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The Home Front 1939–1945 in 100 Objects (Hardback)

Colour Books Military > Frontline Books > Frontline: WWII Photographic Books WWII > Photographic Books

By Austin J Ruddy
Frontline Books
Series: In 100 Objects
Pages: 212
Illustrations: 150
ISBN: 9781526740861
Published: 6th November 2019



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A lifesaving gas mask. A ration book, essential for the supply of food. A shelter stove that kept a family warm whilst they huddled in their Anderson shelter. A leaflet dropped by the Luftwaffe that was designed to intimidate Britain’s populace during the threat of invasion. A civilian identity card over-stamped with the swastika eagle from the occupied Channel Islands. A rare, previously unpublished, snapshot of legendary American bandleader Glenn Miller playing at a UK air base. A twisted remnant of German V2 rocket that went to space and back before exploding over London, the result of equally twisted military science. Colourful flag bunting that saw the VE celebrations in 1945: All disparate objects that together tell the moving and important story of Britain’s Home Front during the Second World War.

The ordinary objects featured in this book, whether those produced in their millions to the far from ordinary or unique, all portray and exude the highs and lows of the British people during six years of war. From the deprivations of rationing and the bombing of the Blitz, to the cheery songs, elegant fashions and ‘Dig For Victory’ spirit, are all captured in colour.

The phrase ‘If only this could talk …’ is often heard: in this book, the objects almost can. All the objects have a general contextual background history and any specific known associated story is also included, all in a clear form, with cross-references to related subjects.

Packed with colour and archive photos, facts, figures, dates and statistics for easy reference, The Home Front 1939–1945 in 100 Objects is the perfect book for students, historians, collectors and general readers, enabling a clear understanding of one of Britain’s most important historical periods.

Featured in

Cheshire Ancestor, December 2021 - Family History Society of Cheshire

I recommend this book to all those seeking an understanding of the Home Front and this slice of social and military history. Well written, nicely produced, a gem of a book!

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Gallipoli Association

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. It is a must for people who are looking for information about the home front, especially those who prefer graphic resources; readers who want to learn more about the era in an enjoyable way; and it would make a great gift for those who lived through the war and still recall the events and the period. A great resource for writers and amateur historians as well.

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Author Translator

A work of great historical interest to all audiences.

Read the full Spanish review here

Miniaturas JM

A simple enough concept. But brilliant, and so very interesting.

It's a book that's perfect for picking up and paging through, just a few pages at a time. You'll learn about evacuation labels, used to send more than 800,000 British children, plus mothers and pregnant women, disabled people and others, to safety during the Blitz; posters, leaflets and keepsakes designed to keep spirits high; food, fuel and clothing vouchers needed to ration scarce but vital resources; gas masks and air raid wardens' helmets; bomb shrapnel; German propaganda that was dropped on the countryside; shelters and bunkers; a variety of home-front uniforms; incendiary bombs and firehoses; a piece of glass from Coventry Cathedral....

The list goes on. Ruddy illustrates and explains every artifact, giving each one context.

Seemingly commonplace items take on special significance when you know their stories. And be sure, Ruddy isn't just listing facts here, he's telling stories. (Some of the items are more personal than others, such as his father's identity card.)

Combined, it's a collection of Britain's high points and low points during a war that should absolutely be remembered, and shared. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

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He can write, knows his stuff, and the reproduction/photography is top notch.
The sort of book that I know (post-Corona) will lead to other visitors that wouldn't usually touch a WW2 book being caught flicking through, and that can only be a good thing.
(Thoroughly indexed, too. Hooray!)

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WW2 Talk

History of War recommends...

All About History

Well written and benefiting from superb photography of the objects, this is an excellent book and well-worth your time.

History of War magazine

Great for bitesize reading and sparking family memories too, I suspect.

Family Tree, March 2020 - reviewed by HT

Book Of The Month

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, as it's packed with information, interesting photos and is very well put together.

