How The Girl Guides Won the War

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A book review of How the Girl Guides Won the War by Janie Hampton

A book review of How the Girl Guides Won the War by Janie Hampton

Stars: ****

HarperCollins (2011)
320 pages

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Summary: A completely original history of one of the most extraordinary movements in the world — the Girl Guides — and how they helped win the war. Mention Girl Guides to any woman and the reaction will be strong. They either loved them or hated them; they were either proud to wear their uniform or refused to join. Whatever their feelings, most former Guides retain strong memories of their experiences. All too often regarded merely in terms of biscuit sales and sing-songs, hardly anybody is aware of the massive impact that the Guides had on gender equality and, more fundamentally, the outcome of the Second World War. In this eye-opening history, Janie Hampton explores how the Guides’ work was crucial to Britain’s victory.

When the Blitz broke out, the Guides knew what to do. They kept up morale in bomb shelters, demonstrating ‘blitz cooking’ with emergency ovens made from the bricks of bombed houses at the request of the Ministry of Food. They grew food on their company allotments and knitted for the entire country. The embodiment of the Home Front spirit, they dug shelters, provided crucial First Aid, and also assisted the millions of children who were forced to flee their city homes to safer places in the country. It is difficult to imagine what the war effort would have looked like without the Guides. Full of fond and funny anecdotes and rich social history, ‘How the Guides Won the War’ takes us on the journey of one of the twentieth century’s most extraordinary movements.

How the Girl Guides Won the War

I have been with Guiding in one way or another since 1989. I bought this book years ago but just never got around to reading it because I’m always reading review books sent to me by publishers and authors. It was time to read it.

I’m glad I did. I had no idea how much the Girl Guides did during the wars, no idea whatsoever. I also enjoyed reading about what Guide units did back then. I’ve come to the conclusion that girls in Guiding before 1960 could do so much more than Guides today. Their requirements for badges were so much more in-depth and Guides worked on badge work on their own time at every free moment. Now a days, most girls don’t even bother.

It’s important to note that it’s a British book written about mostly European Girl Guides (and China.) So as a Canadian I found some words unfamiliar. Some of them may even be unfamiliar to those familiar with British English since it’s a history book. Some words may be old-fashioned now. I couldn’t say for sure.

The book comes with two sets of black and white photos from Girl Guide Archives. These were cool to look at. They would be fun to show to Girl Guides today so they can see what Guides looked liked in the past. Certain parts of the book would even be interesting to share with the girls.

This book would be interesting even to those who weren’t in Guiding. Women especially would be pleased to read what amazing things other girls and women did during the war. It’s crazy how women were still seen as weak and emotional in the 50s when they did so much during WWII.

Highly Recommended to every Girl Guide/Girl Scout Leader and anyone who was in Guiding. Recommended to any woman.

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About Kathleen

I've been a nonfiction lover for as long as I can remember. I love children's nonfiction as well and love to share my knowledge and the books I gained them from, with the world. I wish more people would give nonfiction a chance.