Saturday, November 2, 2019

Women's Lives and Clothes in WW2: Ready for Action

Women's Lives and Clothes in WW2: Ready for Action is a comprehensive historical survey of clothing for women in a broad spectrum of situations in the period surrounding World War 2. Due out 2nd Feb 2020 from Pen & Sword, it's 296 pages and will be available in hardcover and ebook formats.

Though the primary resources and focus of this encyclopedic work are Western European, there are tantalizing glimpses of other cultures and textiles from other areas during the same time period. The subjects in the photos are diverse ethnically, culturally, economically, and geographically (though most are European).

The chapters are arranged thematically around work and lifestyles: volunteers, resistance, thrift/homesewing, textile industry, haute couture, aviation, maritime, underwear, weddings, maternity and several more. Each of the chapters throughout the book is well documented and footnoted. The photography is abundant and credited (and obviously of varying quality considering the age of the photographic technology of the time).

The text is accessible and warm and manages to avoid a dry academic tone whilst maintaining a high degree of scholarship. I found the written portions interesting and full of anecdotes which supported the illustrations quite well.

The resources lists provide a rich selection of references for further exploration of the topic. There's also a comprehensive cross-referenced index. In fact, the meticulous references, footnotes, and bibliography represent 11.5% of the page content and, for me, were some of the biggest positive draws for this well researched book.

This would make a solid support text for so many subjects: gender studies, history, culture, textiles, sociology, and more. It is also readable on its own merits and would make a great selection for readers of history, culture, and WW2.

Five stars.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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