Bomber County (Hamish Hamilton)
In early June 1943, James Eric Swift, a pilot with 83 Squadron of the Royal Air Force, boarded his Lancaster bomber for a night raid on Münster and disappeared. Ostensibly a narrative of the author's search for his lost grandfather through military and civilian archives and in interviews conducted in the Netherlands, Germany and England, Bomber County is also an examination of the relationship between the bombing campaigns of the Second World War and poetry, an investigation into the experience of bombing and being bombed, and a powerful reckoning with the morals and literature of a vanished moment.
The book’s publication triggered a torrent of reviews: critics have called it ‘an astonishing debut’, ‘precise and incisive’, ‘accomplished and moving’ and ‘a poetical work in itself’. A C Grayling described the book as ‘profound and beautiful’ and praised Swift’s ‘synoptic understanding and breadth of intellectual sympathy’.