Book Review: Our Longest Days

In 1936 Tom Harrisson, an amateur anthropologist incensed at the London newspapers for presuming they knew what the British population thought about important issues of the day began what became known as Mass Observation Project. It was an organization established to gather opinions of the middle-class, based largely upon volunteers who kept diaries. These diaries recorded the wartime experiences of teenagers and teachers, garage assistants and housewives to list a few. What emerges is a picture of a nation under siege while its people attempt to live their lives amidst the blackouts and air raids. What is telling is the shift of priorities from being a part of the global picture to simply finding enough to eat.

Whether hoping for rain so seedlings will grow or enduring heartbreaking loss, these diaries tell of conditions that are as true in war-ravaged parts of the world today as they were in the 1930’s. Warm and illuminating, this is a testament to the British people and the human spirit.

 

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