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‘National Service:

Conscription in Britain, 1945-1963′

Richard Vinen

Allen Lane

Richard Vinen’s ‘National Service’ is a serious – if often very entertaining – attempt to get to grips with the reality of that extraordinary institution, which now seems as remote as the British Empire itself. With great sympathy and curiosity, Vinen unpicks the myths of the two ‘gap years’, which all British men who came of age between 1945 and the early 1960s had to fill with National Service.

This book is fascinating to those who endured or even enjoyed their time in uniform, but also to anyone wishing to understand the unique nature of post-war Britain.


  • Vinen not only evokes a vanished period in our relatively recent past, with the help of reminiscences and recollections of many survivors from those times but also opens up many new vistas on the broader social, political and international history of post war Britain.

David Cannadine – Wolfson History Prize judge