From 1947 to 1963 some 2.3 million men were conscripted to do national service. For some it was to prove the most exciting and terrifying time of their lives, as many were sent to the Korean War or to countries such as Palestine and Kenya where the terrorist threat was ever-present. They learned about sex and faced death. For others, it was a frustrating interference in their lives, made all the more ridiculous by endless hours of square-bashing or painting coal white. Tom Hickman, who himself went through national service, shows just how varied were the experiences of the recruits. By talking to many veterans, he recalls the hilarious and moving stories from those times, and seeks to explain why the subject still causes debate more than 40 years on. Above all, The Call-Up is a portrait of a vanished era that many still feel has something to teach us today.