Spartacus Review

Volume 57: 26th February, 2012

Second World War

Title: Warfare State

Author: James T. Sparrow

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Price: £22.50

Bookshop: Amazon

Spartacus Website: Franklin D. Roosevelt

Category: Second World War

Although common wisdom and much scholarship assume that "big government" gained its foothold in the United States under the auspices of the New Deal during the Great Depression, in fact it was World War II that accomplished this feat. Indeed, as the federal government mobilized for war it grew tenfold, quickly dwarfing the New Deal's welfare programs. Warfare State shows how the federal government, in the course of World War II, vastly expanded its influence over American society. Equally important, it looks at how and why Americans adapted to this expansion of authority. Through mass participation in military service, war work, rationing, price control, income taxation and ownership of the national debt in the form of war bonds, ordinary Americans learned to live with the warfare state. They accepted these new obligations because the government encouraged all citizens to think of themselves as personally connected to the battle front, and to imagine the impact of their every action on the combat soldier. By working for the American Soldier, they habituated themselves to the authority of the government. Citizens made their own counter-claims on the state--particularly in the case of industrial workers, women, African Americans, and most of all, the soldiers. Their demands for fuller citizenship offer important insights into the relationship between citizen morale, the uses of patriotism, and the legitimacy of the state in wartime. World War II forged a new bond between citizens, nation, and government. Warfare State tells the story of this dramatic transformation in American life.

Title: Blitz Kids

Author: Sean Longden

Publisher: Constable & Robinson

Price: £20.00

Bookshop: Amazon

Spartacus Website: The Blitz

Category: Second World War

From the dangers of London streets during the Blitz to working on the high seas in the Merchant Navy during the Atlantic Convoy, children were on the frontline of battle during the Second World War. In Sean Longden's gripping retelling of the conflict, he explores how the war impacted upon a whole generation who lost their innocence at home and abroad, on the battlefield and the home front. Through extensive interviews and research, Longden uncovers previously untold stories of heroism and courage: the eleven year old boy who was sunk on the SS Benares and left in frozen water for two days; the teenage Girl Guide awarded the George Medal for bravery; the merchant seaman sunk three times by the age of seventeen; the fourteen year old who signed up for the army three times before finally seeing action in the Normandy campaign; the fourteen year old 'Boy Buglers' of the Royal Marines on active service onboard battleships; as well as the harrowing experiences of the boy who was survived the Bethnal Green Tube Disaster; the horrors of being a child captive in the German PoW camps. Blitz Kids will change forever the way one sees the relationship between the Second World War and the generation - our grandparents and great grandparents- who bravely faced the challenge of Nazism. Allowing them to tell their stories in their own words, Sean Longden brings both the horrors and the humour of young lives lived in troubled times.

Title: Survivor of the Long March

Author: Charles Waite

Publisher: History Press

Price: £20.00

Bookshop: Amazon

Spartacus Website: The Soldiers

Category: Second World War

Nothing prepares a man for war and Private Charles Waite, of the 2/7th Queen's Royal Regiment, was certainly ill-prepared when his convoy carrying supplies of petrol and ammunition on its way to Dunkirk took a wrong turning near Abbeville. They met half a dozen German tanks on the road and saw hundreds of German soldiers marching across fields towards them. 'The day I was captured, I had a rifle but no ammunition.' Charles lost his freedom that day in May 1940 and didn't regain it until May 1945 when he was finally picked up by the Americans, having walked 1600km from his prison camp attached to Stalag 20B in East Prussia. 'When I got back I couldn't tell anybody about what had happened during my years as a POW. I was ashamed. I hadn't won any medals; I had no stories of brave deeds. How could I be proud of breaking rocks for 12 hours day or pulling cabbages out of frozen ground at gunpoint? Would they have wanted to hear about the wounded soldiers dying in my arms, of the acts of cruelty I witnessed, and the terrible hunger and fatigue suffered on the Long March? Everybody wanted to forget the war and get on with rebuilding their lives.' Silent for 70 years, for the first time he has put his story on paper. He describes his first march from Abbeville to Trier and journey by cattle truck across Germany to the east; working in a stone quarry and years of farm labour; his period in solitary confinement for sabotage; and the Long March home in the one of the worst winters on record. His story is also about friendship, of physical and mental resilience, and of compassion for everyone who suffered.