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Blitz Spirit Reviews

Blitz Spirit by Becky Brown

Blitz Spirit: Voices of Britain Living Through Crisis, 1939-1945

Becky Brown

Score pending

2 reviews

Category: History, Non-fiction
Imprint: Hodder & Stoughton
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Publication date: 8 Oct 2020
ISBN: 9781529347050

Becky Brown mines the Mass Observation Archive for wartime experiences of 1939-45 to show how the lives of people now generations away have relevance to our twenty-first century experience - living amidst a global pandemic.

4 stars out of 5
Ysenda Maxtone Graham
20 Dec 2020

"(A) peek into the nation’s wartime diaries"

Yet gradually, the euphoria of approaching victory does take over, and we’re with the diarists as they throng Piccadilly on May 8, 1945. But these diaries would not be a true reflection of the British character without necessary shots of bathos. And here is one, right on cue. The accountant in Sheffield, who has been saving up his precious can of tinned chicken for six years to enjoy as a celebratory treat, is “somewhat disappointed” on opening it. “Although it is genuine chicken — bones, skin and meat — it is spoiled by aspic jelly.” It’s not surprising, with such jellified horrors appearing under the tin-opener, that the nation suffered from post-VE Day tummy aches.


5 stars out of 5
Lucy Scholes
16 Nov 2020

"This anthology of wartime Mass Observation diaries is exquisitely moving – and strangely timely"

Unlike the very many books and films “bathed in the golden glow of ‘Blitz Spirit’,” what makes these accounts “so valuable and so poignant,” argues Brown, is that they’re “riddled with fear and defeat”. Reading them now, while enduring a collective crisis of our own, one can’t help but draw parallels. I felt the pain of the widowed housewife bemoaning rationing, the loss of scattered and absent friends, and the “beastly long” blackouts. “Every­thing seems reduced to a vast, drab boringness,” she writes.