January has been a successful month for Yale University Press, as ALAN ALLPORT’s Demobbed: Coming Home After the Second World War scooped the Longman – History Today Book of the Year Award. The runner-up was JAMES MATHER’s , Pashas: Traders and Travellers in the Islamic World, another Yale title.
The winner of the prestigious award was announced on 13 January. The £2,000 prize, which is given for an author’s first or second book, was awarded to Alan Allport‘s Demobbed, which chronicles what happened when millions of ex-servicemen returned home from the Second World War.
Far from being an entirely celebratory occasion, Alan Allport’s book examines how the joy of arrival was often clouded with ambivalence, regrets and fears. Returning soldiers faced both practical and psychological problems, from reasserting their place in the family home to rejoining a much-altered labour force. Demobbed also examines the civilian attitudes towards the returning soldiers, and the worry that they had been barbarized by their experiences and would bring crime and violence back from the battlefield.
In Demobbed Allport presents the darker side of the homecoming experience – an account that is in danger of being forgotten. James Mather’s Pashas, which was named runner-up, presents a similarly undiscovered story, and is also a book about journeys, albeit journeys of travellers leaving their homelands, rather than soldiers returning.
Ranging across two and a half centuries and through the great cities of Istanbul, Aleppo, and Alexandria, James Mather tells the forgotten story of the Pashas, European travellers who sought their fortunes in the Ottoman Empire. Their trade brought to the region not only merchants but also ambassadors, envoys, pilgrims, chaplains, families, servants and aristocratic tourists.
In his account James Mather describes how the Pashas both respected and learned from the culture they encountered, their lives providing a intriguing insight into the meeting of East and West before the age of European imperialism.
Click here to read an excerpt from Alan Allport’s Demobbed