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Commando to Colditz [Kindle Edition]

Peter Stanley
2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

A compelling, riveting read, Commando to Colditz is an unusual — perhaps unique — war story. It is centred around a most unusual war hero: Michael 'Micky' Burn, soldier, poet and novelist, whose journey from fascist follower, to commander of Six Troop, to Commando, to prisoner (and communist lecturer) in the notorious prison of Colditz forms the focal point of this powerful narrative.

In 1942 Micky led his commando troop of 28 men on one of the most daring raids of the Second World War, the assault on the French port of St Nazaire. As a result of this 'night of fire and death', fourteen of Micky's men were killed; seven, including Burn, were captured. Micky's bond with his soldiers is at the story's heart. Before the raid, he had asked his parents to write to his men's families if the worst should happen; the result was the creation of a rich and moving archive of letters between these grieving or anxious families, letters that illuminate the lives and deaths of a small but close-knit group of British soldiers and those who loved them.


Product Description

About the Author

Dr Peter Stanley migrated with his family from Britain aged 10 in 1966. He has become Australia's leading military-social historians, the author of twenty books, including Tarakan: an Australian Tragedy, White Mutiny: British Military Culture in India 1825-75, For Fear of Pain: British Surgery 1790-1850, Quinn's Post, Anzac, Gallipoli, Invading Australia: Japan and the Battle for Australia, 1942 and A Stout Pair of Boots: Exploring Australia's Battlefields. His next book for Murdoch/Pier 9 will be Bad Characters: Sex, Crime, Mutiny and Murder in the Great War. Peter worked for the Australian War Memorial from 1980 to 2007, where he was Principal Historian, and is now Director of the Centre for Historical Research at the National Museum of Australia, Canberra.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 489 KB
  • Print Length: 305 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1741963842
  • Publisher: Pier 9 (23 Mar. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004TDRI9A
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #667,042 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars not what you expect 14 Nov. 2012
Format:Paperback
my wife bought me this as a christmas present last year and im finaly getting round to reading it. i enjoy reading about people who make a difference and the story of thier lives. so i was looking forward to reading about mickey burns and how he made his way through the second world war.i couldnt be more disapointed.im half way through the book and his father is talked about more than mickey burns.all it goes on about is who his father is writing to and who is replying.if theres no story about mickey then dont write the book.i will finish the book but its hard work. its not what i expected which is a shame because im sure theres a story there somewhere. it seems like the writer had to find something to pad the book out a bit.
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Amazon.com: 2.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Commando to Colditz 14 Jun. 2012
By Craig - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The initial part in how the commando unit came into - I found interesting . The account of the Colditz raid itself I found interesting too, but thereafter the story became fairly repetitive and gloomy. I tended to lose interest at this stage, which was a pity.
2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Commando and Communist 26 Aug. 2010
By MR PHILIP J SHANNON - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Colditz, Hitler's most secure Prisoner of War camp, never knew what it was harbouring when Micky Burn, a captured British Army commando, lectured his fellow captives on communism, an act punishable by death outside the walls of the prison.

As told in Peter Stanley's biography of Burn, his life was marked by the unconventional. Born in London to a middle class, Tory family, Burn's tastes in the thirties veered towards poetry, parties, cars and bisexual affairs (he was a one-time lover of Cambridge University communist and spy, Guy Burgess). Naïvely impressed at first with Hitler's `curing' of unemployment, Burn visited Germany in 1935 where he sat with the Nazi hierarchy at `absolutely wonderful' fascist rallies and was personally presented by Hitler with an inscribed copy of Mein Kampf.

Burn's Nazi sympathies collapsed, however, when his desire to `do something' about the Depression saw him lodge with an unemployed Yorkshire miner under a Quaker scheme to expose students and middle class Britons to the realities of life in depressed areas. This experience changed his life profoundly and ever after Burn "counted himself on the side of the powerless", writes Stanley.

Hitler was now in Burn's sights as a British commando captain. In 1942, Burn took part in a raid which destroyed the port of St Nazaire in Normandie in France, making it unusable to the German Navy for its attacks on the Atlantic convoys supplying aid from the US to Britain. In the frenzied, animal aggression of battle, the sensitive Burn became `someone I had not met before and never wish to meet again'.

Captured, Burn wound up in Colditz, where he continued his own education, reading books sent from home (a right of prisoners under the Geneva Convention) on political economy and moving `well on the way to Marxism'. He also continued the Education Program he had begun for other soldiers back in England, tapping into the "reforming spirit" that emerged from the twin threats of capitalist economic crisis and fascism.

His lectures had a strong Marxist flavour, their popularity enhanced by a widespread sympathy for the Soviet Union resulting from the Red Army victories which were monitored via a secret wireless operated by Burn in Colditz. His classes opened up an ideological schism amongst the prisoners with conservative officers boycotting them, forbidding their subordinates from attending (Douglas Bader, the fighter ace, ordered RAF members to stay away) or wanting Burn charged with treason.

After liberation, Burn campaigned for the Communist Party of Great Britain during the 1945 general election which dumped wartime Tory Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, as part of the leftwards shift by the British population. Soon after, however, Burn's illusions in Stalinist Russia as the standard-bearer of socialism were knocked out of him by the show trials in stalinist Hungary which he covered in 1946 on assignment as a reporter with The Times.

Returning to Wales to write poetry and novels, Burn retained his core left wing principles - when Peter Stanley, an Australian, interviewed him in 2004 for his biography, Burn denounced both the war in Iraq and one of its chief instigators, the then Australian Prime Minister (`John Howard, dreadful man!', he told Stanley).

Stanley is a military not a socialist historian, so the political dimension of Burn is no more than a spicy side dish in the often stodgy military fare in his book in which he honours Burn as Commando rather than Communist. But, whether as soldier or socialist, Micky Burn is worth commemorating as one of the unsung many who have fought, and risked all, for a better world.
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