OVERRIDE

London 1945

Life in the Debris of War

Maureen Waller

St. Martin's Griffin

London at the outset of war in 1939 was the greatest city in the world, the heart of the British Empire. By 1945, it was a drab and exhausted city, beginning the long haul back to recovery.

The defiant capital had always been Hitler's prime target. The last months of the war saw the final phase of the battle of London, as the enemy unleashed its new vengeance weapons, the flying bombs and rockets. They were terrifying and brought destruction on a vast scale but fortunately came too late to dent morale seriously.

The people of London were showing the spirit, courage, and resilience that had earned them the admiration of the world during a long siege. In the harshest winter of fifty years, they were living in primitive conditions. Thousands were homeless, living in the Underground and deep shelters. Women lined up for horse meat and were lucky to obtain one egg a month. They besieged emergency coal dumps. Everyone longed for peace.
 
The bright new world seemed elusive. As the victory celebrations passed into memory, there were severe hardships and all the problems of postwar adjustment. Women lost the independence the war had lent them, husbands and wives has learn to live together again, and children had a lot of catching up to do.
 
Yet London's loss has often been its opportunity. Its people had eagerly embraced plans for a modern metropolis and an end to poverty. They voted overwhelmingly for a Labour government and the new, fairer social order that was their reward for all they had endured.
 
The year of victory, 1945, represents an important chapter in London's—and Britian's—long history. In this important study, acclaimed historian Waller draws on a rich array of primary sources, letting the people tell their own story. In so doing, she recreates a crucial moment in modern history, and brings to that moment the social insight at which she excels.

REVIEWS

Praise for London 1945

“Thoroughly engrossing...builds up a detailed picture of daily life in London.” ---The New York Times

“Joins the ranks of such works as Philip Zeigler’s London at War and Robert Hewison’s Under Siege: Literary Life in London, 1939–1945... Her depiction of the daily fabric of wartime life in the capital is unrivaled.... An illuminating approach.” ---The Atlantic Monthly

“Waller...balances an enormous amount of data with a journalistic attention to anecdote and oral history in this stunning book.” ---Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A gracefully rendered portrait of a great city at war...Vivid and highly readable.” ---Kirkus Reviews

“Waller’s book masterfully supplements Philip Ziegler’s London at War, 1939–1945 and provides the reader with a well-crafted story of war and its cruel impact on a large European city.” ---Library Journal

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Maureen Waller

  • Maureen Waller attended University College London and Queen Mary College and holds a master’s degree in British and European history. After a brief spell at the National Portrait Gallery, she has worked at several prestigious publishing houses.

  • Maureen Waller
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    London 1945

    Life in the Debris of War

    Maureen Waller

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    St. Martin's Griffin

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