Paperback, 288 pages
Released: January 1980
In this lively and instructive memoir of his experience with the anti-Nazi underground in Italy and Yugoslavia during World War II, Basil Davidson has thrown needed light on a much-neglected part of European history. Sent to the area as a representative of the British Special Operations Executive (SOE), he is able to recount at first hand the intense determination of the revolutionary partisans, who hoped that their sacrifices would lead to a new society, and the equally determined policy of the Allies to suppress them. As the London Review of Books stated, “The true purpose of this marvelously original book is to remind us that [for the underground] the Second World War was above all a political, even a revolutionary, experience, in which liberation was not simply a matter of driving out the Germans but also involved a radical restructuring of whole societies… which had permitted the growth of appeasement, defeatism, and indigenous fascism.
“In several countries there was fought what is still, to most people in Britain and America, a quite unknown war in which ordinary people, of their own free will, endured hunger, cold, torture, and death to rid themselves not just of foreign occupation but of the whole root and branch, the causes and effects, of fascist ideology… Mr. Davidson has lifted a corner of the army blanket and reclaimed some of the lost ground of history on behalf of those who tried to shape it.”
Basil Davidson is internationally known as a historian of Africa. His many books include The Lost Cities of Africa, Let Freedom Come: Africa in Modern History, African Kingdoms, and African Slave Trade. He has taught at universities in Africa, the United States, and Scotland, and is an Honorary Fellow of the London School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).