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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 29 June 2014
This book is a fully revised and updated edition of a book first published in 1996. The author is Professor of Modern History at the University of St Andrews. This book seeks to explain firstly, and briefly how the British came to be at war in 1914. Diplomatic and political requirements were of course paramount, but once Belgium had been invaded by Germany it was easy to talk also of honour, commitment, loyalty and courage. Britain’s alliances with Russia, France and Japan meant that they could not stand by and watch either one of those countries, or Germany or Austria-Hungary become the major player in European power politics. Either result would, the British felt endanger Britain and its Empire. So Britain was rather compelled to step in, whether they felt part of a European war situation or not.

Once at war, the author writes of conscription and volunteering, the soldier/officer ethos in the armed forces, the dissenters, the attempt to continue with business as usual (in the initial belief that a war would be carried out by the armed forces with little or no disturbance to civilian life), the provision of weaponry, foodstuffs and rationing, women in the workforce, pacificsm, enemy aliens, propaganda, the return of soldiers and support personnel after the war, the psychological and physical damage suffered by so many, the social changes caused by the war and more.

While this book is described by the author as a “social history” I found that there was more of an emphasis on the wider, local and central government and political issues, than those that affected “Mr and Mrs Joe Bloggs and the Bloggs children” on the ground during the years of war. So while there is some input from ‘ordinary people’ from diary entries and letters, there is more of a focus on the wider community and the impact of the war on Britain as a whole. This is an easy read, and offers a narrative more in the way of ‘popular’ than ‘scholarly’ history. The social aspects of Britain during World War I are nicely categorised and discussed, and the book is definitely engaging and readable. I think to get a more complete understanding of the “British at home in World War I” it would be desirable to read more widely than just this book. The comprehensive Bibliography in this book offers plenty of scope for further reading. A timely book, and one well worth studying in an attempt to understand more about the Great War and its impact on the lives of those who lived (and died) through those eventful years.
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on 6 May 2014
I am not an historian, but purchased for background information how the government of the day viewed the need to resourse the war. As the author explains, the book is written as a text book for his students.
I am finding the read very informative putting into context information that has come to me over60 + years. as anacdotal information. E.g shortages and rationing of guns and ammunition etc. very much a mith buster. Enjoying the social history. When I have completed the read, I may well be persuaded to concentrate on relationships between government, Trade Unions and general social issues. Could be better indexing for referencing work.
As a non-historian, finding the read informative and enjoyable.
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on 5 February 2015
A bit of a disapointment.The book is a kind of history of WW1 but you have to get far into it before you start reading about the British home front.The author seems negative towards Britain and the book is nothing like the title suggests.I would avoid.
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on 8 July 2017
Arrived promptly. Sometimes contentious, constantly interesting.
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on 12 December 2014
So well written.
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