SHORTLISTED FOR THE TEMPLER MEDAL BOOK PRIZE
A SPECTATOR, FINANCIAL TIMES AND DAILY TELEGRAPH BOOK OF THE YEAR 2020
‘A stunning achievement’ Max Hastings, Sunday Times
‘I cannot recommend this history highly enough’ Keith Lowe, Literary Review
The second volume of Daniel Todman’s epic history of the Second World War opens with one of the greatest disasters in British military history – the fall of Singapore in February 1942. Unlike the aftermath of Dunkirk, there was no redeeming narrative available here – Britain had been defeated by a far smaller Japanese force in her grandly proclaimed, invincible Asian ‘fortress’.
The unique skill of Daniel Todman’s history lies in its never losing sight of the inter-connectedness of the British experience. The agony of Singapore, for example, is seen through the eyes of its inhabitants, of its defenders, of Churchill’s Cabinet and of ordinary people at home. Each stage of the war, from the nadir of early 1942 to the great series of victories in 1944-5 and on to Indian independence, is described both as it was understood at the time and in the light of the very latest historical research.
Britain’s War is a triumph of narrative, empathy and research, as gripping in its handling of individual witnesses to the war – those doomed to struggle with bombing, rationing, exhausting work and above all the absence of millions of family members – as of the gigantic military, social, technological and economic forces that swept the conflict along. It is the definitive account of a drama which reshaped our country.
Magisterial. Virtually no aspect of British life is left untouched ... I cannot recommend this history highly enough. -- Keith Lowe * Literary Review * Dan Todman has written a truly global history of Britain's Second World War. His second volume opens in December 1941. Even then, Britons knew that victory would come; not when, not at what cost, but they knew victory would be theirs one day. How they got there is at the core of this book. His account is particularly striking on the tides of war in the Middle East and in Asia; on the Labour party electoral victory of 1945, and on the origins of the Cold War. Fast-paced, accessible, comprehensive; in short, a triumph. -- Jay Winter, Charles J. Stille Professor of History Emeritus at Yale University
Book experts at your service
What are you looking for?