Simon Heffer

The Enemy Within

An Underworld at War: Spivs, Deserters, Racketeers and Civilians in the Second World War

By

John Murray 429pp £20 order from our bookshop

THE ROMANTICISM THAT clothed the British effort in the Second World War has taken some decades to wear thin. Correlli Barnett, in his magisterial The Audit of War (published in 1986), gave the lie to the notion that all classes were pulling together in the drive to keep Britain supplied. As he pointed out, trade unions in vital industries saw nothing unpatriotic in striking, and management often saw no reason to improve practices unless they themselves benefited drectly. In this book, Donald Thomas has done for the dishonest members of wartime British society what Barnett did for the honest ones. He has provided an audit of criminal life in the Second World War, and very entertaining and edifjing reading it makes too.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Full of invention which, at its most pedestrian, is eminently Victorian, and at its most unrestrained wildly imagi… ,
    • 'What in other hands could have been a dry, pedantic account of Christianity’s birth and evolution becomes in Holla… ,
    • RT : One of my favourite literary magazines is celebrating 40 years this year. Here is the September edition of… ,
    • 'Now that the Thames is too fast-flowing to freeze, its spirit’s devotees ... have found other climes for their pri… ,
    • 'Bythell glowers past his till at a world in slow free fall.' on the travails of a second-hand book… ,
    • 'It is a scent of animal wrath, of instinctive need, of brutal life which affects the cultured nostrils of our civi… ,
    • 'The day produced countless stories of chance, of people taking one route or another without realising that the dec… ,