Thursday, 7 February 2008

Wartime Britain 1939-1945 - Juliet Gardiner

When I first read this book it was as a straight narrative read. I have just re-read it for research. For either use, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Its major strength is that it is so well written. A book of this nature could so easily become a dull recounting of facts, but the mixture of official statistics and comments from diaries and letters, along with a lively style that recounts all these things in a clear narrative make this an enthralling read.

That I read its 690 pages twice was not intentional. I meant it for research, but was carried away by the story. Much of it was familiar (my mother’s family lived in London through the war) yet the framework and the relationship between events has presented everything with a fresh eye and a new perspective. And when I came back to it for research, that strong framework, the copious notes, and the huge bibliography made it a pleasure to use.

If you are interested in the period and have not yet read this book, find yourself a copy. It is a model of interesting and accurate history writing that far outstrips a great deal of popular history that finds its way into print.