Hot on the heels of her sparkling history of the 1930s, Juliet Gardiner has now written about the denouement of that difficult decade. The 1930s were light and shade: people hoped for a modernist, consumption-rich future, but feared impending disaster, chillingly represented in films and scaremongering popular literature as a remorseless, unassuaged air attack. When the bombing of Britain began in earnest in August 1940, there were many who saw this as a deserved end to a melancholy age of fruitless aspirations and failed idealism, a fitting apocalypse.
Gardiner’s fascinating trawl through the narrative of the blitzed cities in the nine months of attack also has its shades of light and dark. There are the familiar accounts of ordinary British people showing remarkable resilience, unexpected courage, and a grim determination not to let Hitler win. The