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4.6 out of 5 stars
Wartime: Britain 1939-1945
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 14 September 2010
This was a fascinating read which kept me engaged all the way through. It was an objective and very accessible account of the Home Front interspersing letters, first hand accounts, diaries and official documents with the narrative to provide a very human description of a time that is fast passing out of living memory.

I agree that some of the source material is recognisable and has been used for other books but this is inevitable. I would disagree that it is the same as the Norman Longmate's How We Lived Then and would say it complements rather than copies it. Gardiner has access to material Longmate clearly didn't. I was particularly impressed by the chapter on conscientious objectors where not all of them were shown in a favourable light which gave me a different perspective on the subject.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 12 July 2011
This is an excellent book. I disagree with the reviewer who suggested that it is the same as Longmate's "How We Lived Then" (which I also think is excellent) - of course it covers some of the same ground, but Gardiner uses different reference materials, and it has a very different tone and view-point. It is clearly very closely researched, and very well written. It is also very evocative, but in a very straightforward way.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
For a post-war baby, this book is perfect in helping me understand what my parents went through. This is not a dry and dusty historical tome, but a lively record of people's words and thoughts carefully gathered into chapters on rationing, evacuation, the Home Guard etc.
It is also, surprisingly, very funny - with typical English eccentricities managing to survive the war.
I am amazed by what the people put up with in terms of impositions from the Government - many of whose decisions seemed (as they still are today!), illogical and irrelevant.
A highly recommended book which sheds light on a chapter of history that our parents were reluctant or unable to discuss with us.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
This is a history of the Second World War, not of the campaigns and the battles, but of the Home Front. Each chapter deals with a different theme - evacuation, rationing, the Blitz, crime, women in the workplace, air raid shelters, propaganda, the media, the Home Guard etc. It's very well-written, very readable and includes a great deal of quotes and anecdotes from diaries, letters, interviews and surveys from the time. It really makes you realise what hell people went through, and how the Home Front was in its own way as dangerous as the real battle in Europe, North Africa and the Pacific. A very worthwhile book.
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A splendidly readable narrative account of Britain during the second world war, focusing on the fabric of civilian life, rather than on major political and military events, though there is sufficient detail of these to provide the necessary understanding of the context. The book's great achievement is to enable the reader really to feel what it meant to be a citizen of a country at war, the day to day impact of restrictions on activities as well as the horrors of the Blitz and the V1/V2 raids. It also covers in a balanced way less well known aspects such as conscientious objectors of various kinds and the frankly outrageous treatment meted out to German and Italian people living in Britain, the great majority of whom were loyal to Britain and in many cases were refugees from Nazism, including Jews, or long settled Italian families running restaurants. A fascinating eye-opener of a book.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 20 October 2008
this must rate as one of the finest books of its type ever written i came across it looking for the series of mass observation war diaries all of which i have enjoyed but this is 800 pages of pure class john towell
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on 1 May 2011
A very good book on life in wartime Britain, 1939-45.
It covers topics such as, evacuation, rationing, the dig for victory, home guard and civil defence.
The book also covers the bombing of British cities and towns, the black market, the roles women played in the factories, the Land Army and Timber Corps.
The book gives a very good insight into life in Britain during the Second World War, well written and researched by Juliet Gardiner.
A recommended read for anyone who wants to know how Britain coped during the war years.
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on 8 June 2014
I have always wanted to read a book about the home front and could not ask for a better book. The author really brings to life the emotions and atmosphere of the time. I actually felt as if I had been there. I have not finished reading this book yet but felt compelled to write a review (once I could bring myself to put the book down for moment). I particularly enjoyed reading the chapter about Dunkirk and some parts gave me goosebumps.
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on 27 April 2012
A great book, where the author combines detailed scholarship with a clear writing style. There is so much here about one of the most challenging and important times in our history, and the author brings the era vividly and movingly to life. I read a lot of WWII books but this told me a great range of things I never knew. Fantastic for reference and straight through reading.
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on 29 September 2014
Very well researched and written. The section on the Blitz is shocking, even if you already know something about it. I grew up with an Anderson shelter in next door's garden and my mother and granny slept there many nights during the Blitz so the book brings it home. Read it if you get a chance.
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