Published in conjunction with the Imperial War Museum, this three-book collection brings together a fascinating and authoritative social history of the Second World War.
A Prayer for Gallipoli covers the Great War from the point of view of a chaplain. Kenneth Best had no military training, so to fulfil his pastoral role, he had to get close to the front line and work with troops as they were under fire. As his empathy for the troops grew larger, he became more and more disgusted with their leaders. These diaries provide an insight into the horrific realities of trench warfare.
The Secret History of the Blitz by Joshua Levine looks at the people that are not normally mentioned during accounts of the War - those spivs, outcasts and unsung heroes who were in the shadows; and D-Day to Victory features the diaries of a British tank commander as the war finally came to an end.
All written using archive and primary sources, these are candid and compelling reads about the triumphs and tragedies of war.
If you enjoy reading about our involvement in war then this set of 3 is great value. I admired the Army Chaplain in "A Prayer for Gallipoli" - but I suspect many will find the pace a bit too slow, and would rather read a precis of the whole. The Secret History of the Blitz is like a patchwork quilt of stories, which both back up the authors premise that our concept of the unifying effect of war is right, and on the other hand tries to suggest it is wrong. It probably has a wider appeal than a book about an army chaplain. For me, the D-Day to Victory was the best of the set. How the poor guys in tanks kept going is beyond my comprehension. I was fascinated by the stories of Passion Wagons and touched by the affection the crews held for their Churchill tanks, even when up against superior German Panzers. A good read, and I was amazed to read how serving soldiers got regular mail even whilst pushing forward in the last months of WW2.
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