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Debs at War: 1939-1945 [Kindle Edition]

Anne de Courcy
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £9.99
Kindle Price: £6.99 includes VAT* & free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet
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Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
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Book Description

An extraordinary account - from firsthand sources - of upper class women and the active part they took in the War

Pre-war debutantes were members of the most protected, not to say isolated, stratum of 20th-century society: the young (17-20) unmarried daughters of the British upper classes. For most of them, the war changed all that for ever. It meant independence and the shock of the new, and daily exposure to customs and attitudes that must have seemed completely alien to them. For many, the almost military regime of an upper class childhood meant they were well suited for the no-nonsense approach needed in wartime.

This book records the extraordinary diversity of challenges, shocks and responsibilities they faced - as chauffeurs, couriers, ambulance-drivers, nurses, pilots, spies, decoders, factory workers, farmers, land girls, as well as in the Women's Services. How much did class barriers really come down? Did they stick with their own sort? And what about fun and love in wartime - did love cross the class barriers?

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Product Description


A tale of derring-do, make do and make-up... De Courcy reveals the innocence and bravery of these young women. (EXPRESS)

DEBS AT WAR covers a quirky and original subject and tells some cracking human interest stories. (HAM & HIGH)

an irresistible account of high spirits, derring-do and real old-fashioned bravery (EVENING STANDARD)

Book Description

How wartime changed the lives of the most sheltered section of British society

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 11683 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson; New Ed edition (20 Dec. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00AJ20MGQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #138,575 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gives you what novels can not 5 Jan. 2007
I have found this to be an amazing book. It contains the lives of real women who went from living in unbelievable luxury (or not in the case of some - grand homes and titles did not automatically mean luxury) to how they played their parts in the war, often in menial, dirty, usually risky if not downright dangerous jobs. All because their fathers, brothers and all the young men they knew were doing their bit - so the girls were going to make damned sure they did their bit too. Diaries and interviews are quoted - this book goes from childhoods through to the Debs seasons, call up (more usually volunteering), the various jobs they did; all the while trying to keep in touch with their friends and boyfriends. Terribly innocent about sex, lesbianism, childbirth, cooking, they went from filthy jobs to eating at the Ritz - often still in uniform or overalls. To say that I am impressed by what they did is a total understatement. I really don't know whether we would meet our country's need in such a way today.

This book, because it calls on the experiences of so many young women, gives an impression of living through the war years in a way I've never come across before. The amount of detail in it is impressive, and even though it is based on the experiences of upper-class young women, there is a huge amount of general social history here. Totally fascinating. Thank you
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real insight into a lost generation 21 Aug. 2009
What a fascinating read this is. I was impressed by the courage, ingenuity and adventurousness of these women who had no training for the world in which they suddenly found themselves.

Their tales are gently funny, often sad and always inspirational, and give a real insight into a lifestyle and era that have been lost forever.

A must-have for any woman's bookcase.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down 8 Aug. 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Just finished this book and wish there were more to read. This book isnt about the life of a Deb, but rather what the war was like according to Debs. Peppered with wonderful anecdotes from Debs who Anne de Courcy has interviewed (one who was terrified of one day having to make a cup of tea as he had heard it was awfully complicated) the book explains what it was like to come from a world of privilege and strict social norms and suddenly find yourself part of the war effort. And it also explains why so many of them loved their time during the war. I had heard similar stories from my family so was fascinated to read more. As always, Anne de Courcy writes in a way that is so easy and enjoyable to read that - as I said in my review for her other excellent book, the Last Season - I only wish my school history teacher had managed to make history so fascinating - then perhaps I wouldn't have dropped it as a subject quite so early on!
I'm also incredibly grateful to her for having taken the time to record so many stories from people (women) who are sadly part of an ever diminishing generation but from whom we have so much to learn.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book about British History 18 Sept. 2005
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"Debs at War" by Anne De Courcy was great book. Ms. De Courcy tells the truth stories about debutantes, who when war came their whole lives changed. These young women many who had never been away from home, now found themselves doing jobs that they could not had thought they could do.
This was a great book about women and how the war changed a whole generation.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow - absolutely fascinating. 21 April 2011
I bought this book about a year ago, after I came across a similar book in the library, then I found this at a well-known bookshop and thought it would be an interesting read.

Well, I was right. From first glance, you think it will be either a "Women at War" book with lots of boring historical information and not much else or a "Debs" book with a passing gloss over their "war efforts".

How refreshing to see that not only were the Debs' lives before the War and their coming out seasons detailed in the first few chapters but then also their War efforts gone into. You could literally see the transformations of these young women, most of whom, had been taught to shoot or fish when they were young doing nothing but weren't expected to amount to much when older, beyond marriage and raising a family. So see their lives blossom into much needed and worthwhile war work which these women enjoyed, relished, looked forward to and missed when it ended really was amazing. Anne De Courcy really covered her chapters well and included just the right snippets/detail to make the book a fascinating page-turner.

Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Debs at War by Anne de Courcy 15 Nov. 2010
This was an interesting and enjoyable book. It certainly helped me to understand the role of all women during the Second World War, not just that of debs. There were many amusing anecdotes, too. It wasa relatively easy read, not too heavy, with some good illustrations.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Debs at war 22 Sept. 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a gem of a book. I was looking for a book for an absorbing holiday read and found this fitted the bill really well. Beautifully written about a subject which is so interesting. It was an absorbing collection of personal accounts of personal lives and a history lesson rolled int one. I frequently read parts of it out loud to my husband as it was too interesting and amusing in places to keep to myself. I found it very enlightening around the social history of this country Definitely a book to give as a gift as it is totally absorbing and informative.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars debs @ war
very, very interesting. quite fragmented, which may bother some readers, but one can easily see the difficulty in structuring a field of info this vast. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Zangiku
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read.
I enjoyed reading this book. It was very informative with many surprising revelations. I found the style of writing rather bitty and going backwards and forwards to the same... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Dancing Queen
4.0 out of 5 stars Recommended!
Really interesting and gives a great insight into what these women did for the war effort. Well worth the read. Have recommended it to various people already!
Published 5 months ago by Sweetpea
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
this was an excellent read, & very correct, thankyou
Published 6 months ago by p.edwards
3.0 out of 5 stars Good read
It was very interesting
Published 8 months ago by W. Jack
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent. Arrived on time.
Published 9 months ago by R Victoria Taylor
5.0 out of 5 stars History at its best
It was a super read for me, all about the posh people in the war, gave a good impression of how they really helped, we all came together as a nation in ww11 it was marvelous
Published 11 months ago by alice
5.0 out of 5 stars Anne does it again - an intriguing subject nicely explored
Fascinating insight into a lost world of high society. Anne de Courcy has such a great narrative style, making this an easy read, packed with reminiscences from those stalwart... Read more
Published 12 months ago by anne hedley
5.0 out of 5 stars Debs at War - gift to elderly lady
I gave it to another as a present. They enjoyed the book as it was part of an era they grew up..
Published 13 months ago by Myrtle Johnston
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting
I really enjoyed this insight into a world now passed. It also gave an insight into the lives of women from a select group in society, and the contributions they made to the war... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Mrs. Sa Oram
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