Britain at War, Issue 154 – reviewed by Nigel Price

A new addition to a very entertaining and informative series.. This volume views the Home Front, 1939-1945, through the prism of 100 Objects. – Highly Recommended.

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This is an essential visual reference book for anyone with an interest in collecting Home Front items, and also for anyone who wants to find out more about the sort of items that have been handed down within families or have been tucked away in drawers for years. The contextual information explaining the significance of these objects is fantastically detailed, making this a very impressive publication. The author, Austin J. Ruddy, is clearly passionate and knowledgeable about his subject, and this comes across in his writing. Recommended.

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Recollections of WWII

This book brings to life items that the population used and saw during the years 1939-45. The ration book is something that I also find interesting as I have one that belonged to my Mother. The parish magazine with a forward written by the Rev. Broadbent and how his emotions after a tragedy befell the village in which he preached really brings home the importance of these items.

A well set out and informative book, it would be of Interest to those who are taking part in a school project or those who are just interested in this period of English history. What a story these items could tell if only they could talk.

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As featured by

Antiques Diary, March/April 2020

Article: 'The items that spark memories of growing up during wartime' as featured by

South Wales Echo, 14th February 2020 - words by Brian Lee

Extract from book as featured by

Lancashire Evening Post, 15th January 2020

Article: 'Poignant words of peace and remembrance in war time letter of condolence' as featured by

The Huddersfield Examiner, 8th January 2020 – words by Martin Shaw

If you like your history books to be both informative and fun, look no further than this delightful read from Austin J Ruddy... Mr Ruddy has been a long-time collector of Home Front ephemera and he has managed to amass a fascination collage of wartime stuff. Putting it together in such a pleasing and educational way cannot have been easy, but he has smashed it and his book is a gem. Very highly recommended.

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War History Online, Mark Barnes

These "in 100 objects" books are one of the very finest ways to get to grips with how people used to live in part times. With the nostalgia genre at its very peak at the moment, our fascination with how our ancestors used to live is at fever pitch, fed by Ancestry and Find My Past websites which provide a valuable insight, but only in terms of people's names. The censuses will often give an indication of people's professions (with a huge number of people listed as "lunatic", particularly in the 19th century, when the bulk of the censuses are available, but it's essential to have visual clues as to how people lived and Austin's superb collection of "100 objects", even though a personal selection, is a terrific indication of the home front during the Second World War. Essential reading for nostalgia buffs.

Books Monthly

It is 5 stars from me for this one, I thought it was a superb book and I devoured it from cover to cover. Full of facts, colourful images and it was a delight to read – a great way to introduce some of the lesser well known items too – very highly recommended!

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Donna's Book Blog

The book is a discovery and a rediscovery page after page with unusual, tragic, sad, funny, exciting objects that tell us about the British Home Front in a new light. A book that can not miss on the shelf of fans of military and social history of the Second World War.

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Old Barbed Wire Blog

It is clear from the book that a lot of research and work has gone into this book by the author, who should be praised for such information and hard work. Now I am not of the age of the era, but being an avid fan I learnt a lot more than I expected. I had thought it would be a quick read in a night, but in reality, I spent the whole weekend reading from front to back and thoroughly enjoyed it. A book I heartedly recommend.

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UK Historian

About Austin J Ruddy

Born in North London in 1973, AUSTIN J. RUDDY was educated at Highgate School and the University of Leicester, where he attained his degree in Archaeology. He has studied and collected the social and military history of the Second World War, particularly the British Home Front, for most of his life. Austin has featured on television and radio discussing wartime history. Austin worked at the Leicester Mercury newspaper for twenty years, where he was editor of the popular ‘Mr Leicester’ daily local history page. He currently works in Leicestershire as a freelance researcher and writer. He enjoys books, gardening, animals, old buildings, music, watching football and classic comedy (sometimes they overlap), plus vegan food and drink.

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