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© William Sansom Estate 2017

London. All rights reserved.

On the assumption that this was a book that had got to be written,

no one could have done it better than Mr. William Sansom. He is level-headed.. He is proficient in under-statement. He writes with marked sensibility and with considerable evocative power.

The Spectator

William Sansom: AFS Fireman by Ronan Thomas - Read

Westminster in War

194

Faber and Faber

Emphasis on Westminster, no Whitehall. This book doesnt describe how Government ODepartments planned the war. It describes what happened to, and in the City of Westminter during the first and second 'Blitzes' in the year 1940-1 and 1944-5​. 

Westminster is and has been, for a thousand years or so, the heart of the English capital. Parliament, the Abbey, Downing Street, all the ganglions of Government lie in Westminter. So does the West End, Hyde Park, Covent Garden. Kill Westminster, and you kill London. Over and above the common ordeal of populous towns subject to a new and devastating bombardment, the City of Westminster shared with the City of London the dangerous honour of being the enemy's main long-range objective in 'total' war, waged at a distance by new weapons of unknown power. 

This greatest passage in the history of the world's greatest capital city is admirably told, in this book, by one of the most distinguished young English writers. Mr Sansom's narrative is, first and foremost, a narrative. It is particular, not general. It tells us what happened: what theCity Council did to protect those few incredibly precious and vulnerable square miles; how life went on, adn how it was interrupted; what places were hit, and when; what was destroyed and what escaped. 

The whole account holds together as a story of astounding resonance and vitality - a story that makes Londoners proud of being Londoners, form whatever part of the Commonwealth they came. In writing it Mr Sansom has been given access to all the City records and to those of the Abbey, Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament and other national centres. 

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