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on 16 June 2010
I had a sense, when reading Angus Calder's seminal "The Peoples War", of not just visiting one lost world (that of the home front during the second world war), but also that of the time the book was written in, late 1960's Britain; and not just because of (thankfully rare) sentences such as "For the New Britain rearmament meant a gay boom in aircraft production." The books discussions of the social and economic circumstances of wartime Britain are clearly written in pre-Neo Liberal times, when a mixed economy, a welfare state, and social cohesion were regarded as the norm. One could hardly imagine a writer tackling the vast subject of the home front in quite the same manner as Angus Calder did forty years ago, and his book is none the worse for that. On the contrary therein lies much of it's value in that "The Peoples War" allows the reader a double dose of time travelling: explicitly to the wartime 1940's, and implicitly to the post-war consensus that was still alive when this book was written.

At nearly 600 pages plus footnotes, bibliographical essay and index this book is difficult to pick up, but it is even more difficult to put down. Calder chronicles the home front in Britain, from the phoney war (called "The Bore War" at the time) to the general election which saw a landslide victory for the Labour Party in summer 1945, and reflects on a number of events in-between including the ascendancy of Churchill, the Battle of Britain and the Blitz, rationing, evacuation, the mobilization of people and economy for the wartime struggle, the planning for a "peoples" post war Britain that would embrace all classes, and the V-weapon attacks.

Calder makes use of a vast amount of sources including Government records, the archives of Mass Observation whose job it was to gauge the mood of the British throughout the war, newspapers and memoirs. This vast mountain of information is intermixed with revealing and apposite anecdotes, and rendered in a readable prose that is at times melancholy and sad, though just as often wry and funny.

It's heartening that this piece of exemplarily social and political writing is still in print after four decades. It gives the reader a many-dimensioned picture of the effect that the war had on the home front. Additionally it tells the story of how the post-war consensus including education, social security, the National Health Service, nationalisation, etc went through its birth pangs. A good part of British Politics since the mid 1970's has been the story of the rolling back of the gains made during the war and in the immediate post war years, and part of the importance of this book is in its telling the story of how that consensus came about. A well recommended read.
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on 4 September 2003
This book was found to contain a vast amount of relevant information concerning the implications of the Second World War upon a society which was undergoing a huge upheaval in its approach to cultural, social and even feminist issues. It was at times vague and descriptive, yet beyond this it produces a very solid foundation in which to tackle this period of history. It is personally felt as a full-time student that this book would benefit anyone studying at AS level through to degree level and possibly higher. GO Out and Buy IT!!!
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I have owned my copy of this book , a 1982 reprint , for close to thirty years . It has always given me great pleasure whenever I have read it . It has also always given me great pride in my parents and grandparents generations . It chronicles well the achievements of wartime Britain and how , even in the direst moments of adversity , its people looked forward to and worked for a better future . 'Post War Concensus' produced the world of my 50s childhood and 60s youth . I and millions like me grew up in a world shaped by a people and politicians with vision . If only we still had that vision .
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on 8 October 2012
For anyone researching the lives of ordinary people during WW2 this is a great book. It is a great insight into how people thought and reacted.The People's War: Britain 1939-1945: Britain, 1939-45
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on 21 July 2009
Most history is written using the documents of the rich and powerful as the source. The result is a dearth of information about the ordinary people of the day. This fine work sets out to be, and succeeds in being,a wonderful excepion to the rule. The smell of the chimney smoke and damp walls of Britain before, during and immediately after the war seeps from its pages. Excellent.
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on 5 July 2009
an excellent book every one of its 600pages is a joy it makes one realise the struggle of the people that won this war on the streets of the bombed and blitzed cities and the tenacity of the real heroes the mothers and wifes trying to raise and feed families in these historic times every school should have a copy of this magnificent book
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on 24 November 2015
Fine read and lots of info.
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on 19 March 2016
Truely a great read
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on 6 January 2016
all ok
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on 12 July 2013
Shows life from a different side, with comic bits, shows the resolve of this country during those days, should be given as subject for o levels.
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