The War on our Doorstep: London's East End and how the Blitz Changed it Forever Paperback – 12 Apr 2012
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"Reveals in heart-rending detail what it truly means to be an East Ender" (Daily Express)
"An excellent collection of recollections of Eastenders. ... What a place, what indomitable pride. Read all about it" (Country Life)
A testament of what it meant to be an East Ender as we see their world change forever during World War 2See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Highly recommended to anyone interested in London, 20th-century Britain, social history and a great, absorbing read.
I really enjoyed reading about the dairies where customers demanded milk from a specific named cow, about Chinese gambling dens, Hugenot weavers and the tight knit Jewish communities. There's so much in this book - the Cable Street riots, the Bethnal Green tube disaster - I could go on and on, but Harriet Salisbury and the voices she has brought to us do it so much more eloquently. A pleasure to read.
The author writes "the question that fascinated me was not what happened? but who did it happen to?" and this book, a collection of oral testimonies, gives a vivid account of those indomitable people.
The book records their stories of growing up, working and living in the East End. The interviewees saw and experienced poverty, discrimination, exploitative working practices, aerial bombardments in two World Wars, fragmentation of neighbourhoods, the birth of trades' unions and the death of industries and, ultimately, of the East End that they knew.
The section covering home life and healthcare prior to the NHS is particularly interesting. Medical officers recruiting for WW1 found that 37.4% of Londoners had either a physical disability or a weakness due to past disease; hardly surprising since in the early 20th century more than a million people in the East End were living in crowded buildings often in extreme poverty. Home for a typical family would be one or two rooms of a shared house with a cooker on the landing and a shared outside toilet and cold tap.
Childhood mortality was high as children were especially vulnerable to the effects of cold, dirt, pollution and malnutrition. For most families a visit from the doctor was unaffordable.
Parasites were inevitable; bed bugs, fleas and lice were a part of daily life. When rooms needed cleansing a highly toxic sulphur candle would be burned. The practice of sitting out in the street on a warm summer evening chatting with the neighbours was in part to avoid the bed bugs indoors.
Large families remained the norm and there was very little publically accessible information about family planning.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Lovely read recalling many memories of days gone by,Published 11 months ago by Mary Poppins from East London
I really enjoyed this book, particularly as my family came from the East End so it was interesting to read all the first hand stories. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Jonaloise
Really enjoying this book from personal accounts and historical view.Published 15 months ago by Amazon Customer
I bought it for my sister who loved it as she lived through the war in LondonPublished 17 months ago by JPB