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Britain at War 1939 to 1945: What was life like during the war? Paperback – April 23, 2008
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'Members will be interested in BRITAIN AT WAR 1939 to 1945 what was life like during the war? by James Lingard (ISBN 9781434359339) which brings alive the harsh realities of life in Britain during the war - life full of uncertainty and the danger of impending death. It also provides 'a concise history of the salient campaigns in World War 2 ideal for anyone who lacks the time or inclination to study the larger works.' The Historical Association - a charity which supports teachers in primary and secondary education but also academics at all levels and anyone interested in history.
'A memoir of boyhood in Britain during World War II, this short but powerful book brings together personal reflections with the historical and political context. The author's memories are interwoven with quotations from Churchill's speeches and overviews of the major campaigns. 'Britain at War' is written from the standpoint of people directly involved, and all personal experiences are based on actual events.' UCL People (University College London) (March 2009)
'James Lingard's Britain at War 1939-1945 presents the reader with an excellent easy to digest overview of the key events that affected Britain during World War two. He has skilfully weaved personal accounts and his own experiences into the book to deliver a fascinating insight into the trials of civilian life in Britain at this key juncture in our nation's history.' History Direct and History Times (May 2009)
`A great book by James Lingard introduces the reader to the harsh realities of war.' --The Sunday Times of Canada,August 5, 2008
"Britain at War 1939--1945. For many older people the Second World War was the major event in their lives, but for the rest of us it is just history and it is hard to imagine what life was really like for them. In his book James Lingard tries to give us a picture of how a small boy saw life in the war interspersed with a potted history of the war to put things in context. He brings to life just how difficult it was to do even the most ordinary things in wartime such as travel from Bournemouth to Yorkshire. He also gives a graphic description of bombing raids and tells of how as a four year old boy he was nearly arrested as a spy just because he waved to a German plane. This book gives historically accurate facts and figures and cuts through the propaganda which was fed to the wartime public. I enjoyed this book giving as it does an insight into one person's war. I would have liked to find out what happened to the young James and his parents after the war. --The History Magazine, Spring 2009
`This book from James Lingard provides an accessible history of the Second World War from the standpoint of people directly involved. At the outbreak of war, the author was a young boy living in south London who later evacuated with his mother to her parents' house in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, while his father joined the Army. The author's personal recollections and stories are deftly interwoven with historical facts and figures to bring the period vividly to life.'
A memoir of boyhood in Britain during World War II, this short but powerful book brings together personal reflections with the historical and political context. The author's memories are interwoven with quotations from Churchill's speeches and overviews of the major campaigns. `Britain at War' is written from the standpoint of people directly involved, and all personal experiences are based on actual events.
Top customer reviews
I absolutely loved the two chapters that are personal memoirs of the author and wished he would have written more about his family's life during WWII.
The rest of the book must have required a lot of research, and I admire this effort. However, it reminded me of mandatory memorizing of dates and numbers in history classes. So it wasn't for me.
I would recommend this book to readers with military background and/or interest in military details.
I would like to encourage the author to write more memoirs or non-fiction narrative tales of his family's experiences. I would love to read them.
The blurb for the book says that it "gives a short insight into the horrors of the home front told from the perspective of someone who actually experienced them, a fascinating look at the harsh realities of life in Britain, life full of drama and the danger of impending death. How did a family with a small child caught up in such a war survive? There follows an overview of the major campaigns in World War II, giving an insight into the big picture, enlivened by personal experiences and quotations from Churchill."
What attracted me to the book was the promise that it would give an insight into the horrors of the home front from the perspective of someone who actually experienced them as a young boy. And it does do this, but this section of the book is far too short, and the overview of the major campaigns section is far too long as this section is not detailed enough for anyone with even a cursory interest in the history of WWII.
Having said that, the two separate parts of the book are very well written. It's just that both are too brief and not detailed enough for my own tastes. If you are only looking for a quick look at life in Britain during the war, or a very short summary of the major campaigns of the war, add an extra two stars to my rating.
BTW I did notice that the PDF edition I received has only 86 pages, so perhaps there is more detail in the Kindle and paperback editions, which are said on Amazon to have 148 and 150 pages respectively, or perhaps it just that the pagination is different in the different formats, but a difference of almost 75% is hard to believe is due simply to pagination.
So exclaims author James Lingard's mother at the beginning of the murderous world conflict that would ultimately claim millions of lives on both sides of the Atlantic -- and indeed, from both allies and foes alike.
As a young boy in Britain during the critical war years of 1939 through 1945, Lingard and his mother and father endured many hardships and constantly lived in peril, as did all of the U.K.'s citizenry. This is his excellent story, well-researched for historical accuracy, but highly personalized to maintain the interest of even the most casual reader.
Recalling his first air raid, Lingard tells us the first words of an air raid warden, who had been looking for them while they huddled in a nearby wood -- survivors of a picnic dangerously interrupted:
"I was about to say you should have been in your shelter. But the shelter received a direct hit. There's no trace of it. Just a huge crater. You'd all have been blown to smithereens."
It is war's capriciousness in dealing out life and death that the author documents so eloquently in this book. Bombs fall in regular and terrifying numbers. The nation's leaders come dangerously close to making disastrous decisions. And the stalwart British people do what they must to survive yet another day.
On a trip to the shore, Lingard waves happily to a low-flying airplane. Its German pilot waves back. And the small boy narrowly escapes arrest as a spy.
Lingard's mother frequently listens to the wireless for war news, but is often more captivated by music such as "Run Rabbit Run," played at a fast tempo to speed up production in the factories.
"We still had no effective answer to the German might. Hitler's bombers continued to harass us, and he tried his utmost to starve us into submission. In the period May to December, 1940, the enemy sank 745 merchant vessels with a gross tonnage of over three million tons. On 17th to 19th October, German U-boats sank 33 ships, twenty of which were in one convoy . . ."
It is this very attention to detail -- combined with the book's inherent human interest -- that elevates it above so many books about World War Two. For me personally, it put a very real face on a dark period in civilized history -- a period which I, like so many others of my Baby Boomer generation, only experience through watching dry documentaries on The History Channel.
How refreshing, then, to have this warm and intimate look inside a great nation's stalwart struggle against almost insurmountable odds -- and to rejoice with the author at its ultimate survival.
Five stars to Britain at War, and a hearty recommendation to librarians everywhere to acquire a copy so future generations can become enlightened.
The quotes are perfectly placed and add that needed emotion while reading the dryer details of war. It actually helps keep the reader interested instead of skipping those pages. There are many things that Mr. Churchill did in his political career that I disagree with. However, there are also things I think he handled in an impressive manner. Using him for the majority of the quotes was a brilliant way to “live” this story like you were actually there.
The book is well researched and well formatted. There were a few of the statistics that really surprised me. I have read a lot about World War Two and I was surprised to find new information. These added details really help the reader understand the immense strategy and luck that kept Britain from being invaded.
To see my full review, check out my blog AlliesOpinions on WordPress!
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