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April 21, 1985|PAUL DEAN

A TIME FOR COURAGE: THE ROYAl AIR FORCE IN WORLD WAR II by John Terraine (Macmillan: $29.95). Whether the formation be a combat advance or peacetime trooping of colors, the British military's "right of the line" is a position reserved for the honored; the bravest, the senior, the most capable warriors. With this book it is suggested that the RAF (Britain's junior service by several centuries) be accorded the right of history's line for its transition from frantic blunderings in 1939 to thunderous supremacy in 1945 with all manner of heroic innovations and brazen conquests in between. Although certainly an air collegian's manual, this weighty book does some fine shredding of old propaganda and realignment of long-held images of Britain's wartime air leaders, the unapplauded heroes and the heralded victories that really weren't.

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