Britain's War Machine

Britain's War Machine : Weapons, Resources and Experts in the Second World War

3.51 (103 ratings by Goodreads)
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The familiar image of the British in the Second World War is that of the plucky underdog taking on German might. David Edgerton's bold, compelling new history shows the conflict in a new light, with Britain as a very wealthy country, formidable in arms, ruthless in pursuit of its interests and sitting at the heart of a global production system.

The British, indeed Churchillian, vision of war and modernity was challenged by repeated defeat by less well equipped enemies. Yet the end result was a vindication of this vision. Like the United States, a powerful Britain won a cheap victory, while others paid a great price. Britain's War Machine, by putting resources, machines and experts at the heart of a global rather than merely imperial story, demolishes some of the most cherished myths about wartime Britain and gives us a very different and often unsettling picture of a great power in action
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Product details

  • Paperback | 480 pages
  • 133 x 196 x 22mm | 348g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • repr.
  • 8pp colour, 16pp b&w
  • 0141026103
  • 9780141026107
  • 166,690

Review Text

Brilliant and thought-provoking ... There are moments of edgy humour, too ... This remarkable book shows that whatever the reasons for the length of time it took to bring Hitler to heel, the quantity and quality of British war material was not among them Brendan Simms Sunday Telegraph
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Review quote

Brilliant and thought-provoking ... There are moments of edgy humour, too ... This remarkable book shows that whatever the reasons for the length of time it took to bring Hitler to heel, the quantity and quality of British war material was not among them -- Brendan Simms * Sunday Telegraph * Edgerton's book is a remarkable achievement. He re-envisions Britain's role in World War II and with it Britain's place in modernity. In place of a plucky island standing alone, he gives us a global empire of machines, not a welfare state, but a technocratic warfare state. The period will never look the same again -- Adam Tooze, author of The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy Consistently lively, stimulating and authoritative * Observer * Absolutely fascinating. This book will make you think differently about Britain's role in the Second World War -- Laurence Rees, author of Auschwitz: The Nazis and The 'Final Solution' This book has certainly changed my views ... It is a necessary and timely corrective to a great deal of loosely thought-through conventional wisdom, and makes a real contribution to our understanding of the war -- Richard Holmes * Literary Review * For too long we have had a distorted view of Britain's position and role in the Second World War. David Edgerton has produced a stunning book that rectifies this misconception, and which is told with authority, clarity and compelling energy -- James Holland, author of The Battle of Britain An important corrective to the black-and-white portrait of the period that still prevails * Financial Times * A stimulating exercise in muscular revisionism ... Offers a fresh and provocative view of our much-loved and much-misunderstood "finest hour" -- David Reynolds * Guardian * Accessibly written and deserves a wide audience. Above all, Edgerton demonstrates that the war is a subject we haven't yet heard nearly enough about. Britain's War Machine is a considerable achievement -- Graham Farmelo * Times Higher Education * Edgerton has excelled himself with this highly revisionist account of Britain's national performance during the Second World War ... an unusually provocative book * Twentieth Century British History, 2011 * Edgerton has written what could prove to be one of the most influential books on the history of the Second World War ... majestic ... [he] has successfully shown us that we still have a lot to learn about the conflict ... it will become the required reading for all students wishing to study the Second World War * Reviews in History * An astounding work of myth-busting ... Inspiring and unsettling in equal measure -- Tom Holland * Guardian * Majestic ... a wonderful read. It has probably popped more myths than any other book on the war in recent years -- Taylor Downing * History Today * Brilliant and iconoclastic ... debunks the myth that Britain was militarily and economically weak and intellectually parochial during the 1930s and 1940s -- David Blackburn * Spectator Book Blog * Truly eye-opening ... Edgerton's carefully researched book will fundamentally change the way you think about World War II * Daily Beast * Riveting ... a wonderfully rich book ... thoroughly stimulating -- Richard Toye * History * A major new assessment of Britain's war effort from 1939 to 1945. Never again will some of the lazy assessments of how Britain performed over these years ... be acceptable. That's why this is such an important book * History Today * Innovative and most important * Contemporary Review * Compelling and engaging ... an excellent read * Soldier * Edgerton's well-researched volume bursts with data that reveal Britain's true strength even when supposed to be in critical condition -- Peter Moreira * Military History * Britain's War Machine offers the boldest revisionist argument that seeks to overturn some of our most treasured assumptions about Britain's role in the war ... Edgerton [is] an economic historian with an army of marshalled facts and figures at his fingertips ... This is truly an eye-opening book that explodes the masochistic myth of poor little Britain, revealing the island as a proud power with the resources needed to fight and win a world war -- Nigel Jones * Spectator * Masterful Britain's War Machine promotes the notion that the United Kingdom of the Forties was a superpower, with access to millions of men across the globe, and forming the heart of a global production network * Mail on Sunday *
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About David Edgerton

David Edgerton is Hans Rausing Professor at Imperial College London, where he was the founding director of the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine. He is the author of a sequence of groundbreaking books on 20th century Britain: England and the Aeroplane: An Essay on a Militant and Technological Nation; Science, Technology and the British Industrial 'Decline', 1870-1970; and Warfare State: Britain, 1920-1970. He is also the author of the iconoclastic and brilliant The Shock of the Old: Technology and Global History Since 1900
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Rating details

103 ratings
3.51 out of 5 stars
5 18% (19)
4 32% (33)
3 35% (36)
2 12% (12)
1 3% (3)
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