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Waste into Weapons: Recycling in Britain During the Second World War

  • The first in-depth history of twentieth-century recycling in Britain
  • Based on research at more than twenty archives in Britain and the USA
  • Reveals many new details about Lend-Lease and Anglo-American relations during World War II

Series: Studies in Environment and History

By: Peter Thorsheim(Author)

306 pages, 21 b/w illustrations, 2 tables

Cambridge University Press

Paperback | Oct 2016 | #229909 | ISBN-13: 9781107492097
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £19.99 $26/€22 approx
Hardback | Sep 2015 | #223574 | ISBN-13: 9781107099357
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £66.99 $87/€75 approx

About this book

During the Second World War, the United Kingdom faced severe shortages of essential raw materials. To keep its armaments factories running, the British government enlisted millions of people in efforts to recycle a wide range of materials for use in munitions production. Recycling not only supplied British munitions factories with much-needed raw materials – it also played a key role in the efforts of the British government to maintain the morale of its citizens, to secure billions of dollars in Lend-Lease aid from the United States, and to uncover foreign intelligence. However, Britain's wartime recycling campaign came at a cost: it consumed items that would never have been destroyed under normal circumstances, including significant parts of the nation's cultural heritage. Based on extensive archival research, Peter Thorsheim examines the relationship between armaments production, civil liberties, cultural preservation, and diplomacy, making Waste into Weapons the first in-depth history of twentieth-century recycling in Britain.



Part I. Beating Ploughshares into Swords
1. Salvage in times of peace and war
2. Persuasion and its limits
3. Britain's darkest hour
4. Private enterprise and the public good

Part II. Alliances
5. Lend-Lease
6. Waste becomes a crime

Part III. History, Culture, and Civil Liberties
7. The built environment
8. Wasting paper
9. Requisition
10. Victory and postwar


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Peter Thorsheim is Professor of History at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte.

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