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What other book might you compare War, Wine, and Valour to and why?
This is a remarkable and quite interesting autobiography of one brave man who volunteered as a 16 year old boy to fight in the WW2, motivated to defend the very foundations of the free world. Every war is hell, but even in the most difficult conditions there is a place for humanity and valor. I especially loved the fact that the events were not just made up and I would recommend this memoir to all ages, and not just to those who are interested in WW2 material. One more thing worth mentioning is the narration of the british actor Ronald Pickup who makes listening to this audiobook an unforgetable experience.
Would you consider the audio edition of War, Wine, and Valour to be better than the print version?
In many ways, yes. I found listening to the relaxed tones of Mr Pickup, many details in the book sank in which in my excitement I had not really absorbed while reading.
I should say, however, that despite what audible says, this is not unabridged: the audiobook contains many of the best stories from the book, but much is left out, so you need to read the book as well!
What other book might you compare War, Wine, and Valour to, and why?
The one that springs to mind is "Quartered Safe Out Here", by George MacDonald Fraser, author of the Flashman books, who served in Burma. This also was written many years after the event.
What distinguishes Douglas Baker's book, however, is that not only did he possess an incredible memory, but he kept diaries throughout the war (which you were not supposed to do!) and the result is an incredibly graphic account of many manoevres and engagements.
Which character – as performed by Ronald Pickup – was your favourite?
There are several: the redoubtable Ali, Shorty the water carrier, Bully, and Marcia, the astrologer: as well, of course, as the author himself.
Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
My favourite scene in the book is the author, I imagine with his head between his hands, struggling to keep his sanity amidst endless and heavy bombardment. His description of his efforts to hand on to his identity under the most incredible stress is instructive as well as very moving.
Any additional comments?
I have only given four stars for the performance. This is not because of any shortcoming in Mr Pickup's rendition, but solely because I was fortunate enough to know the author and when I read this book I have my own mental image of him saying the words.
Mr Pickup, quite rightly, doesn't try to be Douglas Baker, and reads his words with great sensitivity, and gives the story great respect and care.