The Blitz: The British Under Attack, By Juliet Gardiner

London's burning: the view from Ground Zero

Juliet Gardiner paints a compelling picture of what it must have been like to live through the Blitz – or the "big Blitz" to distinguish it from later attacks – which began in September 1940 and lasted 243 days, until Hitler decided to attack Russia.

Using a wealth of eyewitness accounts by ordinary ARP wardens, nurses, local government officers and reports by Mass Observation, as well as more famous names such as JB Priestley and Virginia Woolf, Gardiner depicts the awful, nightly reality: the darkness, the wail of the sirens, the rubble, the dust, the blood, the smells, the scattered body parts, the corpses that had to be peeled off the walls – and the endless cups of tea that kept the nation going.

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