The definitive social history of London in the Blitz, which transformed life in the capital beyond recognition.
For Londoners the six long years of the Second World War were a time of almost constant anxiety, disruption, deprivation and sacrifice. The Blitz began in earnest in September 1940 and from then on, for prolonged periods, London was under sustained aerial bombardment by night and by day. Throughout the war, the capital was the nation's front line; by its end, 30,000 Londoners had lost their lives.
Yet if the bombing defined the era for those who lived through it, the months of terror were outnumbered by those spent knitting together the fabric of daily life at work, in the home, on the allotment, in the cinema or theatre and, not least, standing in those interminable queues for daily necessities that were such a feature of London's war.
Much has been written about 'the Myth of the Blitz' but in this riveting social history, Jerry White has unearthed what actually happened during those tempestuous years, getting close up to the daily lives of ordinary people, telling the story through their own voices. At the end of it all, the Battle of London was won not on the playing fields of Eton but in the playgrounds of a thousand council elementary schools across the capital.
Jerry White is one of London's best historians...and in this enveloping book he tries to scrape away the myths that have obscured our view of the Second World War and reintroduce us to what life in the city between 1939 and 1945 was actually like
As a history of the capital in wartime, it is probably unsurpassable... From the Myra Hess lunchtime concerts at the National Gallery, to the extraordinary resilience and bravery of Londoners... all can be found in this book
The Battle of London 1939-45... benefits hugely from a vast and well-chosen range of quotes and anecdotes, conjuring the atmosphere of a city under siege with vivid force. What's most striking in this raw and comprehensive portrait of a city on fire is just how enchanting and appealing it is: you actually start wishing you had been alive to witness it
[An] impressive history of the capital at war... White, an accomplished chronicler of London's history, tells it with brio and a confident mastery of the sources. He has a good nose for a piquant anecdote and clear-eyed awareness of the failings as well as the fearlessness of Londoners
Jerry White has a unique relation to London and Londoners. More than a historian, he is the city's witness, champion and town-crier... White does not rehearse the cliché of the Blitz spirit. Instead, by giving narrative commentary to the bit players in the drama...he presents a more complex, bleak and confused tale