Allport explores Great Britain’s WWII experience

Allport Britain at BayIn his new book, "Britain at Bay: The Epic Story of the Second World War: 1938-1941"(Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group), Maxwell history professor Alan Allport traces the history of Great Britain in the early years of the Second World War. Allport begins his analysis in 1938, situating Britain’s social and political climate to contextualize its internal tensions leading up to the war. Allport describes Britain’s entrance into the war, the challenges it faced, and how by September 1941 it had endured almost-catastrophic defeats to imagine a possible road to victory.

Starting with Britain’s 20th century national character, Allport explores life in Northern Ireland and its tense relationship with the British mainland. He argues that Great Britain was never a homogenous nation, but rather socially and politically fragmented. Allport also evaluates the caricatures of early war Conservative Party British PM Neville Chamberlain, challenging mainstream narratives about his feebleness; he describes Chamberlain as a tough, stubborn, and vigorous statesman whose failures were often due to his self-belief and his unwillingness to compromise. In the second half of Britain at Bay, Allport reviews Germany’s victory over France in 1940, how the war progressed into the Battle of Britain, and how it was transformed by Hitler’s attack on the Soviet Union. He plans to continue the story to the end of the conflict in a second volume.

Allport is currently an associate professor of history at the Maxwell School. His research interests include 20th century Great Britain history with a focus on the First and Second World Wars. He has a previously written two books published by Yale University Press: "Browned Off and Bloody-Minded: The British Soldier Goes to War 1939-1945," and "Demobbed: Coming Home After the Second World War," for which he received the Longman History Today Book of the year award.

To learn more about Allport’s book, please see read the New York Times review, “Rethinking Winston Churchill and Neville Chamberlain.”