Julian Keeble is the Design Manager at Osprey Publishing - and I have spent many, many hours at his side working on book covers, text templates, adverts, leaflets, catalogues and a whole raft of other weird design jobs, from postcards to t-shirts. Julian is tasked with managing all of the other designers in the office and has a large input in the design (or redesign) of series covers, and puts together a lot of our larger format book covers too.
When I asked Julian what his favourite Osprey book was he came back with this -
"Osprey\'s The Blitz - An Illustrated History was compiled with the Daily Mirror archive (Mirropix) and is a poignant reminder of a period in British history that should never be forgotten. The images alone speak to us today about a nation very much in the grip of a menace similar to the threats and attacks that terrorism could unleash on anyone at anytime.
Browsers of this book will see familiar panoramic image of St Paul\'s Cathedral nestled between other building like a \'fragile egg\', and this book does show a fair number of cityscape images. Yet, for me the real impact of the Blitz is brought home clearly on page 64 of this book as Mrs Elsie Smith, who had been buried alive, is painstakingly extracted from the rubble to freedom. The parallel with the 30 Chilean miners is startling, but unlike Mrs Smith\'s rescuers, the Chilean team responsible for freeing the Miners had sophisticated technology available to them. The men and women who pulled Elsie Smith from the rubble were using the most basic of equipment and the images on page 64 are incredibly poignant - whether these rescuers were really prepared or not, they are totally dedicated to saving lives.
The parallel of national pride, despite the odds, is intoxicating, giving those that are the victims a real strength to survive. At the time trust between People and British Government to \'Keep Calm and Carry On\' remained strong and morale remained high. If only the trust between the Government and the people were as strong today as it was 70 years ago. In contrast, life 70 years ago almost seems to take place on a different planet, rather than time in British history!
The randomness of where the bombs fell also conjured up images of the fateful day when London was hit by a series of bombings. You might be asking yourself ... Could it have been me? Or a loved one?
The last image I want to leave you with is on page 147. This image spoke to me in a number of ways. The scene is this: A church congregational service in St Mary and Bow Church, with St Paul\'s Cathedral shown in the background.
What is so special about that you might ask?
Well, the service was taking place in the ruins of what had been St Mary and Bow Church. The church roof has been completely destroyed. Seeing the open sky in that service, could have been an uncomfortable experience. Instead it spoke to me at a different level, in a spiritual sense. I\'m sure some of the people present in that congregation believed God could hear and answer their prayers, that in fact God could receive their prayers in a more tangible way without the barrier of a roof between them and the heavens. At the same time the regimental appearance of the church pews, still in rigid lines, provide an ongoing notion of order and being in control.
The phrase \'a picture can speak a thousand words\' is very true and, as someone who \'reads more in to images\' than \'reads the written word\' I think The Blitz - An illustrated History by Gavin Mortimer can teach us more about what it is to be a community and the ideals of duty, sacrifice and hope. Films like War of the Worlds are fun, action-packed and speak to us about living under attack, but this book shows the real thing!"