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Britain's War Machine

3.42 of 5 stars 3.42  ·  rating details  ·  55 ratings  ·  12 reviews
GUARDIAN BOOKS OF THE YEAR 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. T ...more
Paperback, 442 pages
Published 2012 by Penguin (first published March 31st 2011)
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Community Reviews

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Tim Pendry

David Edgerton's book turns popular myths about Britain in the Second World War upside down and inside out. But a word of warning first.

He is making a point about history and not giving us a narrative so it would help if you already had some understanding of the course of the second world war and its past historiography.

There are times when the author revels in his piling up of data to prove his points - which are very many - so that some chapters require a fair amount of concentration of effort
Emmanuel Gustin
A good companion to works such as Tooze's Wages of Destruction and Collingham's The Taste of War, this work investigates British attitudes towards a war that was thought to be determined by modern technology. The British Empire was notable for its reliance on its powerful industrial basis.

Perhaps Edgerton's book is not as thorough as the two studies mentioned above. The book has a stronger political slant, as Edgerton argues that later historical interpretation of the war was strongly colored b
John Arthur 庄阿瑟
Original Post:

A shallow review I suppose – mostly summary- but such a great book I've been reading while knocking around NZ one last time in my surf van and today – Lest We Forget – I can't resist throwing it up here.

With a blizzard of fact and annecdote, Edgerton here demolishes the traditional narrative the British have told themselves: that after the fall of France amid the Battle of Britain, under threat of Hitler
R.M.F Brown
More often or not, I come across a work of history and think - this is a good book. Very rarely do I come across a book that changes my entire perception of an historical event. This book is one of them.

Students of WW2 history are familiar with the image of plucky Britain standing up to the Nazi juggernaut. Edgerton takes a mills bomb to this idea and blows it out of the water!

Using a barrage (no pun intended) of stats, tables and pages of brilliantly researched data, Edgerton turns one of the
Very data rich and does some heavy myth-busting of common misconceptions about Great Britain and the Second World War. It HAD way too many examples and failed to keep the narrative moving steadily and coherently from chapter to chapter. Don't bother with it unless you have a pretty serious interest in the technological innovations and minutiae of production in the UK leading up to and during WWII.
Sep 26, 2014 Jur marked it as to-read
Shelves: wwii, own
On the way back from a trip to the UK I dipped into the bookstore at the airport and couldn't resist a 3 for 2 Sonderangebot. The main inspiration was David Edgerton's book on the mobilisation of the Empire in Britain's War Machine. I got excited by the tables of British and overseas production as well as the maps of oil pipelines and major centres of war production. Topping that is the list of highest awards from the Royal Commission of Awards for Inventions! Edgerton weaves contemporary and ne ...more
Ian Chapman
Interesting in how the British war industry and economy came to be presented in the post-war decades. Edgerton shows the economy as very efficient, overshadowed however by the massive economic development of the USA in the 1940s. Professional academics of the 1960s and '70s were pro-marxist, and therefore downplayed this, preferring to build up the wartime achievements of the USSR. Others liked a popular image of a small island fighting a continent. An unusual and as such quite original work, we ...more
An interesting read that explores Britain's industrial capacity for making war in WW11. It can be quite dry at times and has extensive facts and figures. The title is somewhat misleading in that it's focus is industrial capacity and not the appropriateness of what was produced.
Very interesting.

A barrage of statistics to disprove some common myths about Britain especially in the first years of WW2.

Britain was more powerful, less alone, more imperial, more scientific , producing more aircraft than Germany fom erly on ... Which begs the question of why the rapid relative decline in the 40s. Well argued. Fascinating.
I bought this book because of its cover, which promised new insights, but I found it to be heavy going and rather academic, without giving me any new fundamental insights. If you have not read them yet and are looking for different perspectives then I would recommend "Bloodlands" or "The Pity of War".
Andrew Robins
This is a strange book. Starts off fantastically and convincingly, goes through a 100 page section which just bombards you with statistics, then gets it together again at the end.

Unbelievably level of research. 300 pages long, plus 150 pages of footnotes.
William J. Shep
My review will be published in the Summer 2012 issue of Finest Hour (Churchill Centre).
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