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Superb narration by Derek Perkins. A five-star performance! The narration improved on the story, I believe, which is saying something. His voice is easy on the ears and distinctly different for dog and man.
This biographical account is based on personal diaries, BBC footage and reports, and military documents.
The "story" begins in France late in 1939, when native Czech Airman (bomber) Robert Bozdech is shot down in France, over enemy lines. Hiding out with his wounded pilot in an abandoned farmhouse, he discovers a starving newborn German Shepherd, whom he names Ant / Antis. Unable to abandon the puppy to certain death, he hides Ant inside his jacket and crawls through thick snow across "no man's land" -- bombs dropping from both sides, narrowly missing Robert, Ant, and his pilot Pierre. Within fewer than 24 hours, the young warrior pup is already defending Robert and Pierre.
In the months and years that followed Antis would save lives several times. This decorated dog rescued civilians buried under rubble in shell-shocked, battle-worn Britain, alerted men and women of incoming attacks at various Royal Air Force bases, and flew alongside his best friend in Wellington fighter planes.
This account focuses more on the tight bond between dog and man, less on the war itself. Still, there are some interesting war nuggets: Hitler's Czech invasion, Czech airmen joining the French Air Force to fight Nazis, France falling to Hitler, French and Czech soldiers fleeing to England to join the RAF and continue to fight Nazis, the bombing of Britain (so much bombing!), various bomber planes (Wellingtons, Liberators, etc.), and the place of dogs in the military during war (most pets were not allowed during war, so this story is unusual).
Various secondary characters added much to my enjoyment of the story.
The quality of the writing is good, not great. The story felt heartwarming. I chuckled several times, and held my breath with worry a few times, too. The pace flowed quickly. I learned something about the war from this unlikely perspective.
However, some overused phrases (e.g., "he looked deeply into his dog's eyes") cost the book one star, along with the rushed ending. I wanted to know more about Robert's wife and son in Communist Czechoslovakia, and more about his postwar life in England.
17 of 18 people found this review helpful
I was totally burnt out, had been reading a lot of nonfiction re: totalitarian regimes, genocide, famines. The last thing I was in the mood for was war. I was searching for a nice, uplifting animal book. Full Disclosure: I'm a sucker for a good animal book. "The Dog Who Could Fly" came up, and Military History? With a Dog? I suddenly got my second wind and I was SOLD!
The story follows Robert Bozdech from his fateful rescue of Antis through life during the war. This is a great audiobook of a jolly decent length (not short by any means), so it's packed full with a touch of the mundane (life on base with a really lively dog, and also, just how does one go chatting up a woman on a train when your dog haaaates her?), but mostly full of the daring and dangerous missions of the servicemen.
I know that animals aren't capable of sitting back, weighing life and death decisions, but honestly. Antis seems to do just that. His absolute devotion to the men, and to Robert above all others is astounding. You'll get to know many of the men who loved Antis, and it's extraordinary how creative they were in helping to keep Antis on base, or in helping Antis to fly: in their eyes, he was one of them.
I won't throw in any spoilers, but there's one part I almost stopped listening near the end. Robert, intending well, I guess, decides there needs to be a "tough love/things-must-happen-this-way" for such and such reasons. It was horrible to listen to because things go terribly awry (Note to Robert: You can't turn love on and off like a light switch).
Listen through it, stick with this book. It's a heartwarming, exciting "read."
6 of 6 people found this review helpful