Whistling in the Dark: Memory and Culture in Wartime London

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University Press of Kentucky, Jan 13, 2015 - History - 224 pages
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Few historical images are more powerful than those of wartime London. Having survived a constant barrage of German bombs, the city is remembered as an island of courage and defiance. These wartime images are still in use today to support a wide variety of political viewpoints. But how well do such descriptions match the memories of those who survived the blitz?

Jean Freedman interviewed more than fifty people who remember London during the war, focusing on under-represented groups, including women, Jews, and working-class citizens. In addition she examined original propaganda, secret government documents, wartime diaries, and postwar memoirs. Of particular significance to Freedman were the contemporary music, theater, film, speeches, and radio drama used by the British government to shape public opinion and impart political messages. Such bits of everyday life are mentioned in virtually every civilian's experience of wartime London but their interpretations of them often clashed with their government's intentions.

By exploring the differences between wartime documentation and postwar memory, oral and written artifacts, and the voices of the powerful and the obscure, Freedman illuminates the complex interactions between myth and history. She concludes that there are as many interpretations of what really happened during Britain's finest hour as there are people who remember it.


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Whistling in the dark: memory and culture in wartime London

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Freedman (fine arts, Truman Univ.) has written a short summary of her interviews with survivors of wartime London, conducted in the early 1990s. She selected many of her subjects to reflect her ... Read full review


1 Introduction
Ideology and Wartime London
Speech in Wartime London
Narratives ofWartime London
Music and Wartime London
Memories ofWartime London

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About the author (2015)

Freedman is assistant professor in the Division of Fine Arts at Truman State University.

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