1935: Cal Jardine is a soldier of fortune. Forced to leave Hamburg, he is recruited by a secretive British committee to smuggle guns to Abyssinia. But first Jardine must procure the weapons from Romania. Taken to the Horn of Africa, the arms are then transported over a harsh landscape into the hands of the Ethiopian Army. On his travels Jardine acquires more baggage than he anticipated, including a beautiful, but difficult American female in search of her archaeologist mother, a determined reporter and a daredevil French flyer, while missing out on a painful death by sheer good fortune. But the Ethiopians are ill-equipped to a face a modern Italian army using tanks, bombers, and poison gas. Trained for war, can Jardine simply walk away?
©2011 David Donachie (P)2011 Soundings
I recommend this especially to fans of the narrator Jonathan Keeble, he gives voice to Cal Jardine and the characters in an unfogettable fashion, his narration kept me going through some of the slower parts of the story. The American history version of the Spanish Civil War could take some lessons from Jack Ludlow's writing style, he made a rather nebulous footnote in our history books into a compelling story of factions in-fighting, Nazi's invading, regular people in the villages confused and dazed about the goings-on in their own country.
As with many of his books for me the interesting part is filling in my missing history information, he takes relatively obscure (in textbooks) periods of history and brings them to life, his series on the Norman's in Italy is compelling listening and caused me to download maps and more maps to trace the comings and goings of the armies. This book about the Spanish Civil War certainly gave life to the characters helping me make better sense of the struggles of the Spanish prior to the World War. Some of the incidents however were a bit overwrought, the struggles for a village square or a town marketplace seemed designed to fill in space rather than move the story forward.
His voice and inflections bring the characters to life, he can be serious, playful and inquisitive all with a gravitas I enjoy.
I enjoy the author's writing and the narrator's ability to bring the words to life.
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