A brilliant evocation by an acclaimed historical biographer of what it was really like to live in a Britain in the shadow of Nazi invasion.
In late summer 1940, Hitler told his army to prepare to invade England. The nation waited, breathless with tension, for the Nazi threat to become real.
Acclaimed author Midge Gillies gathers together the personal accounts of those who still remember this time, with written sources from contemporary press reports, to diaries and letters, to illustrate and recreate the fear, suspense and even excitement of living in England in the shadow of the Nazis. A pair of sisters, determined that life should go on as normally as possible, carry on swimming and playing tennis - only to find themselves under suspicion of being sympathisers because of their seemingly carefree attitude. A group of former poachers and gamekeepers huddle in a woodland hideout, newly trained and prepared to blow up bridges and slit German throats. Citizens hide their most treasured possessions from the Nazis in biscuit tins, or bury them in graveyards.
Over the weekend of September 7th, the code word for high alert flashed round the country, and with tensions at their height many assumed it to mean that the Nazis had already landed. Sunday September 8th was declared a National Day of Prayer - and seemed to many to be the beginning of the end.
This is a compelling and evocative account of what it was like, for that short period in 1940, to be waiting for Hitler.
'Gillies has written a wonderful book, packed with the authentic voices of the past. What might in other hands have been a rather depressing read becomes, thanks to her careful touch, a witty yet moving exploration into Britain and Britishness at its blundering, heroic best.' - The Mail on Sunday
'A brilliant book and will be enjoyed by people from every generation' - Tony Benn
'This is the best kind of social history... a feast' - Margaret Forster
PRAISE FOR MIDGE GILLIES' PREVIOUS BOOKS - -
...diligent, vivid and stirring... Her book is perceptive without being over-analytical, colourful without being overegged... I was gripped, exhilarated and moved by it. - Sunday Telegraph
Fascinating and well-researched - Independent on Sunday
... not just an accomplished biography, but a riveting slice of social history. - Mail on Sunday
A vivid evocation of an era... one can almost smell the mixture of smoke, beer, winkles and champagne. - Times Literary Supplement
Midge Gillies is a freelance journalist who writes regularly for The Guardian and Los Angeles Times as well as for the Press Association. She was a consultant and contributor to The Real Amy Johnson, a Channel 4 Documentary. Her biography of Marie Lloyd was chosen as a Sunday Times biography of the year.