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Customer Review

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating nuggets of WW2 London Life, 17 Nov. 2011
This review is from: The West End Front: The Wartime Secrets of London's Grand Hotels (Hardcover)
This book has such a great title - with shades of All Quiet on the Western Front, that I feared the text would not live up to it. I was wrong. Sweet has done a fantastic job with research and this does offer something new to the vast cannon of work on the Second World War.

The text revolves around goings-on backstairs in London's big hotels during the Second World War, however it encompasses far more than this since it documents lives of everyday people and their experiences in the most fascinating way.

It's beautifully written. Sometimes Sweet makes you smile. He relates musical comedian Arthur Askey dressed as an Italian waiter opining 'Please forgive the potatoes being so black, it is a mark of respect for our head waiter: he died this morning.'

There are also poignant moments. I was particularly moved to read of the plight of many Italian restaurant workers who, after giving many years of loyal service to British hotel customers, were interned for years on Churchill's say-so simply because they were Italian.

This is a fascinating read for the layperson and academic alike. It would be a welcome addition to the bookshelf of anyone interested in the period since it offers a fascinating social history of the time.
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