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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating book,
This review is from: Mother Country: Britain's Black Community on the Home Front 1939-45 (Paperback)Wow, what an interesting book. I came across this book by accident and am so glad I did. From cover to cover, I could not put it down until I had read it all. Its simplistic style of writing makes it easy to read, whether you are five or ninety five years of age. Packed with references, it will make an invaluable tool for anyone studying WW2 history. I cannot believe that it has taken sixty five years for somebody like Mr. Bourne to take on the task of documenting and interviewing members of the black community and their wartime experiences here in Britain. Let us hope that Mr. Bourne can gather together more tales of this sort to enable him to write a follow up.
A well-researched, fascinating subject matter, with plenty of supporting photographs.
I hope the country's school curriculum takes note of this one.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Original and long over-looked area of British wartime history,
This review is from: Mother Country: Britain's Black Community on the Home Front 1939-45 (Paperback)There have been thousands of books published about the British Home Front experience, many of which regurgitate well-known 70 year old school book history. This is the most original British wartime social history I have read in some years.
Bourne describes the experiences of Britain's black population during the war. Rather than a chronological history, the book is divided into a series of personality vignettes and subjects.
Whilst there is the inevitable discussion of the racial prejudice that many black people faced, such as being segregated into separate air raid shelters, Bourne concentrates on the positive roles the community played.
He describes the work of black civil defence workers and firemen saving lives and serving the nation, to popular entertainers boosting morale. Workers from the colonies also came over to work in the war factories making tanks.
Interesting and overlooked personalities, such as academic humanitarian Dr Harold Moody, 'Britain's Martin Luther King Junior,' through to entertainer Ken 'Snakehips' Johnson, who was tragically killed on stage during the Blitz, are profiled. Well researched, Bourne's book tells a genuinely overlooked and interesting story and redresses an important overlooked aspect of our wartime history that was in danger of being forgotten by most historians.
Though easily readable, this book will also be useful for students as it is detailed, with copious references and endnotes.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mother Country breaks new ground,
This review is from: Mother Country: Britain's Black Community on the Home Front 1939-45 (Paperback)MOTHER COUNTRY unearths a hidden history of Britain and the Second World War. This new book by Stephen Bourne highlights the contribution to the British war effort made by black Britons. These include community leaders Dr Harold Moody, Learie Constantine, BBC broadcaster Una Marson, London air raid warden E. I. Ekpenyon, fire watcher Esther Bruce (an adopted aunt to Bourne), singers Adelaide Hall and Elisabeth Welch, bandleader Ken Snakehips Johnson and black senior citizens who have been interviewed by Bourne about their memories of the home front in West Africa and the Caribbean. Very little attention has been given to black British and West African and Caribbean citizens who lived and worked on the front line during the Second World War. Yet black people were under fire in cities like Bristol, Cardiff, Liverpool, London and Manchester, and many volunteered as civilian defence workers, such as air-raid wardens, fire-fighters, stretcher-bearers, first-aid workers and mobile canteen personnel. Many helped unite people when their communities faced devastation. Black children were evacuated and entertainers risked death when they took to the stage during air raids. Despite some evidence of racism, black people contributed to the war effort where they could. The colonies also played an important role in the war effort: support came from places as far away as Trinidad, Jamaica, Guyana and Nigeria. Mother Country tells the story of some of the forgotten Britons whose contribution to the war effort has been overlooked until now.
Says playwright & critic Bonnie Greer: "Stephen Bourne brings great natural scholarship and passion to a largely hidden story. He is highly accessible, accurate, and surprising. You always walk away from his work knowing something that you didn't know, that you didn't even suspect. Mother Country is quite simply a home-grown triumph."
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read and solid history!,
This review is from: Mother Country: Britain's Black Community on the Home Front 1939-45 (Paperback)This is a wonderful, well-researched history of black British civilians' contributions to the war effort on the Home Front in World War II. Drawing on documentary sources and personal interviews, Stephen Bourne has done a bang-up job of bringing history to life by evoking human personalities rather than focusing entirely on dry dates and events as so many histories do. As far as I know, this is the first book to deal with this subject, and it was high time, too!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely photos. Interesting book.,
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This review is from: Mother Country: Britain's Black Community on the Home Front 1939-45 (Paperback)If you are interested in this period, you should like the book. There were photographs that I had never seen before.
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Mother Country: Britain's Black Community on the Home Front 1939-45 by Stephen Bourne (Paperback - 11 Aug 2010)
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