GUARDIAN BOOKS OF THE YEAR
The familiar image of the British in the Second World War is that of the plucky underdog taking on German might. David Edgerton's bold, compelling new history shows the conflict in a new light, with Britain as a very wealthy country, formidable in arms, ruthless in pursuit of its interests and sitting at the heart of a global production system.
The British, indeed Churchillian, vision of war and modernity was challenged by repeated defeat by less well equipped enemies. Yet the end result was a vindication of this vision. Like the United States, a powerful Britain won a cheap victory, while others paid a great price. Britain's War Machine, by putting resources, machines and experts at the heart of a global rather than merely imperial story, demolishes some of the most cherished myths about wartime Britain and gives us a very different and often unsettling picture of a great power in action
David Edgerton is Hans Rausing Professor at Imperial College London, where he was the founding director of the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine. He is the author of a sequence of groundbreaking books on 20th century Britain: England and the Aeroplane: An Essay on a Militant and Technological Nation; Science, Technology and the British Industrial 'Decline', 1870-1970; and Warfare State: Britain, 1920-1970. He is also the author of the iconoclastic and brilliant The Shock of the Old: Technology and Global History Since 1900