During the Second World War, over three and a half million men served in the army, the great majority of these were conscripts; civilians from every possible walk of life, who had never expected to be soldiers, let alone go to war. This is the story behind those conscripts, as well as the regular soldiers who helped, guided and fought alongside them.
- Alan Allport
- 4.5 Mushroom Heads
The book takes, as it's starting point, the mass call up in the months preceding the start of the war and this mostly involves Yeomanry and Territorial units, some of which were just finishing their annual summer camp, and some who were activated several months prior to September 1939. However, the author looks beyond these events and - as a retrospective - at the periods before and after what became known as The Great war.
As social history, this is an invaluable book. There have been many, many books on the subject of WW2, and of those, many have looked at it from myriad points of view, but this one is the only one that I am aware of that looks at the character, the hopes and dreams, the ambitions and lives of the soldiers in this manner.
The author is an assistant professor of history at Syracuse University, in New York, and has previously written a book on demob. This particular history is a brilliant and thoughtful book, well researched and meticulously recorded, there are tremendous insights into the psyche and make up of these soldiers and their families.
This book would make a valuable and worthy addition to any bookshelf.