Public Schools and the Second World War
A historical analysis of the contribution of Great Britain’s public schools to the conduct of World War II.Following their ground-breaking book on Public Schools and the Great War, David Walsh and Anthony Seldon now examine how those same schools fared in the Second World War. They use eye-witness testimony to recount stories of resilience and improvisation in 1940 as the likelihood of invasion and the terrors of the Blitz threatened the very survival of public schools. They also assess the giant impact that public school alumni contributed to every aspect of the war effort.The authors examine how the “People’s War” brought social cohesion, with the opportunity to end public school exclusiveness to the fore, encouraged by Winston Churchill among others. That opportunity was ironically squandered by the otherwise radical Clement Attlee’s post-war Labour government, prolonging the “public school problem” right through to the present day.The public schools shaped twentieth century history profoundly, never more so than in the conduct of both its world wars. The impact of the schools on both wars was very different, as were the legacies. Drawing widely on primary source material and personal accounts of inspiring courage and endurance, this book is full of profound historical reflection and is essential reading for all who want to understand the history of modern Britain.
- 2020 David Walsh and Anthony Seldon
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