Dying for the nation

Death, grief and bereavement in Second World War Britain

By Lucy Noakes

Dying for the nation


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-8759-2
  • Pages: 304
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £80.00
  • Published Date: January 2020
  • BIC Category: History, HISTORY / Military / World War II, HISTORY / Modern / 20th Century, Humanities / Second World War, Humanities / 20th century history: c 1900 to c 2000
  • Series: Cultural History of Modern War


Death in war matters. It matters to the individual, threatened with their own death, or the death of loved ones. It matters to groups and communities who have to find ways to manage death, to support the bereaved and to dispose of bodies amidst the confusion of conflict. It matters to the state, which has to find ways of coping with mass death that convey a sense of gratitude and respect for the sacrifice of both the victims of war, and those that mourn in their wake. This social and cultural history of Britain in the Second World War places death at the heart of our understanding of the British experience of conflict. Drawing on a range of material, Dying for the nation demonstrates just how much death matters in wartime and examines the experience, management and memory of death.

The book will appeal to anyone with an interest in the social and cultural history of Britain in the Second World War.


'This thoughtful book reminds us that societies interpret mass death on rhetorical, discursive and mnemonic levels, but people also live with its harsh practicalities, as death intersects with lived everyday experience and emotion. This deeply significant book thus has much to teach both historians and a wider readership today.'
Twentieth Century British History


Introduction: death, grief and bereavement in wartime Britain
1 Shadowing: death, grief and mourning before the Second World War
2 Feeling: the emotional economy of interwar Britain
3 Planning: imagining and planning for death in wartime
4 Coping: belief and agency in wartime
5 Dying: death and destruction of the body in war
6 Burying: the disposal of the war's dead
7 Grieving: bereavement, grief, and the emotional labour of wartime
8 Remembering: remembering and commemorating the dead of war
Conclusion: the personal and the political



Lucy Noakes is the Rab Butler Professor of Modern History at the University of Essex

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