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Millions Like Us: Women's Lives During the Second World War [Paperback]

Virginia Nicholson
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
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Book Description

15 Mar 2012

In Millions Like Us Virginia Nicholson tells the story of the women's Second World War, through a host of individual women's experiences.

We tend to see the Second World War as a man's war, featuring Spitfire crews and brave deeds on the Normandy beaches. But in conditions of "Total War" millions of women - in the Services and on the Home Front - demonstrated that they were cleverer, more broad-minded and altogether more complex than anyone had ever guessed.

Millions Like Us tells the story of how these women loved, suffered, laughed, grieved and dared; how they re-made their world in peacetime. And how they would never be the same again ...

'Vividly entertaining, uplifting and humbling, Millions Like Us deserves to be a bestseller' Bel Mooney, The Daily Mail

'Passionate, fascinating, profoundly sympathetic' Artemis Cooper, Evening Standard

Virginia Nicholson was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and grew up in Yorkshire and Sussex. She studied at Cambridge University and lived abroad in France and Italy, then worked as a documentary researcher for BBC Television. Her books include the acclaimed social history Among the Bohemians - Experiments in Living 1900-1939, and Singled Out - How Two Million Women Survived Without Men after the First World War, both published by Penguin in 2002 and 2007. She is married to a writer, has three children and lives in Sussex.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (15 Mar 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014103789X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141037899
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 35,962 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard Times 3 April 2012
By M. J. Saxton VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
This book is enthralling, there's no other word for it. It is the most detailed examination of women's lives during the second world war that I have read. I think it paints a candid portrait of what they experienced and how it affected their lives.

There is just enough verbatim recording to give it authenticity and that makes it all the more heartfelt. Parts of it fill you with a sense of outrage at the attitudes that men had towards the women who were putting so much effort into essential work in the forces and out. Times can't be changed, but it is a harsh fact that women were truly undervalued at the time when they were giving most of their time and energy to the war effort.

It is not all doom and gloom; there are some glorious moments of lives enriched by the experience of war.

Helen Forrester's story is one of the most touching: coming from a home where money and love were scarce, she had to go through the pain of losing two fiances (and another nearly so) to the war and in spite of her work never really found her worth until well after the war was over. Iris Ogilvie's experiences in recently re-occupied France belie the tale told by the propaganda photograph of her looking at hats in a Bayeux shop. And if you ever believed those romantic stories about the GIs, this book will dispel most of those myths forever.

