There are plenty of books about Reginald Mitchell's iconic Spitfire and several about the equally legendary BF109. This is the first I know of that covers the history of both.
The Spitfire and BF109 will always be remembered for their battles in the summer of 1940 but there is a little more to the tale than that.
After a brief history of the companies and people involved, David Isby chronicles the race between the British and Germans to get their new fighter into service, a race which the Germans won. He then moves onto the repeated clashes between the two: Dunkirk, the Battle Of Britain, the near-suicidal "Ramrod" missions over France, then campaigns in Malta, The Western Desert, Italy, Normandy and finally the last days of the war when Spitfires roamed freely over Germany itself.
There's even a brief chapter on the Spitfire's career under the Soviet banner.
"Decisive Duel" also covers the ongoing attempts by Supermarine and Messerscmitt to get more and more performance out of their warplanes and ever more aircraft coming out of the factory. A race the Germans eventually lost.
There's two things I require from a non-fiction book. "Is it interesting?" and "Does it tell me something I did not know?" This book manages both.
David Isby tells an intriguing story that blends together combat, enginering, political manouvering and the odd personal vendetta. As to the "Something I did not know" - plenty of that.
For instance, I didn't know that Messerschmitt were getting a big chunk of their labour force from the SS.
Yes, that means exactly what you think it does.
There's also some eye-opening stuff as to how badly the Germans were let down by their aircraft industry and their leaders.
I woke up one morning and decided that I needed a decent book about Spitfires. With this book I not only got a decent book about Spitfires but a decent book about the BF109 and the fascinating story of how the Luftwaffe was slowly, bloodily, worn down into defeat.
It's not cheap and at 575 pages it's not what you'd call light but "Decisive Duel" is well-worth a read.