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28 April 2020

Dr Fennell's critically acclaimed book wins Templer Medal

Critically acclaimed book 'Fighting the People's War' by Dr Jonathan Fennell

Book sleeve

Dr Jonathan Fennell's highly acclaimed book 'Fighting the People’s War: The British and Commonwealth Armies and the Second World War' (Cambridge University Press, 2019) recently won the Society for Army Historical Research’s Templer Medal in 2020.

It was also awarded the silver medal in the Military History Matters Book of the Year 2020 (a prize decided by public vote) and is currently shortlisted for the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) Duke of Wellington Medal for Military History, and the British Army Military Book of the Year. The book was one of The Guardian Readers' ‘Books of the Year, 2019’, one of the Cambridge University Press Bookshop’s ‘Books of the Year, 2019’, one of The Sunday Times, Best Books of 2019 So Far April – July 2020 and was on Keith Simpson MP Summer 2019 Reading List.

Fighting the People's War is an unprecedented, panoramic history of the 'citizen armies' of the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand and South Africa, the core of the British and Commonwealth armies in the Second World War. Drawing on new sources to reveal the true wartime experience of the ordinary rank and file, Dr Fennell fundamentally challenges our understanding of the War and of the relationship between conflict and socio-political change.

He uncovers how fractures on the home front had profound implications for the performance of the British and Commonwealth armies and he traces how soldiers' political beliefs, many of which emerged as a consequence of their combat experience, proved instrumental to the socio-political changes of the postwar era. Fighting the People's War transforms our understanding of how the great battles were won and lost as well as how the postwar societies were forged.

Dr Jonathan Fennell is a Reader in Modern History at King’s College London. He joined King’s in 2009, after completing a Doctorate in History at the University of Oxford in 2008. Jonathan is Co-Director of the Sir Michael Howard Centre for the History of War and Co-Founder and President of the Second World War Research Group (SWWRG).

‘Jonathan Fennell’s astonishing book is full of compelling arguments that complete the puzzle of British, Commonwealth and Imperial victory in WW2. It’s quite fantastic and revealing ... an incredible story. Absolutely recommend it.

Al Murray, Historian & Comedian

Weighty, admirably uncomfortable account' by 'an impressively..thoughtful young historian'. 'This is a fascinating and important book, which brings together a mass of information..never before assembled under one roof'.

Sir Max Hastings, Sunday Times

Jonathan Fennell has produced a compelling and magisterial history of the British and Commonwealth armies between 1939 and 1945 ... Fighting the People’s War establishes Fennell as among the leaders of the next generation of Second World War scholars

Jonathan Boff, History Today

Incredibly well-researched, brilliantly written and quite frankly, an outstanding book

- History of War

In this story

Jonathan Fennell

Professor of the History of War and Society