"The year 1940 was the most significant in European history during the last century. Its reverberations are still with us. But the implications of what happened in 1940 have meant different things in different countries. For Britain it was 'the finest hour', the beginning of a People's War. How did people foresee 1940 before it happened? How were representations changed over the years? What does 1940 mean now?" "This book covers the prehistory of 1940 in Britain, tracing the great fear that a second world war would perhaps mean the end of British civilization. It charts the development in wartime culture and popular politics of the myths of Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain and the Blitz. It describes the varied ways in which the myths of 1940 have impacted on British politics and attitudes to the outside world since. Malcolm Smith argues that myths are historical events in their own right, that they form conceptions of the past, that they need explanation rather than exposure as 'lies'. The book presents a panorama of the influences that have constructed national consciousness around a crucial moment in British history."--BOOK JACKET.
Opining that the experience of 1940 was "the one genuinely heroic moment in twentieth-century British history," Smith (history, Lampeter) describes the evolution of the pre-war myth<-->in the sense of a widely-held view of the past rather than a cultural lie<--> of the "people's war" that the English held about impending World War II; treats the political and popular culture reinforcement of this myth during the Blitz; and traces the legacy of what the war has come to mean at home and abroad to the present. Illustrations feature film and newspaper images of the war. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Malcolm Smith is Senior Lecturer and Chair of History at the University of Wales, Lampeter. He teaches in the field of War Studies and British popular culture and his previous publications include British Politics, Society and the State (Macmillan, 1990).
1. Introduction 2. The Projection of War, 1919-1939 3. To Dunkirk 4. Invasion and the Battle of Britain 5. The Blitz 6. Wartime Politics and Popular Culture 7. Refighting the War: Attlee to Blair 8. America, Europe and the World 9. Conclusions 10. Bibliography