Title: The Scousers
Author: J. Giambrone and Doreen M. Doyle
Genre: World War II History, World War II Memoir
One Liverpool family’s struggle to survive the Second World War, as the city was flattened by German bombers and the men were far away at sea fighting to save England.
Three sisters, Eileen, Lucy, and Nell, with their two brothers, Tom and Jack, find love and build families at the end of the 1930s. The nation lives in dread that a new war will break out in Europe and spread to home. Upon hearing the King’s speech, the country transforms to a wartime footing.
Tom is already in the Merchant Navy and Jack steals his brother’s identity to also go enlist. As they train and prepare for the worst, still the war remains far away from Tom’s wife Gladys and her new baby. The families live their lives and play music at a local pub.
Once the massive evacuation of children sends thousands off to Wales, Lucy and her sisters decide to keep their children at home with them. The German Blitz rains bombs onto Liverpool in an effort to destroy the port. Neighborhoods near the docks are flattened one after the other, as the Germans try to disable the crucial shipping. Lucy’s house is bombed, and so is Gladys’, with her and the three children stuck inside beneath the rubble.
No matter, they move onto another house farther inland. Times are desperate, very little food. Diphtheria breaks out and claims scores of helpless children. It’s a miserable subsistence, and every night the Gerries send more than a hundred bombers to destroy what remains of Liverpool. In the middle of this chaos and carnage, Doreen was born. She naturally feels a solemn duty to tell this story.
Jack Whitney’s merchant ship was sunk by German U-Boats. As he floated in the oily, frigid sea, waiting to die, his best mate went mad and pulled the plug on his life vest, and drowned. After hours of waiting, as the battle continued across the water, another ship arrived on the scene looking for survivors. Beating the odds Tom Whitney, the older brother, plucked his little brother out of the North Atlantic. Tom, a gunner, was next sent to the Pacific theater to retake the Philippines and advance on Japan.
Post-war, dire poverty remained the greatest obstacle to survival. The kids schemed to make it through and better themselves, and the family did survive to tell the tale.
A biography that is, simply put, a living and breathing time-lapse look into the lives and times of the people of Liverpool from the 1930s and on in the 20th century. The author pulls no punches and certainly has earned a red badge of courage for making it out of what was never an easy life. The lack of regret shown by the others is also heartening. The people in Liverpool who didn't have much and then suffered WW2 bombings - and then didn't have anything are such a plucky lot.
One strident and crucial aspect of this book is the brilliantly worded point about how critical the NHS is to the UK. The introduction of the NHS saved lives and to take it away now will simply cause people to die.
The author offers such a great look back into the troubled times of mid-century Liverpool that this book should be read by every person born since 1980 so they can get a feel for what life really was like back then. This is life with no cell phones, no indoor washrooms, no hot water, and children dying of preventable disease. This history needs to be re-learned and fast.
There is a positive nature about this story - one that illustrates the power of the human spirit. Even during one of the darkest periods in Doreen’s life, she finds one of the best things to happen to her.
Something else that was impressive was how the author seamlessly answered questions that sprung out of the book without beating the reader over the head with the process. A truly wonderful book that courageously defines British civic history from the 1930s on. Well written and well-edited. A great book.
My Rating: 5 stars
Buy it Now:
Amazon US Hardcover https://www.amazon.com/Scousers-Doreen-Margaret-Doyle/dp/1644560879
Doreen Doyle was born during the Second World War in Liverpool UK. Raised during the aftermath of the war, life was a daily struggle to survive. She gathered her family's stories to keep them alive so that the horrors of war would not be forgotten and this little bit of British history would be preserved.
Joe Giambrone is the author of a variety of novels, stories, and films, from the Hollywood satire Hell of a Deal, to the end-of-the-world teen survival thriller Transfixion. He then dove into the gritty world of stand-up comedy and the Wrecking Balls hell bent on succeeding in it. Demigods is his latest book, based on the screenplay of the same name; the story departs from expected tropes as a kind of parallel earth in touch with Dark Matter. He also has filmed award-winning documentaries in Northern California for community access television, as well as narrative short films. He's currently working toward producing and directing a feature comedy movie.
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Reviewed by: Mr. N