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The First Day of the BlitzThe First Day of the Blitz

September 7, 1940

Peter Stansky

Narrated by Neil David West

Available from Audible

Book published by Yale University Press

On September 7, 1940, the long-feared and anticipated attack by the German Luftwaffe plunged London into a cauldron of fire and devastation. This compelling book recreates that day in all its horror, using rich archival sources and first-hand accounts, many never before published. Eminent historian Peter Stansky weaves together the stories of people who recorded their experiences of the opening hours of the Blitz. Then, exploring more deeply, the author examines what that critical day meant to the nation at the time, and what it came to mean in following years.

Much of the future of Britain was determined in the first twelve hours of bombing, Stansky contends. The Blitz set in motion a range of responses that contributed to ultimate victory over Germany and to a transformation of British society. The wave of terror, though designed to quash morale, instead inspired stoicism, courage, and a new camaraderie. The tragic London bombing can reveal much of relevance to our own violent times, Stansky concludes: both the effectiveness of modern terror and its ultimate failure are made powerfully clear by the events of September 7, 1940.

Peter Stansky is Frances and Charles Field Professor of History, Emeritus, Stanford University.


“This is a fascinating narrative of the Blitz, and it covers much more than just the first day.”

—Birmingham Post

“There is no shortage of books about the Blitz, but Peter Stansky’s is up there with the best.”

Time Out

“Excellent.... The First Day of the Blitz is well written, and would make profitable reading for anyone with even a passing interest in history.”

—The New York Military Affairs Symposium Review

“Stansky makes well-judged use of eyewitness accounts to highlight the reality behind the myth.”

Sunday Times

“The 'Blitz' is now the stuff of legend, but from a wider perspective Stansky characterizes its failure as evidencing a fundamental transformation in the British psyche. Using a variety of archival sources and unpublished testimonies, he convincingly argues that in the darkness of the Blitz can be seen the birth of a new national identity — one that paved the way for the 1945 Labour victory and the birth of the welfare state.”

The Good Book Guide

“It is the eyewitness accounts of the horror and terror of that awful night as told in the diaries, memoirs and recollections of everyday Londoners that make up much of this engrossing book and give it an added poignancy.”

Newark Sunday Star Ledger

“A highly meditative work in which the voices of those who lived through that terrible day and night nevertheless predominate, The First Day of the Blitz is a timely addition to the historical literature on the civilian experience of the Second World War.”

Journal of British Studies

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University Press Audiobooks