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A World Gone Mad: An Extract

Posted 14th Nov 2017

A World Gone Mad, Astrid Lindgren’s acclaimed war diaries, available for the first time in English, are now out in paperback.

At Pushkin HQ we’re obsessed with these bright, sensitive and deeply moving vignettes of wartime Stockholm, charting Lindgren’s moral outrage as political events spiral out of control, alongside delightful moments of domestic life punctuated by blackouts and rationing. But don’t take our word for it! Take five minutes out with a sneak peek into Astrid’s world…

1 SEPTEMBER 1939
Oh! War broke out today. Nobody could believe it. Yesterday afternoon, Elsa Gullander and I were in Vasa Park with the children running and playing around us and we sat there giving Hitler a nice, cosy telling off and agreed that there definitely was not going to be a war – and now today! The Germans bombarded several Polish cities early this morning and are forging their way into Poland f rom all directions. I’ve managed to restrain myself f rom any hoarding until now, but today I laid in a little cocoa, a little tea, a small amount of soap and a few other things. A terrible despondency weighs on everything and everyone. The radio churns out news reports all day long. Lots of our men are being called up. There’s a ban on private motoring, too. God help our poor planet in the grip of this madness!

2 SEPTEMBER 1939
A sad, sad day! I read the war announcements and felt sure Sture would be called up but he turned out not to be, in the end. Countless others have got to leave home and report for duty, though. We’re in a state of ‘intensified war readiness’. The amount of stockpiling is unbelievable, according to the papers. People are mainly buying coffee, toilet soap, household cleaning soap and spices. There’s apparently enough sugar in the country to last us 15 months, but if nobody can resist stocking up, we’ll have a shortage anyway. At the grocer’s there wasn’t a single kilo of sugar to be had (but they’re expecting more in, of course).

When I went to my coffee merchant to buy a fully legitimate quarter kilo of coffee, I found a notice on the door: ‘Closed. Sold out for today.’ It’s Children’s Day today, and dear me, what a day for it! I took Karin up to the park this afternoon and that was when I saw the official notice that all men born in 1898 [Sture’s year of birth] would be called up. I tried to read the newspaper while Karin went on the slide but I couldn’t, I just sat there with tears rising in my throat. People look pretty much as usual, only a bit more gloomy. Everybody talks about the war all the time, even people who don’t know each other.

Intrigued? Get A World Gone Mad now with free UK delivery.