England, to squaddies stranded at Dunkirk, to schoolgirls sent abroad to Canada (the book is worth buying just for Bess Walder's account of horror and redemption aboard the City of Benares), this is riveting.'

Sunday Express

'The authors’ approach has a warmth and immediacy about it which provides a clear but gripping view of Britain’s darkest hour.'

Air Mail – Journal of the RAF Association

'Astonishing stories of courage and survival . . . digs beneath the time-worn legend of stiff-upper-lip English pluckiness to show a far more complex, more human and more moving picture of the human spirit under duress.'

Washington Post

'A wonderful oral history of Great Britain during the Dunkirk evacuation and the Battle of Britain in the tradition of Stephan Ambrose; recommended for all collections.'

US Library Journal

'What incredible stories these are . . . By skilfully weaving these personal recollections into a broader account of political and military strategy, Clayton and Craig make the story of this decisive engagement come alive. '

Christian Science Monitor

'That there is nothing ordinary in these stories is very soon clear . . . Its intimacy is, indeed, the great strength of this work.'

Wall Street Journal

'A remarkable story of determined, against-the-odds resistance . . . you have to search long and hard to find one with this kind of richness in the reporting and craftsmanship in the telling.'

Chicago Herald Tribune


11th January 2015