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A rich account of the impact of the Second World War on the lives of people living in the farms and villages of Britain. On the outbreak of war, the countryside was invaded by service personnel and evacuee children by the thousand; land was taken arbitrarily for airfields, training grounds and firing ranges, and whole communities were evicted. Prisoner-of-war camps brought captured enemy soldiers to close quarters, and as horses gave way to tractors and combines farmers were burdened with aggressive new restrictions on what they could and could not grow. Land Girls and Lumber Jills worked in fields and forests. Food - or the lack of it - was a major preoccupation and rationing strictly enforced. And although rabbits were poached, apples scrumped and mushrooms gathered, there was still not enough to eat. Drawing from diaries, letters, books, official records and interviews, Duff Hart Davis revisits rural Britain to describe how ordinary people survived the war years. He tells of houses turned over to military use such as Bletchley and RAF Medmenham as well as those that became schools, notably Chatsworth in Derbyshire. Combining both hardship and farce, the book examines the profound changes war brought to Britain's countryside: from the Home Guard, struggling with the provision of ludicrous equipment, to the role of the XII Corps Observation Unit. whose task was to enlarge rabbit warrens and badger setts into bunkers for harassing the enemy in the event of a German invasion; to the unexpected tenderness shown by many to German and Italian prisoners-of-war at work on the land. Fascinating, sad and at times hilarious, this warm-hearted book tells great stories - and casts new light on Britain during the war.
Philip de Laszlo (1869-1937) was born into a humble Hungarian family in Budapest and rose to become the preeminent portrait artist working in Britain between 1907 and 1937. He painted nearly 3,000 portraits, including those of numerous kings and queens, four American presidents, and countless members of the European nobility. "Has any one painter ever before painted so many interesting and historical personages?" asked his contemporaries. There has been no biography of him since 1939, and this new account of both his life and his work draws on previously untapped material from the family archive of over 15,000 documents, to which the author has had unrivaled access. It establishes the intrinsic importance of his art and re-positions him in his rightful place alongside his great contemporaries John Singer Sargent, Sir John Lavery, and Giovanni Boldini.
This book is the history of the many splendid buildings that make up Lord's Ground, the home of cricket and the best-known ground in the world. The famous pavilion built in 1890 is recognised by cricket lovers everywhere. Equally striking and much more dramatic, is the ultra-modern Media Centre that towers above the Compton and Edrich stands. The Mound stand and the new Grandstand present a striking contrast between modern design and that of 25 years ago. In part a history of architecture, and in part an account of the development of Lord's since cricket was first played there early in the nineteenth century, this beautifully illustrated work will command the attention of all with an interest in cricket as well as students of architecture. Duff Hart-Davis has brought together a number of contributors and shaped a narrative that is at once interesting and informative.
For the very first time, The War That Never Was tells the fascinating story of a secret war fought by British mercenaries in the Yemen in the early 1960s. In a covert operation organised over whisky and sodas in the clubs of Chelsea and Mayfair, a group of former SAS officers - led by the irrepressible Colonel Jim Johnson - arranged for a squadron of British mercenaries to travel to the remote mountain regions of the Yemen, to arm, train and lead Yemeni tribesmen in their fight against a 60,000-strong contingent of Egyptian soldiers. It was one of the most uneven running battles ever waged; the Egyptians fielded a huge, professionally-trained army. The British fought back at the head of a ragtag force of tribal warriors and, ultimately, won. Egypt's President Nasser described the battle in the Yemen as 'my Vietnam'. It's a fascinating, forgotten, and rip-roaringly entertaining pocket of British military history, much in the spirit of Ben MvIntyre's bestselling Agent Zigzag and Operation Mincemeat.
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