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The Report by Jessica Francis Kane
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On 3 March 1943, 173 people were crushed trying to get into the bomb shelter at Bethnal Green tube station (in East London). There were no German raids that night, it was a terrible civilian accident. This novel is a fictional version of the subsequent enquiry and report which were commissioned by the Home Secretary but not published until the end of the war.
The history is in every page but it does not overwhelm it. Mostly, I felt for the characters and the difficulties and complexities they faced. Readable and fascinating, I will be visiting the site next time I'm in the area. ( )
1 vote lizchris | Oct 20, 2015 |
The Report is about a real life tragedy that happened in 1943: 173 people are killed, crushed to death, in a tube station set up as a makeshift war shelter. What caused the residents of Bethnal Green to get so spooked? Magistrate Sir Lawrence Dunne has been contacted to write a report to find out what happened.

Flash forward 30 years later, Dunne's report is infamous and Paul Barber wants to do an retrospective on it and Dunne. Although hesitant at first, Dunne allows Paul to interview him when he finally exposes some secrets including what Dunne omitted from it.

The Report was a really good piece of storytelling. Francis Kane was never bogged down with the details and the characters she developed were great. I felt really bad for Warden Low because he had a lot of unneccesary guilt that he couldn't let go of.

It is a shame because he wasn't to blame; in fact he was trying to make the conditions better. I guess the real guilt developed because he should have known how violently the crowd would react to the light.

Ada Barber will stand out forever to me because I cannot believe what she did. I understand the anti-semitic views the world had back then but still. I saw the jealousy dripping from her when she wondered why Mrs. W has made it to the front or why she always got a bunk or why she had so many blankets. Ada didn't truly understand the scope of what she done until she witnessed what the loss had on the innocent.

The Report reminded me, in many ways, of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood. It really had that New Journalism way to me although this is a completely fictionalized version of events. ( )
  Y2Ash | Apr 16, 2014 |
The Report is about a real life tragedy that happened in 1943: 173 people are killed, crushed to death, in a tube station set up as a makeshift war shelter. What caused the residents of Bethnal Green to get so spooked? Magistrate Sir Lawrence Dunne has been contacted to write a report to find out what happened.

Flash forward 30 years later, Dunne's report is infamous and Paul Barber wants to do an retrospective on it and Dunne. Although hesitant at first, Dunne allows Paul to interview him when he finally exposes some secrets including what Dunne omitted from it.

The Report was a really good piece of storytelling. Francis Kane was never bogged down with the details and the characters she developed were great. I felt really bad for Warden Low because he had a lot of unneccesary guilt that he couldn't let go of.

It is a shame because he wasn't to blame; in fact he was trying to make the conditions better. I guess the real guilt developed because he should have known how violently the crowd would react to the light.

Ada Barber will stand out forever to me because I cannot believe what she did. I understand the anti-semitic views the world had back then but still. I saw the jealousy dripping from her when she wondered why Mrs. W has made it to the front or why she always got a bunk or why she had so many blankets. Ada didn't truly understand the scope of what she done until she witnessed what the loss had on the innocent.

The Report reminded me, in many ways, of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood. It really had that New Journalism way to me although this is a completely fictionalized version of events. ( )
  Y2Ash | Apr 16, 2014 |
The Report is about a real life tragedy that happened in 1943: 173 people are killed, crushed to death, in a tube station set up as a makeshift war shelter. What caused the residents of Bethnal Green to get so spooked? Magistrate Sir Lawrence Dunne has been contacted to write a report to find out what happened.

Flash forward 30 years later, Dunne's report is infamous and Paul Barber wants to do an retrospective on it and Dunne. Although hesitant at first, Dunne allows Paul to interview him when he finally exposes some secrets including what Dunne omitted from it.

The Report was a really good piece of storytelling. Francis Kane was never bogged down with the details and the characters she developed were great. I felt really bad for Warden Low because he had a lot of unneccesary guilt that he couldn't let go of.

It is a shame because he wasn't to blame; in fact he was trying to make the conditions better. I guess the real guilt developed because he should have known how violently the crowd would react to the light.

Ada Barber will stand out forever to me because I cannot believe what she did. I understand the anti-semitic views the world had back then but still. I saw the jealousy dripping from her when she wondered why Mrs. W has made it to the front or why she always got a bunk or why she had so many blankets. Ada didn't truly understand the scope of what she done until she witnessed what the loss had on the innocent.

The Report reminded me, in many ways, of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood. It really had that New Journalism way to me although this is a completely fictionalized version of events. ( )
  Y2Ash | Apr 16, 2014 |
This review contains SPOILERS. The Report is very-well written, but I'm confused. The author asserts her work is fiction, so I'm assuming the Barbers and Mrs W. and Baby Saul/Paul don't really exist. Why does this fiction book turn the Bethnal Green tragedy into an antisemitic incident, the result of Ada Barber pushing and then trampling over the Jewish refugee woman on the tube-station steps? I recently watched a YouTube documentary that blames the noisy weapons testing in nearby Victoria Park for the panic which caused the crush in the tube station. Witnesses in the video testified to the horrendous noise and lights which caused the panic. The novel acknowledges the testing but doesn't present it as a cause of the crush, as there was no generalized panic on the night of March 3, 1943, in Bethnal Green. The novel presents Dunne (the report-writer who learned about Ada's actions on the night of the incident from Ada's young daughter, Tillie) as deciding not to write about 'the true cause of the incident' in the report so as to avoid the creation of bad feelings amongst the survivors. But grown Paul asks the question, "What would you have done if the situation were reversed, if the Jewish woman had pushed a gentile woman, thereby initiating the tragedy?" The Report presents an interesting premise (as "anti-refugee feelings" did exist at the time) but why create a version of events like this if it has no basis in fact? I want to see antisemitism uncovered where it does exist, but why bring it into an historical event if it didn't play a part? ( )
  booksinbed | Mar 11, 2014 |
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"London, 1943 : Tube stations across London have been converted into bomb shelters. Night after night, while sirens wail in Bethnal Green, immigrants and East Enders alike sleep on the tracks and wait. But on March 3, as the crowd hurries down the staircase, something goes wrong, and 173 adults and children lose their lives in a deadly crush. When the devastated neighborhood demands an inquiry, the job falls to the young magistrate Laurence Dunne..."--Front flap.… (more)

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