One of the great untold stories of World War Two—about the man responsible for feeding the people of Britain during the war—written by award-winning food writer and restaurant critic William Sitwell.
Eggs or Anarchy reveals the heroic tale of how Lord Woolton, Minister for Food, really fed Britain during World War II. With supply routes under attack from the Axis powers and resources scarce, it was Woolton’s job to fulfill his promise to the British people—and Prime Minister Winston Churchill in particular—that there would be food on the shelves each week. Persuading the public to not resort to the black market and to manage on the very limited ration was one thing, but Woolton had to maintain supplies in time of crisis. A grammar school-educated genius, he was a fish out of water in Churchill’s cabinet and faced harsh criticism from colleagues, the press, and public.
But Woolton used every trick in his entrepreneurial book to secure supplies, and battled to outwit unscrupulous dealers on the streets of cities within the British Empire—such as Alexandria in Eygpt—persuading customs authorities to turn a blind eye to his import schemes. If Britain had gone hungry the outcome of the war could have been very different. Now, for the first time, readers will find out the real story of how Lord Woolton provided food for Britain and her colonies, discovering that for Woolton, there were indeed days when it was literally a choice of “eggs or anarchy.”
William Sitwell is one of Britain’s foremost food writers, critics, and broadcasters. The multi-award-winning editor of Waitrose Kitchen magazine for over a decade, he is a familiar face on TV appearing on shows such as BBC’s Masterchef, Food & Drink, and as presenter on a number of documentaries, notably Michelin Stars: the Madness of Perfection.
‘William writes with irresistible wit and energy . . . A compelling portrait of one of the unsung, enigmatic heroes of the Second World War’
– Michel Roux OBE
‘The battles of the Second World War have been pored over in minute detail; not so the battles waged on the Kitchen Front. The food writer William Sitwell’s account of Lord Woolton, the man in charge of the Ministry of Food during the war, is an entertaining corrective to this.’
– The Times
‘Eggs or Anarchy is as much a beguiling study of social mobility as it is a hard war memoir … there is much to enjoy – with barely a powdered egg in sight – in this biography of the man who was responsible for arguably the healthiest national diet of all time’
– Sinclair McKay, Sunday Telegraph
‘Eggs or Anarchy meticulously completes the backstory of the war. In this absorbing book Sitwell proves Woolton’s genuine intentions, absolves him for his tough line and also presents a portrait of a man whose style and approach to problems is still highly instructive. It is often said that generally the British were never healthier than in the war years. How we need a Woolton now’
– Rose Prince, The Spectator
– Andrew Marr, Radio 4 Start the Week
‘A wonderful account of how Lord Woolton, Minster for Food, managed to keep Britain fed during World War Two… a riveting read full of delicious historical details about how one unassuming man battled against all odds to keep bellies full and morale high despite the dreaded food rationing. Excuse the pun, but I could have eaten this book up with a spoon’
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