The Second World War represents the most traumatic experience that British culture has undergone this century, and the story of that crisis has until now remained essentially unwritten and repressed. In Imagination at War Adam Piette analyses the fiction and poetry produced between 1939 and 1945 to uncover the dark imagination that has shaped postwar thinking, concealed behind the facade of public nostalgia for and glorification of the war. He finds broken minds drugged by the image of an embattled island; stories of ghostly private imaginations strangely remote from the world at war, yet pitilessly invaded by the lies bred by its propaganda. The war created a world of simulacra, screens, camouflage, and unreal enemies, while the Blitz turned the mind inwards at the same time as it emptied the self of private emotions. Looking closely at writers such as Alun Lewis, Evelyn Waugh, Alan Ross, and Elizabeth Bowen and at influential reviews such as Horizon, Piette captures the intellectual reaction to the war in Britain and the book acts as a corrective to those who feel that the 1939-1945 conflict takes second place to the First World War in terms of literary output and value.
Traditionally, ‘the right of the line’ is the vanguard, the place of honour and greatest danger in battle. In this history of the Royal Air Force during the European War of 1939-45, John Terraine shows how the RAF, which in 1939 was small and inadequate for the task it was called upon to perform had, by the end of the war, taken up its proper position. He describes the build-up to war, the early tests in France and at Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain, the Battle of the Atlantic, the RAF in North Africa and the Mediterranean, the strategic air offensive over Germany and eventual victory in Europe. ‘His best book yet’ The Times ‘John Terraine is a fine historian … but he also believes that history should be exciting and readable’ The Listener