The worth of the book lies in its honesty and the feeling the reader gets of what the lives of the various women discussed was like physically and emotionally. I recommend this book to anyone not only with an interest in history, but with an interest in people.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Moving Story 2 April 2012
Format:Paperback
I had read and enjoyed Singled Out by the same author. However I would rate Millions Like Us even more highly. I find books about social history over the ages very interesting. This book does more than such histories generally do; it gives a heartbreaking and deeply empathetic account of the true effect of WW2 on individuals and the population at large. Stories of lost children and fiances are deeply moving and did move me to tears. Ultimately we are taken to the end of the war and shown how most of the women mentioned attained happiness. The amount of work and research which must have gone into the book is breathtaking.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written and researched 30 April 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
This is a fascinating account of women's role during and after WW2. It is well reasearched and well written with no sexist bias. There is much material that I had not previously known - particularly the problems of GI Brides.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent 15 May 2012
Format:Paperback
As the author herself says this is a tribute to a generation of 'brave,stoical, unselfish,practical and uncomplaining women' who experienced the second world war in its many aspects. Virginia Nicholson could not have written a more exhaustive study of the interwoven feelings and reactions of a panoply of women who reveal their innermost response to the pressures put upon them. The writing is superb and the selective nuances that stretch throughout the book are compelling and deeply true making for an exhilerating read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read 24 Jun 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As someone who likes to read both fiction and non-fiction about World War 2. I was very excited when to read "Millions Like Us" by Virginia Nicholson and let me say that I was not let down! This is clearly a well reseached book about the lives of women durning the war. I found myself being drawn in the book. The pictures that were included were an added bonus. This a great book that is a must for any history buff and I hope to read more by Ms Nicholson in the future.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By Granny
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Well reserached and written,showing how all social classes of women experienced the war. The book is based on dozens of interviews with women relating their different roles in the services and on the home front. Single, married, engaged, widowed women started living for the moment never knowing if they would survive another day of enemy bombing. This fear of imminent death gave many of them licence to live each day to the full which meant that the pre-war expectations of women and their role in life changed dramatically.Working outside the home, travelling, mixing with a wide range of others, learning new skills and earning wages (even though they were lower than a man's wage paid for the same job)as well as a decrease in sexual inhibitions opened women's eyes to new experiences. No matter how hard government tried to return women to their domestic role again at the end of the war, it would prove to be an almost impossible task. Whether this was a good or a bad thing is up to the reader to decide.
This book is not a feminist diatribe but gives an excellent informative glimpse into that time without any form of critisism.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great read. 21 April 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this book to help me with my third year uni dissertation. I loved the use of personal testimonies and stories to illustrate the point-that there were millions of women all in the same boat during the war. Found it really interesting, and have referenced it numerous times. A great read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Vivid Testimony 28 Jun 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book, with one or two reservations.
If you have studied this subject in any depth (I wrote my MA dissertation many years ago on a similar theme) you will already know much of the material eg diaries by Nella Last, Joan Wyndham, Clara Milburn etc. But the testimonies of the women that the author actually interviewed were interesting and enlightening.
I also felt the author rather over-stresses 'femininity' as an important factor in winning the war. I've always felt that Britain's exploitation of the female workforce was a major advantage (whereas Germany wanted women to stay at home and produce more blond-haired babies) and there is no doubt that as well as tackling unfamiliar work in factories, shipyards, the armed services etc, women had to overcome male prejudices and a patriarchal attitude towards them. Add that to the other difficulties to be endured with rationing, bombing, the blackout etc and you see how much these women were to be admired for putting 'natural feminine feelings' to one side.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
It is a very interesting journey through the lives of women - I am only just about a quarter of the way through and know I will read it over and over again to remind myself of how... Read more
Published 1 month ago by V. A. Robinson
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
This book should make women appreciate what we have today. We are no longer tied to the kitchen sink and can choose the career we want, this was not possible for the masses at the... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Cheekyboots
5.0 out of 5 stars Reads like a novel
I loved this book - got so involved in the individual women's stories, and found them very moving, all the more for being true. The chronological structure really worked.
Published 1 month ago by Kate Charles
5.0 out of 5 stars present
this was apresent for my 82 year old mother who despite her years is very sharp. She thoroughly loved this book even though she was a child when the war started. Read more
Published 2 months ago by EDITH WHARTON
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant memoir
This book is simply brilliant. Weaving together details of the lives of a variety of women and the public record of war, the author brings
alive what life was like,... Read more
Published 2 months ago by DP
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
I couldn't put this book down. Gives a very good account of how women felt during and after World War II.
Published 4 months ago by Mr Tim Goodman
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely memories
I liked this a lot.
Happy times at a very stressful time in our history
It would make a good film.
Published 7 months ago by Black Dog
5.0 out of 5 stars World War 2 home front stories
This is an excellent book on World War 2 as seen mostly through the eyes of the women who served during it; not just in the military, but in war effort jobs. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Robert A. Bowers
4.0 out of 5 stars Hidden womens lives
Fascinating - a look at how the lives and expectations of women were turned upside down by the second world war. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Jo Brookes
4.0 out of 5 stars riveting
this book really put flesh and bones onto dry facts.
Thir own words and own stories are very different but make an absorbing tale. i don't kow if I would have had their grit.
Published on 23 July 2012 by jmm
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