The writing is crisp and a joy to read.
Other Titles by George MacDonald Fraser
In addition to Fussell's Wartime, I would also suggest that the reader try E. Wonderfully vivid and as one would expect of Fraser at times marvellously funny account of his experiences as a soldier in a Burma near the end of World War II. It is very honest about the ugly aspects of the war, but unlike some of his fiction it comes across as ultimately uncynical, with a real respect for the soldiers he served with and their leader Lord Slim. But if the passage of more than half a century made his memory a bit foggy about some of the details, it did give him the advantage of perspective, and many of the best passages in the book were made possible by the perspective of an old man in the 21st century looking back at what it was like being a soldier in the s.
There is, for example, his commentary on what British soldiers were fighting for and what they weren't fighting for: "They did not fight for a Britain that would be dishonestly railroaded into Europe against the people's will; they did not fight for a Britain where successive governments, by their weakness and folly, would encourage crime and violence on an unprecedented scale He considers the possibility that he could have been one of the many Allied soldiers who would certainly have been killed if those bombs hadn't been dropped and the fact that, in that case, his children and grandchildren would never have been born.
And so, I dare suggest, would you. And if you wouldn't you may be nearer to the divine than I am but you sure as hell aren't fit to be parents or grandparents. The major battles happened elsewhere. Yet his memoir, due to his writing skill and a lifetime of thinking about those events, make it excellent reading. This book immediately grabbed my attention by introducing itself, quite lucidly, with a discussion of personal memory and its notoriously complex relationship with facts.
Long ago, I had been schooled on the difference of recalling a "normal" event and that of reliving a "significant emotional experience" and how much more vivid, though not necessarily more broadly encompassing it may be.
Quartered safe out here
The author sets the stage candidly for where he is coming from and then launches into a memoir of his experience in the armed forces fighting the Japanese in Burma during World War II. While the setting is clearly different, I found myself frequently thinking of my experiencing Robert Lewis Stevenson's Treasure Island, so many decades ago. This was a real adventure, and it brought back the feeling I had so very long ago reading my first fictional adventure. The author's style brings the reader right along with him through each setting.
The reader becomes part embedded reporter and part individual hearing someone tell a story in a relaxed gathering of friends. The story shifts gear often with healthy doses of humor and suspense, never flagging in its ability to maintain interest. An extra bonus comes with the author relating his war experiences to veterans of the first Iraq War which had occurred just before he wrote the book.
It was rather remarkable how much of what he had to say applied every bit as well today. I certainly can see people reading this book or not based purely on it being a book about war, but I think those that bypass it will miss the insight that relates so keenly to how humans have everyday life experiences. Here at Walmart. Your email address will never be sold or distributed to a third party for any reason.
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Quartered Safe Out Here: A Recollection of the War in Burma (Unabridged)
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