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  • Published: 21 December 2011
  • ISBN: 9780718193775
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 656

The Taste of War

World War Two and the Battle for Food




A major new history from a talented young historian exploring the importance of food to who won the war, how they won it, and what we eat today

Food, and in particular the lack of it, was central to the experience of the Second World War. In this richly detailed and engaging history, Lizzie Collingham establishes how control of food and its production is crucial to total war. How were the imperial ambitions of Germany and Japan - ambitions which sowed the seeds of war - informed by a desire for self-sufficiency in food production? How was the outcome of the war affected by the decisions that the Allies and the Axis took over how to feed their troops? And how did the distinctive ideologies of the different combatant countries determine their attitudes towards those they had to feed?

Tracing the interaction between food and strategy, on both the military and home fronts, this wide-ranging, gripping and dazzlingly original account demonstrates how the issue of access to food was a driving force within Nazi policy and contributed to the decision to murder hundreds of thousands of 'useless eaters' in Europe. Focusing on both the winners and losers in the battle for food, this book brings to light the striking fact that war-related hunger and famine was not only caused by Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, but was also the result of Allied mismanagement and neglect, particularly in India, Africa and China.

American dominance both during and after the war was not only a result of the United States' immense industrial production but also of its abundance of food. This book traces the establishment of a global pattern of food production and distribution and shows how the war subsequently promoted the pervasive influence of American food habits and tastes in the post-war world. A work of great scope, The Taste of War connects the broad sweep of history to its intimate impact upon the lives of individuals.

  • Published: 21 December 2011
  • ISBN: 9780718193775
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 656

About the author

Lizzie Collingham

Lizzie Collingham taught History at Warwick University and was a Research Fellow at Jesus College, Cambridge before becoming an independent historian. Her books include Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors and The Taste of War: World War II and the Battle for Food. She is currently an Associate Fellow of Warwick University and the Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Newnham College, Cambridge. She recently completed a project researching the history of the kitchens of the Indian President’s palace and regularly lectures on a gastronomic tour of Kerala. She works in a garden shed near Cambridge.

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Praise for The Taste of War

Creates a whole new and original dimension to the disasters of war. Every page contains a fresh insight ... Powerfully written ... punctuated with brilliant micro-historical accounts, is bound to prove the most thorough and important study of the topic for many years to come

John Cornwell

A major achievement. The Taste of War presents a wholly novel approach to a conflict which still informs our understanding of the contemporary world. It will stir family memories of privation and endurance wherever it is read.

Professor Chris Bayly, author of Forgotten Armies

Food was so important and so universal an element to the experience of the Second World War that it is extraordinary no one has written its history before. Lizzie Collingham's pioneering book, ranging from the famine lands of Eastern Europe, China and India, via the development of German and Allied policies, to the new plenty of America, is a magnificent example of the new global history-writing at its very best.

Nicholas Stargardt

Every now and again a book comes along that transforms our understanding of a subject that had previously seemed so well worn and familiar. That is the measure of Lizzie Collingham's achievement in this outstanding global account of the role played by food (and its absence) during the Second World War. It will now be impossible to think of the war in the old way. She has added a whole new layer of understanding not only about the way the war was fought but about the gruelling consequences for tens of millions of non-combatants world-wide when the food chain collapsed. Now, once again, Collingham reminds us, the global food economy is facing a crisis.

Richard Overy, Literary Review

This fascinating calorie-centric history of the greatest conflict in world history is scholarly and well-written but, above all, wholly convincing. After this book, no historian will be able to write a comprehensive history of the second world war without putting the multifarious issues of food production and consumption centre stage.

Andrew Roberts, Financial Times

Lizzie Collingham's book possesses the notable virtue of originality...[She] has gathered many strands to pursue an important theme across a global canvas. She reminds us of the timeless truth that all human and political behaviour is relative.

Max Hastings, The Sunday Times

Powerful and important...Like all the best ideas, Collingham's means that a lot of events fall satisfyingly into place.

Diane Purkiss, The Independent

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