Angus Calder an appreciation

When The People’s War was published in 1969 on the thirtieth anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War, it set a gold standard for Home Front studies that has never been equalled. It has remained in print ever since, read for nearly forty years by those who remembered and those who never knew.

Angus Calder was the son of the Daily Herald journalist, Peter (later Lord) Ritchie Calder, who had continually campaigned for a better deal for Churchill’s ‘unknown warriors’ from a wartime government that in his view had ‘let the people down’. To his son this seemed a progressive betrayal after 1945 of the sacrifices, the promises and the possibilities of a ‘people’s war’. His book elaborated this theme by giving due weight not just to the early wartime period of evacuation, rationing, blackout and blitz, but also to the long years of endurance when Britain was obliged to become, in Calder’s words, ‘an India rubber island’ and sustained demands were made of its civilian population.

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