The West End Front: The Wartime Secrets of Londons Grand Hotels review ´ 0

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The Ritz the Savoy the Dorchester and Claridge's during the Second World War they teemed with spies con artists deposed royals and the exiled governments of Europe And now Matthew Sweet's West End Front is just as teeming with the incredible cast of characters from this uniue period of London's historyMeet the girl from MI5 who had the gravy browning. This guide to the world beneath the facade of the grand hotels of London during the Second World War is a book which was always going to be up my street There would be the normal wartime intrigue and British stoicism in the face of German bombs; there would be the lives of real people trying to cope with it all; but there would also be the added spice of grandees – men of state millionaire playboys celebrities – all thrust together with the war spinning around them And yet despite some fascinating material The West End Front was never as compulsive as I wanted it to beTrue there are some great tales – including conmen and other criminals the gay underground in the hotel bars abortionists revolutionaries and political activists And yet I don’t think Matthew Sweet makes the most of this material He has a habit of wandering down side alleys that are clearly highly interesting to him but are never made as interesting to the reader For example the yarn about the Yugoslav King staying at the hotel does go on many pages than it should although it does allow the tale of the assassination of his father one of the first such murders caught on film and available to view on youtube As such there are some genuinely intriguing tales here stories I enjoyed very much and yet the whole left me underwhelmedThe author clearly has a great fondness for the rather archaic term ‘hugger mugger’ and wields it again and again – as if waging a one man campaign to bring it back to popular usage At first I found this habit a little jarring but after a while I got onboard and decided that all authors should take an old fashioned word or phrase and hammer it into the ground throughout their work in an effort to rehabilitate them Mine will be ‘lubricous’

review The West End Front: The Wartime Secrets of Londons Grand Hotels

The West End Front The Wartime Secrets of Londons Grand HotelsLicked from her legs by Dylan Thomas; the barman who was appointed the keeper of Winston Churchill's private bottle of whisky; the East End Communist who marched with his comrades into the air raid shelter of the Savoy; the throneless prince born in a suite at Claridge's declared Yugoslav territory for one night only Matthew Sweet has interviewed th. This book begins with a great anecdote about the start of the Second World War but nothing that follows matches the opening for clarity and impact The book falls between being a 'popular read for the lay person and a text book If I was writing my MA dissertation on the home front during the war this book would be essential reading But I'm not and I found many passages heavy going That said if you want to know how some of the upper classes spent their war this provides a very valuable insight As always the political canard 'We are all in this together did not apply to those with wealth an connections

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The West End Front: The Wartime Secrets of Londons Grand Hotels review ´ 0 ½ The Ritz the Savoy the Dorchester and Claridge's during the Second World War they teemed with spies con artists deposed royals and the exiled governments of Europe And now Matthew Sweet's West End Front is just as teeming with the Em all for this account of the extraordinary events that unfolded under the reinforced ceilings of London's grand hotelsUsing the memories of first hand witnesses the contents of newly declassified government files and a wealth of previously unpublished letters memoirs and photographs he has reconstructed a lost world of scandal intrigue and fortitud. A very enjoyable and different approach to the war in London and society See Bettie's review for the episodes as read on BBC Radio 4's Book of the Week I am sure the printed version will be as good as the audio where Kenneth Cranham narrated this so well