The Great Silence by Juliet Nicolson
Britain from the Shadow of the First World War to the Dawn of the Jazz Age

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Synopsis

Juliet Nicolson pieces together colorful personalities, historic moments, and intimate details to create a social history of the two years following the Great War in Britain. Not since Nicolson’s The Perfect Summer have we seen an account that so vividly captures a nation’s psyche at a particular moment in history.
The euphoria of Armistice Day 1918 vaporizes to reveal the carnage that war has left in its wake. But from Britain’s despair emerges new life. For veterans with faces demolished in the trenches, surgeon Harold Gillies brings hope with his miraculous skin-grafting procedure. Women win the vote, skirt hems leap, and Brits forget their troubles at packed dance halls. The remains of a nameless soldier are laid to rest in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Westminster Abbey. “The Great Silence,” observed in memory of the countless dead, halts citizens in silent reverence.
Nicolson crafts her narrative using a lively cast of characters: from an aging butler to a pair of newlyweds, from the Prince of Wales to T.E. Lawrence, the real-life Lawrence of Arabia. The Great Silence depicts a nation fighting the forces that threaten to tear it apart and discovering the common bonds that hold it together.
 

About Juliet Nicolson

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Juliet Nicolson is the author of The Perfect Summer: England 1911, Just Before the Storm and The Great Silence: Britain From the Shadow of the First World War to the Dawn of the Jazz Age. She has two daughters and lives with her husband in Sussex, England.
 
Published June 1, 2010 by Grove Press. 320 pages
Genres: History, Travel, War. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Great Silence

The New York Times

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A history of the aftermath of World War I, when Britain strove to suppress its grief with willed gaiety.

Jul 23 2010 | Read Full Review of The Great Silence: Britain fr...

The Guardian

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If, instead of looking at the great sweep of history, you take just two years, and you find out the small, everyday things that people of all stations in life were doing – the king and his manservant, the prime minister and the postman – you can convey a sense of the past that no conventional his...

Nov 06 2009 | Read Full Review of The Great Silence: Britain fr...

The Wall Street Journal

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How the British tried to start again after the carnage of World War I.

Aug 30 2010 | Read Full Review of The Great Silence: Britain fr...

The Washington Times

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Although the guns stopped at precisely the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the carnage of the previous years continued to resonate through a relieved but partially numbed world. The charnel house couldn't morph directly into the Jazz Age, and Juliet Nicolson's "The Great Sile...

Aug 27 2010 | Read Full Review of The Great Silence: Britain fr...

The Telegraph

This is followed by: “For those who lived lives remote from the extravagant surroundings of the Savoy hotel, the simple gathering of relations reunited round a table set for tea with jam tarts and a huge currant cake in the centre, was enough.” If Nicolson concentrates on the elite, s...

Nov 09 2009 | Read Full Review of The Great Silence: Britain fr...

The Bookbag

Summary: A study of the two years which followed the end of the Great War, in which soldiers returned to what the Prime Minister promised would be 'a land fit for heroes', in which the old social order was changing fast, and in which the Edwardian Age was to be swept away by the 'Roaring Twenties'.

Apr 14 2010 | Read Full Review of The Great Silence: Britain fr...

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