by Richard Holmes
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010. Pp. x, 246.
Illus., maps, notes, biblio., index. $27.50. ISBN: 9780300160406
Churchill's Bunker, by the late Richard Holmes, a former soldier and military historian, deals with the secret underground facilities established to shelter the prime minister, cabinet, and military leaders during World War II.
The focus of Churchill's Bunker is not on the art and science of bunker construction, although these are adequately covered, with insights into often highly ingenious approaches to securing facilities that were under existing buildings without disturbing the structures above them or tipping off the enemy as to the activity.
Holmes, author, among many other works, of biographies of Marlborough (2009) and Wellington (2003), as well as profiles of the British soldier in the age of musket and saber, in India, and on the Western Front, Redcoat(2002), Sahib (2006), and Tommy (2005), is much more interested in the political and military aspects of the bunkers. So he looks at pre-war perceptions of the threat from the air, as well as surprisingly detailed pre-war preparations to cope with it. He examines how the facilities evolved to meet the needs of Churchill and the War Cabinet, and the day-to-day life of those who lived and worked under the often doubtful protection they
In the process, Holmes also provides many interesting, often enlightening glimpses into Churchill's infinitely interesting character, as well as that of many of the other leading lights of Britain's war effort. Recommended.