Book Review: Fighting the People’s War


Editor’s Note: This is a book based on extensive research of world-wide literature of how Commonwealth (United Kingdom, Canada, India, New Zealand, and South African Armies) engaged in campaigns and battles and gives new insight into the international fight against Fascism, which threatened to grip the world during the era of WWII.   The author covers socio-political changes and how problems on the homefront had implications on the performance of Commonwealth Armies as well as those of the Brits.

The reader will receive a good overview of all the military histories of the British Commonwealth and questions relationships between politics, society, and the wartime experience.

Cover Image: “Back Them Up!” Second World War Propaganda Poster Courtesy of The National Archives, ref.INF13/213(40) Cover design: Andrew Ward

British classes came together in the postwar revolution that ended the Empire and gave the Commonwealth a new face brought about by alliances among participating societies, comraderie, and wartime unity…..Carol

Author’s Video

Fighting the People’s War The British and Commonwealth Armies and the Second World War by Jonathan Fennell ISBN: 9781107030954 Hardcover 953 pages $34.95 Cambridge University Press


“The British and Commonwealth Armies made numerous contributions to the peoples, institutions and states of the British Commonwealth, three of which are given considerable attention in this study: they played a key role in the military defeat of the Axis, albeit to different extents in different theatres at different times; their varying levels of performance at critical moments during the long global conflict were a factor in the declining extent and influence of the Empire; and they functioned as an instrument or conduit of socio-political change in all the countries from which they were recruited. By engaging with these three strands, this study aims to bridge the gap between traditional military histories of the British, Australian, Canadian, Indian, New Zealand and South African Armies in the Second World War and the mainstream political, social and economic histories of those countries. It is hoped that by challenging established narratives on the military history of the Second World War, the end of Empire, and war and social change, this study will make a valuable contribution to our understanding of the Second World War and its place in twentieth-century British and Commonwealth history.”


About the Author: Jonathan Fennell is a Senior Lecturer at the Defense Studies Department at King’s College London. He is a Director of the Sir Michael Howard Centre for the History of War and a Director and CoFounder of the Second World War Research Group. His first book, Combat and Morale in the North African Campaign (Cambridge, 2011) was shortlisted for the Royal Historical Society’s Whitfield Prize, was joint runner-up for the Society for Army Historical Research’s Templer Medal and was selected as one of BBC History Magazine’s “Books of the Year” 2011.


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