1939: A People's History of the Coming of the Second World War

1939: A People's History of the Coming of the Second World War

by Frederick Taylor


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A best-selling historian’s chronicle of the dramatic months from the Munich Agreement to Hitler’s invasion of Poland and the beginning of World War II.

In the autumn of 1938, Europe believed in the promise of peace. But only a year later, the fateful decisions of just a few men had again led Europe to a massive world war. Drawing on contemporary diaries, memoirs, and newspapers, as well as recorded interviews, 1939 is a narrative account of what the coming of the Second World War felt like to those who lived through it.

Frederick Taylor, author of renowned histories of the Berlin Wall and the bombing of Dresden, highlights the day-to-day experiences of ordinary citizens as well as those who were at the height of power in Germany and Britain. Their voices lend an intimate flavor to this often-surprising account of the period and reveal a marked disconnect between government and people, for few people in either country wanted war.

1939 is a vivid and richly peopled narrative of Europe’s slide into the horrors of war and a powerful warning for our own time.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781324006794
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 05/26/2020
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 145,987
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

Frederick Taylor is the author of 1939, Dresden, The Berlin Wall, and other works of history, and he edited and translated The Goebbels Diaries, 1939–41. He lives in Cornwall, England.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

Maps xi

Introduction 1

1 September 1938: 'So, No War!' 15

2 October 1938: 'More Popular than Hitler' 41

3 November 1938: 'We Are Being Hunted Like Hares' 69

4 Winter 1938/1939: 'Does Conscription Mean That the Men Will Have to Go Away?' 105

5 Spring 1939: 'It's Hitler Again: But Don't Worry!' 143

6 April/May 1939: 'We All Love Him Very, Very Much' 183

7 June/July 1939: 'Fine, Fine, Fine. Blue and Sunshine Everywhere' 225

8 1-22 August 1939: 'To Die for Danzig?' 263

9 23-31 August 1939: 'Grandmother Is Dead' 287

10 1-3 September 1939: 'So the Madness Unfolds' 325

Acknowledgements 375

Notes 377

Sources 411

Index 421

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