Battle of the Beams by Tom Whipple

$35.00 Inc GST

Winining the war of the air and airwaves turned the tide of World War II. This is the story of the brilliant, maverick engineer Reginald Jones who made that possible.

Summer 1939. War is coming.

The British believe that, through ingenuity and scientific prowess, they alone have a war-winning weapon- radar. They are wrong. The Germans have it too.

They believe that their unique maritime history means their pilots have no need of navigational aids. Flying above the clouds they, like the seafarers of old, had the stars to guide them, and that is all that is required. They are wrong. Most of the bombs the RAF will drop in the first years of the war land miles from their target.

They also believe that the Germans, without the same naval tradition, will never be able to find targets at night. They are, again, wrong. In 1939 the Germans don’t just have radar to spot planes entering their airspace, they have radio beams to guide their own planes into enemy airspace.

War is coming, and it is to be a different kind of war. It will be fought, as expected, on land and sea and in the air. It will also be fought on the airwaves. It will be fought between scientists on both sides at the forefront of knowledge, and the agents and commandos they relied on to bolster that knowledge.

Luckily there was one young engineer, Reginald Jones, helping the British government with their own scientific developments. In June 1940, when Jones quietly explained the beams the Germans had devised to a room full of disbelieving sceptics, Churchill later described the moment as like sitting in the parlour while Sherlock Holmes finally reveals the killer. Churchill immediately supported Jones’s efforts to develop radar technology that went on to help the Allies win the war.

Relying on first-hand accounts from Reginald Jones as well as papers recently released by the Admiralty, The Battle of the Beams fills a huge missing piece in the canon of WW2 literature. It is a tale that combines history, science, derring do and dogged determination and will appeal as much to fans of WW2 history as to those fascinated by the science behind the beams that changed our lives.

The radio war of 1939-45 is one of the great scientific battles in history. This is the story of that war.

About the Author: Tom Whipple is the science editor at The Times. He covers everything from archaeology to zoology. He writes news, features, reviews and commentary across the paper, as well as appearing regularly on Times Radio. He joined the paper in 2006, shortly after graduating with a degree in mathematics.
During the course of his job he has visited the tunnels below Cern and the top of Mont Blanc above it. He has seen the inside of the world’s hottest sauna and the world’s most irradiated nature reserve. He has interviewed Stephen Hawking and Jedward. He has been arrested in three different countries.
As well as The Times, he has written for the Guardian and The Economist. He was named science journalist of the year for his coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic.


Additional information


Paperback / softback


History of science

Readership Level

Tertiary Education (US: College)



Date of Publication

20 Nov 0505

The Battle of the Beams: The secret science of radar that turned the tide of WW2 by Tom Whipple ISBN 9781787634145

Please note: This title is temporarily out of stock or not yet published. Check with us for estimated arrival date.

SKU: 9781787634145 Categories: ,