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Britain’s War - Into Battle 1937 - 1941 by Daniel Todman

Daniel Todman
Daniel Todman is a historian currently at Queen Mary College, University of London. He previously held a position in the Department of War Studies at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. This book is the first part of two planned, covering the Second World War.

There have been many books written about the Second World War. What distinguishes this book from others is that the author has decided to write a history that does not conform to the usual treatment of the subject. Todman has tried to combine a number of strands covering the political, economic, and military aspects of that war. He creates a rich history which explains the reasons for decisions and actions. In doing so, and making a more complete history, it has the effect of making this book quite dense as can be seen by the page count. The language used, though, is not that academic and this makes the book quite readable. It becomes clear why he has chosen to end this part at 1941 from the narrative. The book is structured into five chronological parts, with a varying number of chapters in each part. In some cases, there is a précis of the themes to be covered in the following text. I felt that this signposting is useful and should have been done throughout the book.

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Britain’s War - Into Battle 1937 - 1941 by Daniel Todman
Penguin 2106, first published Allen Lane 2016
827 pages including maps, notes and index. Illustrations

Todman’s range of sources is quite wide, as befits the scope of the book. He draws heavily on the Mass Observation archive to gain the perspective of the ordinary man, woman or soldier. It is in this area that the book, in my opinion, excels. The sweep of the book features the entire strata of British society and offers valuable insights into the day-to-day as well as grand political and military strategy. It deserves to be a set book for a new generation learning about the Second World War.
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