Medical Humanities 46 (2):154-156 (2020)

Abstract
It is something of a cliché to speak of Britain as having been transformed by the traumas of World War II and by its aftermath. From the advent of the ‘cradle to grave’ Welfare State to the end of empire, the effects of total war were enduring. Typically, they have been explored in relation to demographic, socioeconomic, technological and geopolitical trends and events. Yet as the articles in this volume observe across a variety of examples, World War II affected individuals, groups and communities in ways both intimate and immediate. For them, its effects were directly embodied. That is, they were experienced physically and emotionally—in physical and mental wounds, in ruptured domesticities and new opportunities and in the wholesale disruption and re-formation of communities displaced by bombing and reconstruction. So it is, perhaps, unsurprising that Britain’s post-war National Health Service, as the state institution charged with managing the bodies and behaviour of the British people, was itself permeated by a ‘wartime spirit’ long after the cessation of international hostilities.
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DOI 10.1136/medhum-2019-011760
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