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Demobbed: Coming Home After World War Two [Paperback]

Alan Allport
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
RRP: 10.99
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Book Description

6 Aug 2010
Snapshots of gaiety and celebration - the street parties, the victory speeches - are how some people today think of Britain in 1945. But the years following the end of World War II were far from a golden age of pride and self-confidence. The country was troubled though triumphant, subject to continued rationing and political change. Wracked by social disorder, austerity and disillusion, Britain was exhausted - and it was the return of those men who had fought for their country who seemed to be a root cause of the trouble. Demobbed is the real story of what happened when millions of ex-servicemen returned home. Most had been absent for years, and the joy of arrival was often clouded with ambivalence, regrets and fears. Returning soldiers faced both practical and psychological problems, from reasserting their place in the family home to rejoining a much-altered labour force. Civilians worried that their homecoming heroes had been barbarized by their experiences and would bring crime and violence back from the battlefield. Problem veterans preoccupied the entire country. Alan Allport draws on their personal letters and diaries, on newspapers, reports, novels and films to illuminate the darker side of the homecoming experience for ex-servicemen, their families and society at large - a gripping tale thats in danger of being lost to national memory.


Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; Reprint edition (6 Aug 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300168861
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300168860
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.7 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 520,376 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Alan Allport (1970-) was born in Whiston, near Liverpool. He moved to the United States in 1994 and received a doctorate in history from the University of Pennsylvania in 2007. He is currently an Assistant Professor of History at Syracuse University, NY. His first book, Demobbed: Coming Home After the Second World War was published by Yale University Press in 2009. He is now working on a social history of the British Army from 1939 to 1945. He can be contacted at http://alanallport.net

Product Description

Review

A highly impressive debut, demonstrating great scholarship and an ability to balance the humane detail of fractured lives with a wider perspective of the political and social context ... certainly the most insightful text on the 1940s to have appeared this year. --Ian Cawood, Times Literary Supplement

Allports wonderfully insightful study asks us to rethink the conventional chronology It is not only refreshingly free of jargon but remarkably moving. If all academic history was written this way, popular historians would be out of a job. --Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times

A masterful study of the subject Demobbed is a detailed and sympathetic examination of this difficult story. Making imaginative use of contemporary court and press accounts as well as the holdings of the Imperial War Museum Archive, it outlines the tribulations of a damaged generation, intertwining personal testimony with the authors thoughtful and cogent analysis [Demobbed] wears its erudition lightly and has a pleasing, easy style. --BBC History Magazine

About the Author

Alan Allport was born in Whiston, England, and grew up in East Yorkshire. He has a doctorate in history from the University of Pennsylvania and is currently a postdoctoral lecturer at Princeton.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and well-researched book 31 Dec 2009
Format:Hardcover
I bought this book for my dad for christmas. He well remembers the experience of being demobbed after WW2, and greatly enjoyed reading this excellent and well-researched book. He has only one minor quibble: the author doesn't distinguish between discharged and demobbed. Those demobbed were still liable for recall, and some were in fact recalled at the time of the Korean War, to their utter amazement and disgust. My dad thinks none of them actually went to Korea but replaced regulars who were sent there. He himself received a letter in about 1950-51 telling him that he was still in the RAF and should hold himself in readiness for recall, which fortunately never happened.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Refreshingly short history 2 Jan 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a refreshingly short book but one that smacks of authenticity from cover to cover. It will particularly appeal to demob babies like myself (1947). I found the comment of the previous reviewer very interesting and something that I did not know about. My own Father was sent on a two week refresher course during the Korean War and I remember it well, particularly the present he brought me back. This book has just the right balance of anecdote and research and I recommend it without reservation.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read 5 May 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I bought this book as my father was in Burma during the 2nd world war and was actually awarded a Military Cross for bravery.
I did not see him until I was nearly 5yrs old and we always had an uncomfortable relationship until his death in 1975. I found reading this book very emotional as I experienced very similar feelings to the ones portrayed in chapter 2 (so you're back then). I was terrified of this strange man who appeared one day as to me my Dad was someone who wrote letters and sent the occasional parcel from abroad.I was just starting to get to know him when he died at 63 and I found I missed him far more than I ever thought I would. So to anyone who was born during the war and had a father fighting abroad I urge you to fead this book. Thank you to Alan Allport for writing it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Alan Allport, born in England, moving to the United States in 1994, earned his doctorate in History and has become an expert on WWII; currently lecturing at Princeton.

We usually think of joyous reunions of returning servicemen from WWII, seamlessly re-entering peacetime jobs and wives happy to have them back. But a somewhat darker image lies just beneath the surface, and Alan Allport explores this in seven chapters packed with details that are disturbing.

Allport correctly concentrates on the experiences of the demobbed men, and does not cover the British auxiliary forces (ATS, WRNS, WAAF), which story is so different in key respects, that they cannot be covered in a book that concentrates on the experiences of men.

Most popular accounts of demobbed soldiers are anecdotal in style, and some historians still believe demob to be non-problematic, according to Allport. Thus, this writer brings to the table a careful examination of original primary source material, including court documents and press accounts of the period.

Allport's startling revelations come in 7 chapters. Chapter 1, servicemen were anxious to return home, and when it didn't come soon enough, insubordination broke out. The Bevin demob plan was based on a simple formula, with realistic expectations that were generally accepted. With the Labour Party newly installed, political promises of a quick demobilization were short-lived. Some bored airmen, awaiting demob, went on strike. Chapter 2 details how back home, the homecoming became passé...coming home slowly and anonymously, after many had had fantasies of reunion: the cozy vision of his wife, waiting in a bright apron, a hot cup of tea in her hand. It was not to be.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an important and increasingly relevant book 28 Jun 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
you wonder how anyone could've made it, you wonder if the war at home was greater than than the war abroad, you realise that we're at war with ourselves as much as anyone else, that experience shapes personality and that it then runs on in generations; the story of Stan alone coming home with his sten gun welled me with an emotion that still resonants.
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