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Digging for Victory: Gardens and Gardening in Wartime Britain Hardcover – 1 Dec 2010

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 236 pages
  • Publisher: Sabrestorm Publishing (1 Dec. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0955272378
  • ISBN-13: 978-0955272370
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 20.3 x 27.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 603,244 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Twigs Way is a professional garden historian, author and freelance lecturer, whose credits include Channel Four's 'Lost Gardens' and, for Sabrestorm Publishing, the Allotment & Garden Guide: A monthly guide to better wartime gardening". Mike Brown is an author, broadcaster and authority on the Home Front, whose books include 'The 1940s Look', 'The 1950s Look' and 'Air Raids & Ration Books' (Sabrestorm).

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Emma Cooper on 29 July 2011
Format: Hardcover
Garden writing today still offers much the same advice as it did during the war year - this is quite obvious if you read through 'Digging for Victory', which is a very comprehensive look at home vegetable production through the Second World War period and contains images of much of the literature produced at the time.

I have a soft spot for the Home Front period, and so I very much enjoyed looking through this book, with its many images of life back then. Unlike some books, however, this one doesn't toe the patriotic line and is happy to admit that people weren't always happy to 'dig for victory' and that some of the propaganda campaigns fell flat.

Even though I have read several books on this topic, this one still had new information that I hadn't come across before. It goes beyond 'Mr Middleton' to mention other garden writers - I learned about Eleanour Sinclair Rohde, who had an interest in herbs and wrote 'Uncommon Vegetables, how to grow and how to cook'.

It sounds as though most of the garden writing of the time was aimed (as it is now) as amateurs and making life easy for time-strapped gardeners. It would also have had to advocate thrift and make do and mend, as many gardening sundries and products would have been in short supply.

Gardening advice crept into every walk of life, with vicars being given horticultural notes to work into their sermons, and gardeners being encouraged by pesticide advice dispensed at Boots the Chemist. Apparently 10 tons of pigeon manure were scraped from a church in Kensington and given to local allotment holders to use as fertilizer, which was otherwise in short supply.

There's an insight into the history of the compost heap and a rather disturbing chapter on pests and diseases.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Wiltshire Bookworm TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 16 Jan. 2011
Format: Hardcover
Digging for Victory by Twigs Way and Mike Brown is a fascinating blend of gardening, history and social history. It tells the story of the government's WWII Dig for Victory campaign, richly illustrated by the stories of the people (or their offspring) who took up the call to grow more food, together with examples from the masses of ministry advisory leaflets, advertisements and articles from gardening magazines and books published at the time.

The story is told more or less in chronological order with varied side trips taken to view the role of the media, the changing role of women, the country house battleground and the involvement of children. It wasn't just vegetables either: the keeping of livestock such as pigs, chickens, rabbits and even goats was encouraged to help eke out the ration book and even provide a useful surplus for bartering. There's also the dawn of the gardening personality - in the form of Mr Middleton. He was much in demand for personal appearances at the time and one of his books has been reissued recently too.

I hadn't appreciated how the outbreak of war contributed to the demise of our orchards (many were grubbed up and re-planted with potatoes), how growing strawberries wasn't encouraged initially (considered a luxury crop, but later viewed as a morale booster) and the government's initial concerns that too many potatoes were being grown.

I hadn't realised that nurseries were actively involved in the campaign (though quite logical when you think about it) and how the government restricted the land used for their pre-war business to just 10%. Thus many valuable garden cultivars were lost during this time and the loss of income meant many nurseries went to the wall.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Hugh Johnston on 3 April 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
read this book and find out how the british people of the united kingdom helped the war effort, and feed themselves during the second world war lots of photos
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mr. R. T. Bowes on 27 Oct. 2012
Format: Hardcover
I have some professional interest in this subject, so was anxious to read this book. And I have the gravest reservations about it. In fact, by page 3 I had provided myself with a pad of post-it notes so that I could mark all the errors, questionable reasonings and downright WTFs.

For a start, there is no bibliography, so that anyone interested in pursuing any particular line of enquiry elsewhere is met with an instant block. The index is extremely cursory. Picture credits are sparse and, where they appear, sometimes questionable. Pictures are also poorly, misleadingly or incorrectly captioned - on page 3 there is a picture captioned as being "Westminster" when the structure concerned is clearly Marble Arch. On page 27 there is a reference to the polo field at Hurlingham, which is actually the venue for lawn tennis and croquet, not polo. On page 31, the WI apparently encourage women to keep pigs - a practice that was forbidden unless one was registered with a "Pig Club". On page 41 we have leeks being grown in the UK "since medieval times" when they actually arrived with the Romans, if indeed they were not actually native to the British Isles before this point. On page 53 we have fruit being excluded from the Grow More bulletins when on page 23 we clearly see that there was entire leaflet devoted to it. There is a worrying reference on page 78 to "television broadcasts" when these were far from common in the late 1930s and 40s.

There is considerable confusion, repetition and contradiction over the "Grow More Food" campaign, what date it was launched and at what point it became "Dig for Victory" (in fact, I gave up trying to work it out from the text because the web was just too tangled).
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 1 review
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Inspiring 29 Aug. 2011
By James G. Fisher III - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I found this book "Inspiring". In a world where our food is shipped from all over this book points out how one small country and it's citizens found ways to supply all their needs locally. This book could be used as a blueprint to lower out carbon foot prints and stave off further global warming.
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