Thursday 25 October 2012

Book Review - First World War Britain

First World War Britain by Peter Doyle



A readable overview of the main issues faced by those living in Britain during the First World War. It covers a wide range of issues from family life, food and rationing, munitions factories and female workers, transport to entertainment. It also sets out the context of life prior to the outbreak of war, international relations and movements for social change.

The book is general in its outlook with many of the examples being London based but there are some from other areas for example the 1916 explosion at the gunpowder Mill at Faversham, Kent and the coastal bombing of Scarborough and Hartlepool in 1914. However although home front issues affected everyone in the country the impacts would have been different according to local conditions. The stories of how they affected people are played out in the detail of the individual cases and examples in local documents and hopefully more of these will emerge in the run up to and during the centenary.

There are references in the book to people having higher levels of disposable income from War work which they used to spend on necessities such as food which in turn led to improvements in health. However I’m not sure how this fits with the increased food prices, debates of the war wages committee and the industrial unrest in Yorkshire during 1917. It would be an interesting subject to compare the health statistics for Bradford before and after the war and if a change is identified to ascertain what conditions might have affected that change.

There is generally less awareness of home front issues in WW1 than WW2 and this book provides a great introduction to those issues for those coming to the subject for the first time.

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