In This Review

Rich Relations: The American Occupation of Britain, 1942-1945
Rich Relations: The American Occupation of Britain, 1942-1945
By David Reynolds
Random House, 1995, 555 pp.

A brilliant study of what the massive presence of G.I.s in wartime Britain meant to the English and to American troops, of which there were 1.5 million just before D-Day and a total of 3 million over the entire war years. An account of official policies, of Allied cooperation and wrangling, of actual lives lived and, in many cases, subsequently and often faultily remembered. A generous work, from which, inter alia, Eisenhower emerges as an inspired and caring commander for whom harmonious relations with the English was a high priority. The author, an English historian married to an American architect, is particularly sensitive to the fate of black G.I.s, segregated by prejudice and often policy, who experienced official British racism and also a country that was far freer of the color line than the country from which they came and to which, often wiser, they returned. This emphatic work, widely researched, lucidly written, with its sensitive and imaginative analyses, focuses on neglected aspects of what--for all the difficulties and dark sides--was surely the gentlest "occupation" of the entire war.