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Auntie's War: The BBC during the Second World War
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Auntie's War: The BBC during the Second World War (Paperback)

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On 15th October 1940 during the BBC Nine O'Clock News, a 500 pound bomb hit Broadcasting House. It crashed through two floors, killing seven. Listeners heard a muffled thud and a whisper, 'Are you alright?', but the duty newsreader continued the bulletin almost without a pause ...

The British Broadcasting Corporation is unlike any other British institution. Its story during the Second World War is our story. This was Britain's first total war and the wireless brought it into every living room for the first time. And in those key moments of our collective memory - from Chamberlain announcement of War to D-Day - the BBC was a presence, sometimes playing a critical role and more than often defining how these events were passed on to us.

Auntie's War is a love letter to radio. While these were the years when her sometimes bossy tones earned the BBC the nickname Auntie, they were also a period of truly remarkable voices: Churchill's fighting speeches, De Gaulle's exile broadcasts, JB Priestley, Ed Murrow, George Orwell, Noel Coward and Richard Dimbleby. Radio offered an incomparable tool for propaganda; it was how allies sent coded messages across Europe; it was home to `black radio', a means of sending less than truthful information to the enemy. At the same time, eyewitness testimonies gave a voice to the everyman securing the BBC's reputation as reliable purveyor of the truth.

Following the BBC's wartime journey, Edward Stourton is a brilliant companion, sharp-eyed, wry and affectionate while investigating archives, diaries, letters and memoirs to examine what the BBC was and what it stood for. Recounting extraordinary stories and priceless anecdotes he has written much more than a portrait of a beloved institution at a critical time. Auntie's War provides a vivid new perspective on the war; it also offers an incomparable insight into the broadcasting culture we still have today.

Edward Stourton has worked in broadcasting for 38 years, and regularly presents BBC Radio Four programmes such as The World at One, The World This Weekend, Sunday and Analysis. He has been a foreign correspondent for Channel Four, ITN and the BBC, and for ten years he was one of the main presenters of the Today programme. Auntie's War is his seventh book.

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