Of all the accounts written about the Second World War, none are more compelling than the personal diaries of those who lived through it. "We Are At War" is the story of five everyday folk, who, living on the brink of chaos, recorded privately on paper their most intimate hopes and fears.
Pam Ashford, a woman who keeps her head when all around are losing theirs, writes with comic genius about life in her Glasgow shipping office.
Christopher Tomlin, a writing-paper salesman for whom business is booming, longs to be called up like his brother.
Eileen Potter organises evacuations for flea-ridden children, while mother-of-three Tilly Rice is frustrated to be sent to Cornwall. And Maggie Joy Blunt tries day-by-day to keep a semblance of her ordinary life.
Entering their world as they lived it, each diary entry is poignantly engrossing.
Amid the tumultuous start to the war, these ordinary British people are by turns apprehensive and despairing, spirited and cheerful - and always fascinatingly, vividly real.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 448 pages
- Publisher: Ebury Publishing
- Publication Date: 01/09/2005
- Category: Biography: historical, political & military
- ISBN: 9780091903879
Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.
Review by LizzieD
Review by souloftherose
Another selection of diary extracts from the Mass Observation project chosen by Simon Garfield, this time covering the summer of 1939, when war was declared through to October 1940 when the German planes were bombing Britain's cities. Again, Garfield has chosen a good selection of diarists including my favourite diarist, Maggie Joy Blunt, from <i>Our Hidden Lives</i>. I've never studied or read about WWII in depth so I was surprised to learn how prepared Britain seemed for this war, the evacuation of children and families from London was begun two days before war was officially declared; how, throughout the rest of 1939, people felt ready for anything and expected great change in their lives, but felt that nothing had really affected them except the great uncertainty they were living in; how convinced everyone was that Hitler would invade Britain in the summer of 1940 and how many of the diarists still hung on to hope despite how badly the war seemed to be going for the Allies during this time.I don't think anything could really help me feel or understand completely what it was like to live through that dark and uncertain time at the beginning of WWII but reading these diaries certainly gave me some idea of what people felt at that time. A more emotional read than <i>Our Hidden Lives</i> and one that has made me want to read and understand more about WWII.Two quotes:Tilly Rice, Wednesday 15th May 1940:<i>Sometimes I feel that we are coming onto the very evening of civilisation, and that the noise and roar of battle are the last crashing chords of the finale. But my deeper conviction is that we shall come out in the end.... if we can hold them now. If. I don't feel nervous that the grim drama is going to come down and include me, although sometimes I suffer some apprehensions on behalf of my children. I can so easily conjure up the hateful possibilities of myself and the children homeless, of the feeling of utter desolation that must come upon people in those circumstances, the loss of security and stability and above all the terrible feeling of being unprotected. But that, let us hope, is only the playing of my imagination.</i>Maggie Joy Blunt, Monday 9th September 1940:<i>Life goes on. That is what amazes and thrills me. In spite of this increasing terror and destruction over London and the constant rumours of invasion, we get our food, our papers and letters. Buses and trains run fairly well to time. Work in factories and offices and shops continues. I have a great feeling that this is the death and birth of ages... the old order passing... and life in fire from the sky descending.</i>