Description - Their Darkest Hour by Stuart Hylton
The traditional image of the Home Front in World War II is of cheery Londoners, singing along to Vera Lynn on the radio and making do and mending as bombs fall all around them. But there was another side to life in wartime Britain, a side many would like to forget. Questionable Governmental procedures often hindered Britain's chance of winning the war. Incredibly meticulous plans for protecting the nation's art treasures, yet little preparation was made for the civil defence of its population. A catalogue of authoritarian blunders shows in frightening detail just how close Britain came to becoming a totalitarian state. Propaganda fed to the people bore scant relation to the facts, and dark forces like racism found a ready outlet in wartime society. Crime continued to flourish, and the class tensions in prewar society were often thrown into sharp relief. Careless Talk is a stimulating, unsentimental portrait of a nation at arms.
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(198mm x 127mm x 10mm)
The History Press Ltd
Publisher: The History Press Ltd
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Book Reviews - Their Darkest Hour by Stuart Hylton
UK Kirkus Review »
In his popular history of the Home Front in Britain during World War II, Hylton covers familiar ground, but presents his material - some of which is original and new - vividly and with something of an emphasis on those areas which now seem strange and almost unbelievable to us. his opening chapter, on Britain's treatment of aliens and alleged Fifth Columnists, is a salutary reminder of how hysterical a normally sensible person can become under pressure: led by Churchill and with support from the right-wing Press, there was a campaign of oppression quite as damaging as that of the American towards their Japanese citizens a little later: German refugees (many of them Jewish) were sent to internment camps and only shamefacedly released when there was a general reaction against the policy. He is good on evacuees - city children sent off to the country away from threatened bombs - and the pain and sometimes oppression of their unwilling hosts (one wrote home: 'I don't like the man's face much. Perhaps it will look better in daylight. I like the dog's face best'). The tension between poor (severely rationed, sleeping in tube stations at night) and the rich (holed up at the Savoy with a magnum or two of champagne) is well caught, as is the noble silliness of the Civil Defence movement - the author reprints Government directives advising what to do in the case of invasion, which achieve a perfect balance between patriotism and absurdity. The way in which the position of women in society changed between 1939 and 1945 - though again familiar ground - is made particularly interesting (prostitutes avoided military service simply by writing 'prostitute' in the box headed 'occupation'). Some homosexuals did the same; most however served, and many died. In short, an excellent book on an experience which will be recognised by those who lived through it, and who will as they read it remember forgotten facts, and which will astonish, amuse and move anyone under sixty. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Stuart Hylton
STUART HYLTON is a writer and historian. He has also written Reading at War and From Rationing to Rock: The 1950s Revisited for The History Press.