©2007 George MacDonald Fraser; (P)2010 Random House
GMF is one of my all time favourites, but I am not sure about the reader. GMF was Anglo-Scottish so why have a very upper class English drawl for the reading? Especially as he has to do the Cumbrian voices, which are so much of the magic of the book. I'm not sure if they are authentic,not being a Cumbrian but frequently they end up sounding like North country Daleks, which I suspect is not quite right!
But get past this, and the book itself is a wonder - Frasers unsentimental vivid ability to put you in the events with him is extraordinary, as is his ability to evoke characters and make the reader empathise with his pride in his comrades. And then there are the desperately moving or very funny set pieces - the scenes where the section share out the kit of a comrade killed in action, the looting of the air drop, and best of all GMF's speculating about what the section would have done if they'd been given the option of dropping the bomb or not, which truly raises the hairs on the back of your neck. And most of all the dialogue.
It pains me as a Flashman fan to say this, but this is the best GMF ever did.
Well, I should add to that, "and if you like history in general". I've read quite a few histories of WWII and this was a great way to view an obscure and rarely told portion of the war. But even without that. . .Fraser writes with his usual dry wit; his own exploits are suitably modestly told, and each of his characters is well-developed and sometimes larger than life--as, I believe, soldiers are at times. Or maybe it only seems that way in our memories. Reading this twenty years after it was written, I found it interesting to hear Fraser's opinions on the war and the evolution of war, and of England, since.
David Case is brilliant, as always, at capturing the mood and the characters. One reviewer complained that the book should have been read by a Scot. . .sheesh, this Yank had a hard enough time with the accents as it was! So don't let that put you off; if you've enjoyed Case with Flashie or Sharpe, you'll love him here.
My only complaint is that Fraser stopped at the end of the war. I'll have to find an audio version of his North African novels to learn what happened to him next (sort of).
I haven't read the print version.
The author's first combat experience.
I enjoyed the narrator's accent which a print book doesn't always convey.
Although I enjoyed learning about the war in Burma, I was disappointed that there was so little about Burma itself. There is almost no description of the people and very little about the culture. Hard to imagine spending that much time in a country, even under war conditions and not having much to say about the people or the culture.
Avid "reader" of history - military and with a more British slant the past few years. Rarely read novels but Anthony Powell's DTMoTime zomg
Superbly written memoir of combat and British army life in Burma and I do love this narrator's style that fits this so well. (he does a great narration of Orwell too)
this is not up there with Flashman or Mr. American, but it was interesting. It is the persona memoirs of a man who suffered through life in combat. Combat, which he explained so well is 99% parts fighting the elements and boredom and 10% fighting the enemy. It is amazing to see how the world over, soldiers are the same. They spend their time discussing and worrying about trvial things while they are in the process of making history. Something never change. This could have been written by a Roman solider 2,000 years ago and it would have been almost the same book and just as enjoyable.
I have read almost everything by GMF. Several times. Excellent writing. Wry wit. Very careful and accurate history - even in the "Flashman" series in which the main character is fictional, but most others are not.
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