Browned Off and Bloody-Minded The British Soldier Goes to War 1939-1945 Alan Allport

Publication date:
07 Mar 2017
Yale University Press
424 pages: 197 x 127 x 38mm
22 b-w illus.
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A social history of the ordinary British soldier during World War II

“Reflects impressively wide reading, and commands respect for its shrewd judgments and lack of sentimentality.”—Max Hastings, New York Review of Books

"The stories of these brave but bewildered civilians in uniform are as illuminating as searchlights in a dark age of traumatic war."—Iain Finlayson, Times (London)

More than three million men served in the British Army during the Second World War, the vast majority of them civilians who had never expected to become soldiers and had little idea what military life, with all its strange rituals, discomforts, and dangers, was going to be like. Alan Allport’s rich and luminous social history examines the experience of the greatest and most terrible war in history from the perspective of these ordinary, extraordinary men, who were plucked from their peacetime families and workplaces and sent to fight for King and Country.

Allport chronicles the huge diversity of their wartime trajectories, tracing how soldiers responded to and were shaped by their years with the British Army, and how that army, however reluctantly, had to accommodate itself to them. Touching on issues of class, sex, crime, trauma, and national identity, through a colorful multitude of fresh individual perspectives, the book provides an enlightening, deeply moving perspective on how a generation of very modern-minded young men responded to the challenges of a brutal and disorienting conflict.

“A marvellous book, well-written and very readable. Highly Recommended.”—Harold Pollins, Bulletin of the Military Historical Society, February 2017.

“This rich social history offers a moving insight into the wartime experiences of these extraordinary men.”
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