Britain and World War One
Routledge – 2012 – 326 pages
The First World War appears as a fault line in Britain’s twentieth-century history. Between August 1914 and November 1918 the titanic struggle against Imperial Germany and her allies consumed more people, more money and more resources than any other conflict that Britain had hitherto experienced. For the first time, it opened up a Home Front that stretched into all parts of the British polity, society and culture, touching the lives of every citizen regardless of age, gender and class: vegetables were even grown in the gardens of Buckingham Palace.
Britain and World War One throws attention on these civilians who fought the war on the Home Front. Harnessing recent scholarship, and drawing on original documents, oral testimony and historical texts, this book casts a fresh look over different aspects of British society during the four long years of war. It revisits the early war enthusiasm and the making of Kitchener’s new armies; the emotive debates over conscription; the relationships between politics, government and popular opinion; women working in wartime industries; the popular experience of war and the question of social change.
This book also explores areas of wartime Britain overlooked by recent histories, including the impact of the war on rural society; the mobilization of industry and the importance of technology; responses to air raids and food and housing shortages; and the challenges to traditional social and sexual mores and wartime culture. Britain and World War One is essential reading for all students and interested lay readers of the First World War.
"[Britain and World War One], written in jargon-free language easily accessible to undergraduates (and with meticulous proofreading) is unreservedly recommended for purchase in all university libraries and it should henceforth figure on all reading lists on British society and the First World War." - Antoine Capet, H-Albion (H-Net)
"An excellent integrated treatment of how the war affected British society … these chapters are packed with data that provide often valuable insights into how the war was affecting Britain and British society … A valuable read for anyone interested in Britain during the Great War or of war and society." - A. A. Nofi, StrategyPage, The New York Military Affairs Symposium
"Simmonds does a particularly fine job of analyzing the shift in party politics and the response of coalition government to the crises of food, production, housing, prices, and labor… This book should be required reading for those who want to understand shifting political alliances, the challenges of managing manpower (and womanpower), and the reluctant move to conscription." - Tammy M. Proctor, The Historian
Introduction. 1. Summer’s end 2. For King and Country 3. The industry of conflict 4. The eclipse of party government 5. Workplace Women 6. Society, family and welfare 7. Food, farming and rural society 8. A question of propaganda 9. War Culture 10. After rejoicing. Land Girls. Manpower. National Kitchens. Drink. Sex and Morality
Alan G.V. Simmonds is a lecturer in Modern History at the University of Hull, UK, specializing in British society during the First World War and the inter-war era. He has published on aspects of British housing policy since 1945.