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on 7 October 2006
Josh Levine has worked hard, listening to hundreds of interviews held at the Imperial War Museum Sound Archive. He has done all the graft for us and distilled into the latest of the 'Forgotten Voices' series the very best quotes from that huge collection of tape recordings with people who actually experienced the Blitz and the Battle of Britain. No modern author could duplicate the intensity of emotion and vividness of expression that simply leaps from the page as you read this fantastic book. From the ordinary people in their air raid shelters, the ARP wardens on the streets, the unbelievably heroic bomb disposal teams, the German bomber crews above them, right through to the fighter boys in their Hurricanes and Spitfires - everything is here. Oral history is brilliant in recreating the mood of the moment, explaining just how things worked but with shafts of very real humour to dilute the underlying tragedy of humanity at war. This book is oral history at its very best.
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on 31 May 2011
A fascinating read, personal accounts taken from the sound archives of the IWM.
The book uses the accounts of people who went thru the Battle of Britain and the Blitz, from pilots, WAAFs, firemen, police, children, civilians etc.
You can really appreciate what the people of Britain went thru in the defence of the UK when a German invasoin was threatening.
Also in the book how the people of Britain coped with the horror and carnage of the Blitz, the book really brings history alive.
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on 5 July 2009
This volume in the Forgotten Voices series is just excellent (aren't they all ?). The book starts off with recollections of the Dunkirk evacuation (the contempt the RAF were held in by the army after events in France,is evident !)& the subsequent threat of Nazi invasion,as Hitler planned Operation Sealion.Then we arrive at the Battle of Britain & finally accounts of the Blitz.
There are, as ever with these books, some very moving testimonies (the stories related by those who witnessed death, injury & destruction during the bombings of London & Coventry,are particularly emotional)
The recollections of the pilots from both sides involved in the Battle Of Britain is fascinating,engrossing & enthralling (there but for the grace of God & all that).
As ever, I marvel at the courage, dedication,selflessness & sacrifice that are evident in the pages of these books. This does not paper over the "darker" side of the "Blitz spirit" - there are stories which touch on theft, black marketeering & assaults on women but what does shine through is the fact that in the majority of cases the British people seemed to exhibit quite frankly, unbelievable spirit & bravery in the face of huge, almost unimaginable (for later generations),unfathomable adversity.
All in all, a marvellous slice of British wartime history - a must.
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on 28 August 2013
What a wonderful book! This is another gem from the 'Forgotten Voices' series that I picked up recently on Amazon.

Full of emotion and anecdotes from members of the armed forces of Germany and Britain (and her allies), as well as the civilians, members of the Home Guard, nursing staff, fire service, ambulance service, and many others, all of whom contribute to make this a fascinating new insight into how people really felt and feared during this incredible time in the history of Britain.

The author has done a marvellous job of putting the excerpts in a relatively cohesive chronological order (the excerpts are all transcripts of recordings made by the Imperial War Museum and others), making this an easy and 'sensible' read. Whilst not a history book as such, it is perhaps even more insightful and informative as it really gets into the mindset of a country that was fighting for its life and its very existence.

All in all, a wonderful read, highly recommended for all buffs and anyone interested in a good old fashioned tale from Grandad!
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on 29 December 2011
I found this to be a book that was hard to put down. It covers so many interesting topics that are not normally covered these days - particularly what it was like in England during the first 12 months. Then there are all the accounts from BoB pilots giving their first hand stories of that incredible battle. We also learn how Spitfires compared with Messerschmitts or what it was like to bale out from a burning plane. The final third of the book gives us so many moving eye witness accounts of the blitz. This is no dry history of the early part of the war, but a collection of unforgettable personal stories from some of those who helped us through to victory. Highly recommended.
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on 26 April 2013
This book forms another excellent collection of personal histories covering the early years of the Second World War. More than any standard history text could ever do it gives an insight into what it was like for Britain in the early years of the war when defeat to Nazi Germany seemed a very real possibility.

The title is slightly misleading as the book is actually divided into three sections - Dunkirk and The Threat of Invasion, The Battle of Britain and finally The Blitz. Each section is then subdivided into more specific aspects with a short explanatory history setting the scene. Unfortunately there is some cross over with one of the other Forgotten Voices books which specifically covers Dunkirk, but this only relates to a very small percentage of the text.

It's nice to see that the author has managed to balance the accounts of airmen on both sides of the Battle of Britain by quoting both Allied and German sources. This allows the reader to see how the views of the airmen actually involved in the battle match up to the myths which have been created since. The descriptions of burns victims are particularly moving in this section and it makes you realise the sacrifice these young men made.

The section about The Blitz is also very well done with accounts from people from all walks of life. It's amazing to think of this happening just 70 years ago. I'm not sure the people of London would be so united now, everybody would be putting in claims for compensation !

As a history of these early years of the war this book does seem incomplete without any reference to the role of the Royal Navy in keeping this island free from Nazi occupation. The fight for control of the sea was every bit as important as the battle in the air. However that story is perhaps best left to another Forgotten Voices book focusing on the Royal and Merchant Navy if someone from the IWM would be kind enough to write one!

As with other Forgotten Voices books this is a very British history of the war, looking at the conflict from the viewpoint of the British people. While Britain did not suffer as much as other European countries during the war it shows clearly what that generation went through to bring us peace. If Britain had not stood up to Hitler the US would never have become involved in a war in Europe, having no where to launch an invasion from. This book is a fine tribute to the strength of will of the British people.
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on 13 July 2013
Such an awe inspiring read! As much triumph as tragedy, dark humour, and humbling stories of survival in the face of adversity..
It led me through some harrowing and heartfelt tales, but overall, I saw it as our island nations British spirit of survival, reconciling tragic loss and hardship during WW2
Worth every penny
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on 17 May 2010
I loved this book. It is well put together and easy to dip in and out of (and lose several hours to). It made everything very human and really brought home to me the atmosphere at the time and the experiances from many perspectives - from the girls de-coding german conversations, the fireman battling to save people and buildings to Churchill's War Rooms and the people working with him.

It had me laughing out loud and welling up with tears within minutes of having picked it up. I would recommend this book to everyone.
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on 10 May 2014
Another great book from the "forgotten Voices" series. The book is made up of short accounts by the actual participants in the Battle of Britain - and not just the pilots of the RAF, also civilians who add another fascinating dimension to the book.
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on 28 May 2014
It brought back lots of memories, I was 14 in 1944 and started work when the bus bombs were at their hight but
Lots of the stories in this book, we had heard before but not really believed.
A good informative book.
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