Agatha Christie. Death in the Clouds. London: HarperCollins, 2001 . I am ashamed to admit it, but I have read very little British fiction from the early twentieth century, aside from thesis-related stuff and some science fiction. So I'm trying to remedy that, by reading characteristic and/or significant novels from my period. Christie's Hercule Poirot novels are certainly characteristic, and since this one starts off on an airliner bound from Le Bourget for Croydon, the choice seemed clear!
Tom Harrisson. Living Through the Blitz. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1978. A classic book from the co-founder of Mass-Observation, on how the British people coped with the Blitz. Not only does it have a chapter on expectations of the air war-to-come, but there's even one on reactions to the false air raid alarm of 3 September 1939, just moments after Chamberlain's speech announcing the declaration of war. I like it.
Frederic Manning. The Middle Parts of Fortune. Melbourne: Text Publishing, 2000 . Possibly my most serious shortcoming with respect to pre-1939 literature is that I haven't read any of the "war books" that started coming out about a decade after the end of the First World War. This is a start. (I didn't even know that Manning was an Australian!)
Winston G. Ramsey, ed. The Blitz Then and Now. Volume 1. London: Battle of Britain Prints International, 1987. Lots of interesting material for social history – eg, all the false air raid alarms in the first few months of the war, reactions to the propaganda quickie The Lion Has Wings – along with geeky fun like the Starfish decoy airfield system, and diagrams of the detection lobes of the Chain Home/Chain Home Low radar systems. No references, which drives me batty, but much of it is from Home Office daily intelligence logs. This volume covers the period from the start of the war until 6 September, 1940.
P.G. Wodehouse. The Code of the Woosters. London: Penguin, 1999 . I have at least read a little Wodehouse before (The Swoop! is a great parody of the Edwardian invasion genre), but now I wonder why I haven't read more! (Airminded language: 'And now the All Clear had been blown, and I had received absolute inside information straight from the horse's mouth that all was hotsy-totsy between this blister and himself', p. 42.)
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