Mark Atherton. There and Back Again: J. R. R. Tolkien and the Origins of The Hobbit. London: I. B. Tauris, 2012. With The Hobbit published 75 years ago this very day and the (first of three!) movies coming out in a couple of months, this is very well-timed. The author is, like Tolkien, an Oxford philologist specialising in Old English, so he's also very well-placed to explore where The Hobbit came from, in terms of language, mythology and biography. I'm pleased to see that attention is paid to the connections between Smaug's attack on Lake-town and the technological warfare Tolkien experienced on the Western Front, though there is nothing one way or the other on whether it reflects a more general fear of the knock-out blow.
Suzanne Jillian Evans. The Empire Air Training Scheme: Identity, Empire and Memory. N.p. [Melbourne]: Custom Book Centre, 2011. A reprint of a recent University of Melbourne PhD thesis on EATS from an Australian perspective (though the larger international context is well set out, and it's nice to see my trinity of Groves, Charlton and Spaight getting a guernsey). The emphasis is on how EATS was portrayed during the war (e.g. as a realisation of Empire unity) and how the men who took part saw themselves (there's a fair bit of oral history); and the questions of why Australia's very substantial involvement has disappeared from the national memory. You can actually get a PDF of this for free from here, but I don't mind supporting a fellow Melbourne graduate by buying the self-published version!
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