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Instructions for American Servicemen in Britain, 1942: Reproduced from the original typescript, War Department, Washington, DC (Instructions for Servicemen) Hardcover – September 1, 2004
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Little did they know that those seven pages, some six decades later, would be read aloud on bus routes in London as amusing historical relics for the entertainment of passengers.
Short, sweet, and hysterically funny to the modern ear, this books gives a very good view of how Americans saw the British people, both during WW2 and even now, by comparing how we saw them then to how we see them today. The book goes into everything, using clear language and astonishing detail for all its length: sports, weights and measures, monetary units, rationing. Some of the instructions bring home the fact that America was itself a drastically different place sixty years ago; some of it brings into stark relief that by the time the US entered the war, Britain had been involved for over two years already.
But perhaps what makes it so funny now is the language itself, since phrases have changed so drastically in the last sixty years, something quite ironically stated in the first few pages: "The British have phrases and colloquialisms of their own that may sound funny to you. You can make just as many boners in their eyes...."
It's also very amusing, as many reviewers have pointed out, and I imagine more amusing to current Brit readers than Americans. Unless an American reader is interested in history, I don't think they would understand a good portion of the content, and certainly not the importance of it. Without jets and the internet in those days, people in every country were more isolated then than we are now. Europeans had an advantage, because the countries are smaller (hence, easier to cross), and so many are so close together. They were/are more likely to have contact with people from other cultures. Americans didn't have that opportunity unless they were wealthy and could travel. Therefore, your average Joe from a mid-size city in the Midwest never considered the fact that English, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh people had a culture that was very different from ours. I could go on and on about that, but that wouldn't be a review of this book if I did.Read more ›
Bodleian Library, University of Oxford; 2004; 31 pp.
This is a charming book I received from a dear friend from Devonshire, England. It is a reproduction of an original pamphlet produced by the War Department in 1942. It was meant to give a brief introduction to Britain and its people and some words of advice to the servicemen shipping over to England to join the Allies in destroying Hitler. The writing comes across quaint and nostalgic from the modern perspective.
I actually did learn a little about the geography and demographics of England. The discourse on the characteristics of Britons as seen from the American viewpoint was relatively true to form, I believe, and sometimes humorous as well.
There is that mutual respect that exists today, even after war and history stories have passed on through the time.
I loved this book, because all the little things within are described perfectly - I can relate to most of them today. Like the British refer to movies as films and use the term "cinemas."
I like the reference to coffee and tea at the back of the book as well as inside the book. If you are visiting Britain today, this book still serves up a good reminder of why the British are reserved, but still friendly.
Check out the book today!!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Interesting what they taught our seervicemen before going over to Britain. And according to some of my British friends, not totally correct. Quick read and to the point. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Marianne Rose
Another wonderful booklet that shows what kind of conditions was present in Britain during the Second World War. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Andreas Michaelides
Just a fun, quick read - and a good gift for a soldier or a history buff.Published 13 months ago by Tina
Great insight into the lives of our servicemen during WWII and what they dealt with.Published 13 months ago by V Love
Just another perfect addition to the Bodleian series on soldiers away from home during WWIIPublished 14 months ago by Howard Wechsler
the content refers to a list of 'vocabulary' at the 'end'
and it's NOT included in this 2004 reproduction of the 1942 volume :(
disappointing as THAT part seems like it... Read more
An excellent perspective-gainer for both the US and Britain about the two different cultures during WWII.Published 20 months ago by Brandon