Saturday, January 29, 2011

thoughts on: Backs to the Wall

Backs to the WallBacks to the Wall by Leonard Mosley

I've read other books about life in London during the Blitz, written in a similar style, but this book covered both a longer time period and a broader segment of society, giving a more complete picture of London during the war.  Backs to the Wall covers the entire war, beginning with the phony war, and ending at VE Day, so we hear, in first person accounts, not only of the solidarity during the Blitz, but the frustrations over food rations, the disgust over the decline of morals, and the sheer exhaustion of the later years of the war.

Mosley draws heavily on first hand, contemporaneous accounts, diarists and Mass Observation Volunteers, who wrote extensively about their daily lives.  He included people who are often not given more than a cursory mention in writings on home life:  women who turned to prostitution, men who refused to fight.  As much as possible, he lets people speak for themselves, quoting their own writings. So we read about the terror of the V1's and the thrill of finding a single lemon for sale.  The humiliation of imprisonment for sleeping with the enemy and the quick forgiveness offered by one's friends upon release.  The excitement of a little boy who has off school, because it has been bombed, and the grief of parents who have lost a child in the bombings.  The recovery of a young pilot suffering massive burns whose sole desire is to return to combat, and the musings of a conscientious objector. 

It's all there:  life, good and bad, which carries on in peace and war.

1 comment:

Missus Wookie said...

I'm going to look it up - Ewok will be doing WWII in a few months and obviously we'll be looking at the Blitz.