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We Are At War: The Diaries of Five Ordinary People in Extraordinary Times [Paperback]

Simon Garfield
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
RRP: £8.99
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Product Description


"Wonderful stuff" (Sunday Times)

"Fascinating, delightful, illuminating. The diarists soon become like old friends ... and make our wartime past seem no more distant than yesterday" (Mail on Sunday)

"It's always easy to imagine people in this period becalmed in a sepia-toned limbo. This book tells the messy, but far more interesting, truth" (Time Out)

"Few books have so successfully stepped inside the minds of the British people during wartime" (Metro)

"A fascinating account of everyday life in Britain" (Good Housekeeping)

Book Description

The highly-acclaimed diaries of ordinary people's lives in WWII, packaged as a massmarket woman's read for the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of war

From the Publisher

I love these diaries. They have the attraction of being stories, but REAL stories - Better than any novel' Margaret Forster

From the Inside Flap

Of all the accounts written about the Second World War, none are more compelling than the personal diaries of those who lived through it.

In We are at War, Simon Garfield has interwoven the diaries that five ordinary people sent to Mass Observation, the project set up in the 1930s to record everyday lives.

Beginning in August 1939, and ending a year later with the Battle of Britain and the start of the Blitz, reading We Are At War is to sense for yourself a nation's growing uncertainties and anxieties as a terrible conflict develops. Each writer has their own predictions about the war and how their worlds will be transformed by it. But the war they anticipate is not the war that unfolds.

Pam Ashford is an unmarried secretary at a large Glasgow shipping company who writes of daily events at her office as if they were soap opera.

Tilly Rice moves her children to safety in Cornwall, but returns to her home in Surrey just as the bombs start to fall.

Eileen Potter, a resourceful London social worker, works hard on the evacuation of children to the countryside but is shocked by the filth and infestation she discovers in their homes.

Christopher Tomlin, a God-fearing salesman in Preston waits for news from his brother stationed in France and longs for the day he will be called up himself.

And Maggie Joy Blunt, an elegant and reflective writer who will be familiar to readers of Simon Garfield's Our Hidden Lives, tries to maintain a semblance of normality as she goes out on the town with her many friends.

But privately, as they write, each diarist in their own way searches for meaning and a future as events around them unfold into the worst conflict in history. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

We Are At War is the story of five everyday folk who, at the brink of chaos, recorded privately on paper their most intimate hopes and fears.

Pam Ashford writes with comic genius about life in her Glasgow shipping office. Christopher Tomlin, a writing-paper salesman, longs to be called up like his brother. Eileen Potter organises evacuations for flea-ridden children, while mother-of-three Tilly Rice is frustrated to be sent to Cornwall. And Maggie Joy Blunt tries day-to-day to keep a semblance of her ordinary life.

Entering their world as they lived it, we find these ordinary British people are by turns apprehensive and despairing, spirited and cheerful - and always fascinatingly, vividly real.

About the Author

Simon Garfield is the author of ten highly acclaimed books of non-fiction including Mauve, The Error World and The Wrestling. His edited diaries from the Mass Observation Archive - Our Hidden Lives, We Are at War and Private Battles - provided unique insights into the Second World War and its aftermath, and his study of AIDS in Britain, The End of Innocence, won the Somerset Maugham Prize.
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