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Britain at Bay by Alan Allport
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Britain at Bay

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Britain at Bay by Alan Allport
Paperback $20.00
Oct 26, 2021 | ISBN 9781101974698

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    Oct 26, 2021 | ISBN 9781101974698

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  • Nov 03, 2020 | ISBN 9780451494757

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  • Nov 03, 2020 | ISBN 9780593292457

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Winner of the Historical Writers’ Association Non-fiction Crown Award

“The book’s foundations are rock-solid and massive. . . . [It is] much more than a fine narrative account of great personalities and surface actions, of the history of events. It reaches to deeper levels—of geography and grand strategy, and wartime logistics, of shipping logistics and troop deployments. . . . Moreover, he does all this with a rare verbal fluency, often with irony, sometimes tongue-in-cheek. . . . Britain at Bay is beautifully written, thoroughly researched and cleverly presented. . . . I put my copy down with deep satisfaction. History writing, and historical scholarship, sometimes seems as fine as ever it was.” —Paul Kennedy, The Wall Street Journal

“Unusually informative and stimulating. . . . Quite a few received ideas are deftly skewered. . . . Valuable.”  Geoffrey Wheatcroft, The New York Times Book Review

“[Allport] moves with ease, wit and insight between the high political and diplomatic, the social and economic, the strategic and military, with biographical vignettes and anecdotes illustrating the lived experience of ordinary people. That it is an epic story there is no doubt. But the twist is that it is a tale of national decline on an epic scale.”  —The Times Literary Supplement

“Expertly researched and marvelously written, this sterling history casts an oft-studied subject in a new light.” —Publishers Weekly (Starred review)
“Allport’s provocative view will intrigue American readers. . . . These are familiar events, but Allport’s interpretation is superb.”  —Kirkus Reviews (Starred review)

Britain at Bay is a welcome and highly readable retelling of the story of Britain’s entry into the Second World War and its initial survival against great odds.  Weaving together grand strategy, high politics and the complexities of British society at the time, Alan Allport deftly demolishes some sacred cows along the way and makes the reader think again about the choices and the odds facing Britain.” —Margaret MacMillan, author of Paris 1919
“Original, compelling, timely. This is a history that reminds us of the Britain behind the myth of its Second World War. It’s a history that many will want to argue with. And that everyone should read.” —Lucy Noakes, Rab Butler Professor of Modern History, University of Essex

“Written with style and verve, Britain at Bay will make you think anew not just about the war, but about the Britain and the Britons that fought it. A book for anyone who wants to understand this crucial period in the nation’s history.” —Daniel Todman, author of Britain’s War
“The beautifully-written Britain at Bay is an impregnable fortress of good sense gallantly resisting the crass sentimentality, exaggeration, and naïve hindsight of so many accounts of Britain in the early second world war.  With great élan, built on deep reserves of historical knowledge, it puts Chamberlain and Churchill  in perspective, the Blitz, the Battle of Britain, and Battle of the Atlantic in true proportion, and the progress of the imperial war abroad in panoramic view. Its precise and pointed judgements on events, people, and arguments are a bracing reminder of the power of brilliant history to make us reconsider what we think we know about the most familiar part of the British past.”  —David Edgerton, author of Britain’s War Machine and The Rise and Fall of the British Nation.
 “Alan Allport’s Britain at Bay: The Epic Story of the Second World War, 1938–1941 is an extraordinary achievement. Written in lively prose, it tells and analyzes with great perception the story of Britain going to war and its first two years. He displays a deep mastery of the relevant primary and secondary sources and covers an amazing range of activities. He vividly depicts the period’s complicated political, military, domestic, imperial, and international aspects with a rich sense of the people involved. He provides convincing reassessments and revisions of the roles played by figures such as Winston Churchill and Neville Chamberlain, as well as other political and military leaders, both allies and enemies. This is an essential, wide-ranging, and compelling new history of these years.”  ­­­—Peter Stansky, Stanford University
“A masterfully written and hugely convincing riposte to a host of popular assumptions about World War II, Britain at Bay confirms Alan Allport’s high rank among that select group of historians who can convey serious thought through engaging prose. Anyone interested in understanding the ambiguities and paradoxes of ‘The People’s War’ should read this highly readable and stimulating book.”  ­­­—S. P. MacKenzie, McKissick-Dial Professor of History, University of South Carolina
“Simultaneously incisive but nuanced, and studded with sharp pen portraits, Britain at Bay offers a scholarly, invigorating, and beautifully constructed tour d’horizon of perhaps the four most crucial years in our island story.”  —David Kynaston, author of Austerity Britain

“This extraordinary book punctures many of the myths that have become so influential about Britain in the Second World War without robbing the period of its spectacular drama.” —Professor Richard Vinen, author of The Long ’68 and A History in Fragments


Historical Writers’ Association Non-Fiction Crown Award AWARD 2021

Table Of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Maps
A Note on Money
Part One: The British Way and Purpose
1. Shire Folk
2. Ulster Kristallnacht
3. A Different Kind of Nation
4. The School of Empire
Part Two: Umbrella Man
5. Guilty Man
6. The Bones of a British Grenadier
7. The Stupidest Thing That Has Ever Been Done
8. To Make Gentle the Life of the World
9. The Sharpening of the Claws
Part Three: Companions in Misfortune
10. The Other Dunkirk
11. Class War
12. Bras-Dessus, Bras-Dessous
13. In the Name of God
14. A Certain Eventuality
Part Four: And Only England Stands
15. Lunatic Relief
16. All Our Past Proclaims Our Future
17. Margins
18. The Scouring of the Shire Folk
Part Five: ‘A New and Most Bitter Phase of the War’
19. American Lebensraum
20. Shapeless, Measureless Peril
21. The Carotid Artery of Empire
22. Taking the Gloves Off
23. March on to Better Days

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