After 25 years of chronicling the military misadventures of Flashman, the Victorian arch-cad, George MacDonald Fraser has temporarily deserted ...Show synopsisAfter 25 years of chronicling the military misadventures of Flashman, the Victorian arch-cad, George MacDonald Fraser has temporarily deserted fiction to write this, his own personal account of the Burma War. In this book he describes life and death in Nine Section, a small group of hard-bitten and possibly eccentric Cumbrian borderers with whom the author, then 19, served in the last great land campaign of World War II. The book describes the experience when the 17th Black Cat Division captured a vital strongpoint deep in Japanese territory, held it against counter-attack and spearheaded the final assault in which the Japanese armies were torn apart.Hide synopsis
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A well written personal history and according to my uncle who fought in Burma; most realistic.
The passages of vernacular translated Cumberland dialect in the tradition of Kipling but began to grate after a the first 100 pages.
Otherwise an enjoyable book.
I frequently tell other book lovers that the Flashman series is not only the funniest series of books I have ever read, but also the best adventures and the best historical novels. Fraser's The General Danced at Dawn series, for lack of a better name, concerning the adventures of a rag tag, but interesting bunch of fellows in WWII is also great comic writing. For some reason I managed not to read his vaunted autobiographical account of the Second World War in Burma for a number of years, although I always wanted to. Finally, I bought a copy and dug in. Within a few chapters, I realized that I was likely to be disappointed. I was. That's not to say that there aren't some good qualities within it, and, I suppose if I rated it relative to other memoirs I've read, it was not bad. You can see it has special meaning for him, exactly what you would expect from a WWII vet.
Unfortunately, the constant use of those funny but hard to understand British accents, which are usually amusing but sparely used in Flashman, are the meat of this book. He was correct that after a while you can understand the speakers with little help, but its tiresome, and not really funny in itself after the first few times. The book also gave Fraser an opportunity to state some opinions about the world at large and the way war is conducted today. Those were actually some of the best parts, but possibly because I am on my way to becoming a cranky old man myself (not as old as GMF and not a vet) and largely agreed with him. Unlike his fiction, the comic episodes (particularly the main one involving the author and a well) were just not that interesting. Unlike some of his fictional characters, the author is always self effacing and never pompous, which is refreshing for a military autobiography. Although I can't agree with his self effacing point of view that what he did was not that important, at some point I start wanting to read the Official History he refers to from time to time (usually to show how his vantage was different or that he was not even aware of other things going on)instead of what I had in my hands.
Overall, any soldier's story adds to what we know and deserves to be published. Of course, they aren't all published. I believe the great GMF was able to get this published because of who he is and what he's written before, not because of the quality of the book itself. Truth be known, had Shakespeare written an autobiography, I suspect I would feel the same way. Feeling like a traitor to someone I think of as one of the greatest fiction writers of the last century, my review must be unfavorable, even for World War II or history buffs. To readers, in general, I say please go out and get every other book this man has written, particulary the Flashman series. You will be delighted. But skip this one unless you just delight in reading first person combat histories. To Mr. Fraser, I say, may you live and keep writing Flashman and other fiction forever. But no more autobiographies (and please forgive me).
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