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Queen Mary's diary and the recollections of an under-chauffeur to the Portuguese ambassador are two of the disparate sources Nicholson (The Perfect Summer) uses in her anecdotal account of the period between the end of WWI on November 11, 1918, and the burial of an unknown soldier in Westminster Abbey two years later. Vividly portraying the horrors of trench warfare and the misery of the bereaved and wounded, she uses the metaphor of the great silence—two minutes of stillness commemorating the armistice—to explore Britons' attempts to cope with the growing despair generated by broken promises and false hopes. Industrial unrest, advances in women's rights, increasing drug use, and the new craze of jazz reveal, says Nicolson, the clamor of the nation's progress through grief. Her sometimes affecting pastiche of Britain's post-WWI mood is marred by the absence of source notes, disconnected vignettes, and minor inaccuracies, such as the origins of the word barmy (which relates to beer's froth, not to the Barming Hospital at Maidstone) and the postwar fashion for men's wristwatches. 37 b&w photos.(June)
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ISBN-10:  0802119441
ISBN-13:  978-0802119445
Author:  Juliet Nicolson
Genre:  History
Publisher:  Grove Press
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review by . September 19, 2010
As we approach the 100th anniversary of the start of World War One, I think it's pretty much indisputable now that it, and not the second war that followed, was the watershed event of the bloody and unmourned twentieth century. Just as significant as -- and ultimately longer-lasting than -- the political changes that grew out of the war were the social changes that reshaped life in Britain and on the continent. Although we Americans experienced some of these changes, we were (blessedly) largely …
review by . July 02, 2010
This book is an excellent companion to this author's previous work "The Perfect Summer", which tells of life in England in the last years before the tragedy of the war. Here we are told the tales of what occurred to people in the aftermath of that conflict, and on to the second anniversary of the Armistice on Novemger 11, 1920, when the body of Britain's Unknown Soldier was entombed in Westminster Abbey.    We are given glimpses of the lives of many people, from the highest levels …
The Great Silence: Britain from the Shadow of the
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