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  • Published: 27 June 2011
  • ISBN: 9780141969268
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 480

Britain's War Machine

Weapons, Resources And Experts In The Second World War

A bold reexamination of Britain's role in the Second World War that challenges everything we know


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

  • Published: 27 June 2011
  • ISBN: 9780141969268
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 480

Also by David Edgerton

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Praise for Britain's War Machine

Brilliant and thought-provoking ... There are moments of edgy humour, too ... This remarkable book shows that whatever the reasons for the length of time it took to bring Hitler to heel, the quantity and quality of British war material was not among them

Brendan Simms, Sunday Telegraph

Edgerton's book is a remarkable achievement. He re-envisions Britain's role in World War II and with it Britain's place in modernity. In place of a plucky island standing alone, he gives us a global empire of machines, not a welfare state, but a technocratic warfare state. The period will never look the same again

Adam Tooze, author of The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy

Consistently lively, stimulating and authoritative


Absolutely fascinating. This book will make you think differently about Britain's role in the Second World War

Laurence Rees, author of Auschwitz: The Nazis and The 'Final Solution'

This book has certainly changed my views ... It is a necessary and timely corrective to a great deal of loosely thought-through conventional wisdom, and makes a real contribution to our understanding of the war

Richard Holmes, Literary Review

For too long we have had a distorted view of Britain's position and role in the Second World War. David Edgerton has produced a stunning book that rectifies this misconception, and which is told with authority, clarity and compelling energy

James Holland, author of The Battle of Britain

An important corrective to the black-and-white portrait of the period that still prevails

Financial Times

A stimulating exercise in muscular revisionism ... Offers a fresh and provocative view of our much-loved and much-misunderstood "finest hour"

David Reynolds, Guardian

Accessibly written and deserves a wide audience. Above all, Edgerton demonstrates that the war is a subject we haven't yet heard nearly enough about. Britain's War Machine is a considerable achievement

Graham Farmelo, Times Higher Education

Edgerton has excelled himself with this highly revisionist account of Britain's national performance during the Second World War ... an unusually provocative book

Twentieth Century British History, 2011

Edgerton has written what could prove to be one of the most influential books on the history of the Second World War ... majestic ... [he] has successfully shown us that we still have a lot to learn about the conflict ... it will become the required reading for all students wishing to study the Second World War

Reviews in History

An astounding work of myth-busting ... Inspiring and unsettling in equal measure

Tom Holland, Guardian

Majestic ... a wonderful read. It has probably popped more myths than any other book on the war in recent years

Taylor Downing, History Today

Brilliant and iconoclastic ... debunks the myth that Britain was militarily and economically weak and intellectually parochial during the 1930s and 1940s

David Blackburn, Spectator Book Blog

Truly eye-opening ... Edgerton's carefully researched book will fundamentally change the way you think about World War II

Daily Beast

Riveting ... a wonderfully rich book ... thoroughly stimulating

Richard Toye, History

A major new assessment of Britain's war effort from 1939 to 1945. Never again will some of the lazy assessments of how Britain performed over these years ... be acceptable. That's why this is such an important book

History Today

Innovative and most important

Contemporary Review

Compelling and engaging ... an excellent read


Edgerton's well-researched volume bursts with data that reveal Britain's true strength even when supposed to be in critical condition

Peter Moreira, Military History

Britain's War Machine offers the boldest revisionist argument that seeks to overturn some of our most treasured assumptions about Britain's role in the war ... Edgerton [is] an economic historian with an army of marshalled facts and figures at his fingertips ... This is truly an eye-opening book that explodes the masochistic myth of poor little Britain, revealing the island as a proud power with the resources needed to fight and win a world war

Nigel Jones, Spectator

Masterful Britain's War Machine promotes the notion that the United Kingdom of the Forties was a superpower, with access to millions of men across the globe, and forming the heart of a global production network

Mail on Sunday

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