Please note, these questions contain SPOILERS, so be sure you’ve read the book before clicking on the links.
Discussion Guide on Trial and Tribulation
The Dynamics and Morality of Bombing
Suppose you had been a senior USAAF General or RAF Air Marshall in charge of the Allied bombing campaigns over Europe in 1943. You know that every time you send a fleet of bombers off to Germany, on average 5% will not come back, and, typically, 150 to 200 airmen in die. You know that the average crew and aircraft will only survive 10 missions. You know that far less than 1% of the bombs dropped on Germany will hit their targets. You know that almost all the people who die on the ground will be civilians.
Q: Will you keep sending off the missions? Why or why not?
Discussion Guide on A Slender Thread
The Structure of the Novel
The novel is structured in three parts, each presenting a different aspect of the Siege of Malta:
- Counterpunch: The relentless bombing of the island, its effects on the civilian population, and plans to strike back against the attackers
- Podium: The relief convoys fighting to reach Malta from Gibraltar bringing military and civilian supplies
- Pickpocket: The British attacks on Rommel’s supply convoys, and the strategic importance of denying Rommel the fuel, armaments and supplies he needed if he was to defeat the British 8th
Q: Each part shows a different aspect of warfare. Which strikes you as the worst or most brutal, and why?
Discussion Guide on Infinite Stakes
The Structure of the Novel
This novel has a complex structure. It is designed as a transcript of a TV interview taking place 70 years after the Battle of Britain, with Eleanor looking back through the years and remembering the events. But suddenly, as the interviewer’s questions trigger her memories, we are transported back into those events, inside Eleanor’s Point Of View. Moreover, we also see these events through Johnnie’s POV, which alternates with Eleanor’s.
Thus we have three POV’s looking at the same events:
- Eleanor’s TV comments about the significance of these events
- Eleanor’s 1940 POV from a strategic point of view
- Johnnie’s 1940 POV inside a Spitfire cockpit
Discussion Guide on Breaking Point
Eleanor was brought up to believe that her primary purpose in life was to find a good husband and to bear his children. All else was secondary, including her brilliant intellectual and academic accomplishments.
How have women’s views on their purpose in life evolved since Eleanor’s time? Have men’s views of women matched that evolution?
Eleanor’s first two relationships, to Rawley Fletcher and George Rand, were unsuccessful.
Discussion Guide on the Importance of History
Why bother with history, or World War II, or the Battle of Britain?
In this study guide John Rhodes discusses the nature of history, and why he writes about World War II and the Battle of Britain.
Let me begin by saying that history is complicated!
A simple definition of history is that it is the record of everything that happened in the past. The world today is therefore the cumulative sum of every event in our collective past—every good decision and good idea, every bad decision and bad idea, every intention and accident, every action and inaction, all melded together to form the world we live in today.