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Demobbed: Coming Home After World War Two Hardcover – 2 Oct 2009

4.6 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; 1st Edition edition (2 Oct. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300140436
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300140439
  • Product Dimensions: 24.1 x 15.7 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 870,210 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

'Wonderfully researched, sensitively written and often very moving, 'Demobbed' tells an important, underappreciated story that still resonates today.' --David Kynaston, author of 'Austerity Britain, 1945-1951'

About the Author

Alan Allport was born in Whiston, England, and grew up in East Yorkshire. An expert on the Second World War, he is currently a postdoctoral lecturer at Princeton.

Customer Reviews

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Well written and infrormative
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Format: Hardcover
I bought this book for my dad for christmas. He well remembers the experience of being demobbed after WW2, and greatly enjoyed reading this excellent and well-researched book. He has only one minor quibble: the author doesn't distinguish between discharged and demobbed. Those demobbed were still liable for recall, and some were in fact recalled at the time of the Korean War, to their utter amazement and disgust. My dad thinks none of them actually went to Korea but replaced regulars who were sent there. He himself received a letter in about 1950-51 telling him that he was still in the RAF and should hold himself in readiness for recall, which fortunately never happened.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a refreshingly short book but one that smacks of authenticity from cover to cover. It will particularly appeal to demob babies like myself (1947). I found the comment of the previous reviewer very interesting and something that I did not know about. My own Father was sent on a two week refresher course during the Korean War and I remember it well, particularly the present he brought me back. This book has just the right balance of anecdote and research and I recommend it without reservation.
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Format: Paperback
Alan Allport, born in England, moving to the United States in 1994, earned his doctorate in History and has become an expert on WWII; currently lecturing at Princeton.

We usually think of joyous reunions of returning servicemen from WWII, seamlessly re-entering peacetime jobs and wives happy to have them back. But a somewhat darker image lies just beneath the surface, and Alan Allport explores this in seven chapters packed with details that are disturbing.

Allport correctly concentrates on the experiences of the demobbed men, and does not cover the British auxiliary forces (ATS, WRNS, WAAF), which story is so different in key respects, that they cannot be covered in a book that concentrates on the experiences of men.

Most popular accounts of demobbed soldiers are anecdotal in style, and some historians still believe demob to be non-problematic, according to Allport. Thus, this writer brings to the table a careful examination of original primary source material, including court documents and press accounts of the period.

Allport's startling revelations come in 7 chapters. Chapter 1, servicemen were anxious to return home, and when it didn't come soon enough, insubordination broke out. The Bevin demob plan was based on a simple formula, with realistic expectations that were generally accepted. With the Labour Party newly installed, political promises of a quick demobilization were short-lived. Some bored airmen, awaiting demob, went on strike. Chapter 2 details how back home, the homecoming became passé...coming home slowly and anonymously, after many had had fantasies of reunion: the cozy vision of his wife, waiting in a bright apron, a hot cup of tea in her hand. It was not to be.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book as my father was in Burma during the 2nd world war and was actually awarded a Military Cross for bravery.
I did not see him until I was nearly 5yrs old and we always had an uncomfortable relationship until his death in 1975. I found reading this book very emotional as I experienced very similar feelings to the ones portrayed in chapter 2 (so you're back then). I was terrified of this strange man who appeared one day as to me my Dad was someone who wrote letters and sent the occasional parcel from abroad.I was just starting to get to know him when he died at 63 and I found I missed him far more than I ever thought I would. So to anyone who was born during the war and had a father fighting abroad I urge you to fead this book. Thank you to Alan Allport for writing it.
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Format: Paperback
What's so good about this book is not only the amount of research and sheer hard work that's gone into it, it's the ability of the author to leave absolutely no stone unturned; he takes the perspective of the serviceman returning home from conflict of course, but also the type of welcome awaiting him, sometimes effusive but often, none at all.

Alan Allport has examined the wives (often faithful but sometimes not), the children and the serviceman's pre-war employers and contemporaries - plus officialdom. All of them had differing views on the returning serviceman's lot, plus their own.

Many of those left behind during the conflict suffered deprivations of their own and were sometimes unsympathetic to the plight of the soldier who also experienced trauma of a different nature. This could vary with sarcastic comments from the reserved-occupation type: " ... of course, you fellows in the Services had all the good food!" to the crass, "So, you're back then", the latter comment being particularly poignant.

Little wonder the men who had seen six years of war found it difficult to adjust to peacetime; and of course, some never did.

This is an exceptionally well-written book - I thoroughly recommend it.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
you wonder how anyone could've made it, you wonder if the war at home was greater than than the war abroad, you realise that we're at war with ourselves as much as anyone else, that experience shapes personality and that it then runs on in generations; the story of Stan alone coming home with his sten gun welled me with an emotion that still resonants.
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