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Men at War: Loving, Lusting, Fighting, Remembering 1939-1945

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Turner uses firsthand accounts by gay men such as Peter de Rome (who served in the Royal Air Force) and Quentin Crisp (who was rejected on account of ‘sexual perversion’) to demonstrate the variety of queer experiences during the war, and the need for nuanced study of those experiences. As the Second World War recedes from living memory, critical reflections like this – about what we do with our inheritance, both the one we are given and the one we choose – stand to become all the more important. Comparing British memory of the war with that of other countries, Turner asks why British soldiers are not remembered alongside Japanese and German men as potential perpetrators of sexual violence, despite evidence of these crimes during the Allied occupation of Germany and postwar colonial uprisings. More immediately, I was aware that the allure these characters had for many of the men in my life was due to the fact that they weren’t allowed to transgress the bounds of heterosexuality. It's the perfect riposte to any modern-day blowhard who makes sweeping claims about what our grandparents did or didn't fight for.

Turner uses his own cultural memory of the war – from his grandfather’s religiously motivated conscientious objection, to a childhood fascination with planes – as signposts for a deeper enquiry into the lives and sexualities of perhaps the most celebrated generation of British men. Lying in bed beneath Airfix fighter planes suspended from his ceiling, he would think about the men that might sit in their cockpits, and whether he could ever be one of them.

Lying in bed beneath Airfix bombers and fighter planes suspended from his bedroom ceiling, he would often think about the men that might sit in their cockpits, and whether he could ever be one of them.

A brilliant piece of writing which ALSO gave me a handy shortlist of WWII fiction/memoir to continue my reading. Interestingly it mirrors post-war behaviours among some peace-time soldiery so, perhaps, it isn't only war which brings this to the foreground. Windows users should also consider upgrading to Internet Explorer 11, Microsoft Edge, or switching to Firefox or Chrome. The title to be read and discussed is sign-posted and on sale for the whole of the previous month (with a discount for those who make it known they intend to come) and everybody is welcome, whether first-timer, part-timer or regular-timer.To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average. WWII is not the reserve of the Nigel Farages of this world (don't worry - he gets a namecheck in the closing chapters) or the Johnsons and they can't be allowed to hijack the image of what the war was and meant for those who lived and fought in it. I have to admit I'm a fan of this style of social history and the unapologetic rewriting of History with a capitol H. As someone who usually focusses on tales of WWI, and who finds WWII a little off-putting (in that main due to the reasons stated above) this book allowed me a whole new entry point to the period - one that isn't uncomfortable.

Luke Turner's tender account of servicemen's transgressive private lives, transforms our understanding of the Second World War . This book is full of stories that intriguingly, lustfully and hilariously complicates Britain's cosy and homogenous national myth about how people in that era acted, thought and felt. As the conflict moves beyond living memory and the last veterans leave us, we are in danger of missing the opportunity to gain a true understanding of this rich history. In Men at War: Loving, Lusting, Fighting, Remembering 1939-1945, Luke Turner lingers over moments from his own Second World War-obsessed adolescence. In Men at War , Turner looks beyond the increasingly retrogressive and jingoistic ideal of a Britain that never was to recognise men of war as creatures of love, fear, hope and desire.He goes inside the machines of war and strips away uniform cloth to discover the true depth and complexity of men of war as creatures of love, fear, hope and desire. I thoroughly enjoyed this sensitive, at times tragic, story of love, lust, and sexual confusion among soldiers seaman and even air-aces of WWII. Turner strips away the hero worship, the bravado and veneer of 'derring do' to show us some very human portraits of men at war. Luke Turner is a bisexual man trying to reconcile his fascination with the machinery of WWII and his sexuality.

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