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Waiting For Hitler: Voices from Britain on the Brink of Invasion Paperback – 8 Mar 2007
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'Gillies has written a wonderful book, packed with the authentic voices of the past. What might in other hands have been a rather depressing read becomes, thanks to her careful touch, a witty yet moving exploration into Britain and Britishness at its blundering, heroic best.' (The Mail on Sunday)
'A brilliant book and will be enjoyed by people from every generation' (Tony Benn)
'This is the best kind of social history... a feast' (Margaret Forster)
PRAISE FOR MIDGE GILLIES' PREVIOUS BOOKS (-)
...diligent, vivid and stirring... Her book is perceptive without being over-analytical, colourful without being overegged... I was gripped, exhilarated and moved by it. (Sunday Telegraph)
Fascinating and well-researched (Independent on Sunday)
... not just an accomplished biography, but a riveting slice of social history. (Mail on Sunday)
A vivid evocation of an era... one can almost smell the mixture of smoke, beer, winkles and champagne. (Times Literary Supplement)
A first-rate story about a remarkable woman (Edwina Currie, New Statesman)
There have been several biographies [of Marie Lloyd], but Midge Gillies' is the most wide-ranging and thoroughly researched. It is also the best. (Sunday Telegraph)
A brilliant evocation by an acclaimed historical biographer of what it was really like to live in a Britain in the shadow of Nazi invasion.See all Product description
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I recognised a few names in the book from previous Mass Observation books and diaries I have read, which made it even more interesting to me as I had not read these people's perspectives on an imminent invasion before.
There are some comic moments as well, so its not all harrowing stuff, but you can really feel the fear, worry and panic people felt during that terrible time in our history.
Midge Gilles has done a grand job of researching this subject and has written an intelligent and well informed book on the subject. I really enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone who is thinking of reading it.
I shuddered to read how mothers planned the unthinkable: murder of their children and themselves rather than live under the Nazis.
I shared in the agitated state in which people were plunged, the spy mania that gripped the country, in which any story could take hold of the public imagination. All this is brilliantly described in the chapter, The Nun with the Hairy Arm and Other Rumours.
I felt the same indignation as though it was happening today at the imbecility and cruelty of internment - locking up Jews who had fled persecution at home to seek safety in Britain only to find themselves sharing a camp with Nazis. And felt sadness at the plight of a dapper Italian, who had done no-one any harm.
As a counterpoint to all the angst, are two young women who refuse to let Hitler's imminent arrival get them down, and who are in some ways the life force of these series of stories.
There is also much more in this wonderful sweep of life in Britain at this perilous time. Midge Gillies expertly digs up the comic side of things along with the sense of foreboding. A fabulous read for anyone who wants to know not only what life was like in this country then, but wants to understand more about the nature of all of us, warts and all.
What could have been a difficult structure has been really well handled bringing a whole series of strands together in a coherent and illuminating structure. Some of the stories are very sad like the Arandora Star but there is also humour - The nun with the hairy arms!
For someone who was born at least ten years after the war this book gave me a real sense of what it was like to live through that time in a much more real way than any history book I read at school or the over the top Dad's Army. Details about things like food and clothing, trying to sleep in an Andersen shelter bring it home.
If you are interested in history, social history, the Second World War, or just love reading then I would definitely give this a go.
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