Richard Holmes

The Whole Five Hundred Million of Us

Britain’s War Machine: Weapons, Resources and Experts in the Second World War

By

Allen Lane/The Penguin Press 445pp £25 order from our bookshop

This book is opinionated, iconoclastic and very often right. David Edgerton begins by pointing out that Britain’s victory in the Second World War is ‘hardly commemorated’. In 2010 the government launched its plans to celebrate the sixty-fifth anniversary of victory in Europe so late that some veterans’ groups had too little time to assemble a contingent, and BBC Radio News put ‘extensive European and small British ceremonies’ seventh in its running order that day. In contrast, ‘Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain, the Blitz, being “alone” – all are at the centre of national narratives of the war’. In place of the ‘declinist’ history that portrays a weakening imperial power making a last heroic stand and bankrupting itself to save the world, Edgerton offers instead the image of a ‘first-class power’ that was ‘confident, with good reason, in its capacity to wage a devastating war of machines’.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • What a charming, candid blogpost from one of our dear contributing editors. ,
    • RT : The first guess from one of my 1st graders was “death” and such an awed, somber, reflective hush fell over the clas… ,
    • Merry Christmas from Literary Review! Hope your stockings were laden with books, and the tree bending under the weight of further books....,
    • Last minute Christmas gift required? We're offering discounts on all our subscriptions (20% no less!) with the cod… ,
    • In this issue's 'Silenced Voices', Lucy Popescu writes of Thailand's restrictive lese-majesty laws and their latest… ,
    • "Gunn was a disciple of the American formalist Yvor Winters, but Winters’s poetry could never give off such a scent… ,
    • Christmas gift hunting? Why not give the gift of being even better read? We're offering discounts on all our subscr… ,