Priestley’s Wars traces the personal odyssey of one of our greatest and best-loved literary figures. JB Priestley, a man whose life virtually spanned the 20th Century, was an enthusiastic volunteer in the First World War but the unpublished, never-before-seen letters he wrote while serving on the Somme vividly evoke in vivid detail the full horrors of trench warfare. They also mark the start of a transformation that would ultimately make Priestley one of the most influential voices for peace and disarmament.
In the inter-war years Priestley became a hugely successful author, playwright and broadcaster, and in the early years of the Second World War, his “Postscripts” radio broadcasts, immediately following Winston Churchill’s addresses to the nation, attracted an audience of 16 million listeners. However, Priestley’s appeals to ensure that, this time, Britain’s troops really should come home to a transformed land “fit for heroes” infuriated Churchill and the broadcasts were abruptly dropped. The scripts that provoked Churchill’s ire are also published here for the first time.
After the war Priestley's journey from youthful volunteer to passionate opponent of the horror of nuclear war was completed when he became one of the co-founders of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament - CND.
Written with the full co-operation of JB Priestley’s sons Tom Priestley and Nicholas Hawkes, Priestley’s Wars is the untold story of one of the literary giants of the 20th century, a man whose compassion and humanity also made him a potent and influential spokesman for those without the power to speak for themselves,and in him, ordinary Britons never had a more gifted nor more committed champion, in peace or war.
‘J.B. Priestley shaped the political thinking of a whole generations and contributed to the search for world peace after the bloodshed of that war.’
‘No doubt about it - this is a great book about a great writer and thinker.’
Rod Dungate, Reviews Gate
‘In the words of Michael Foot, Priestley was "one of the best friends mankind had in the 20th century". Priestley's Wars goes some way to revealing why he is still held in such high esteem.’
Alan Gibson, Socialist Review
‘This major historical work by the acclaimed historian, Neil Hanson, traces the personal odyssey of one of Britain's greatest and best-loved literary figures, JB Priestley... "Priestley's Wars" tells the full story of one of the literary giants of the 20th century, and his role in the military conflict and social change that defined the 'Great War to Cold War' era.’