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Millions Like Us: Women's Lives During the Second World War Paperback – 15 Mar 2012


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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: 19.6 x 13 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 11,620 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By M. J. Saxton VINE VOICE on 3 April 2012
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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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Sarah Louise on 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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Granny on 8 Nov. 2012
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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By M. S. Howells on 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 By Donald Berry on 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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By nyorks Annie on 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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