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Coward on the Beach: 1 (Dick Coward 1) Hardcover – 20 Aug 2007


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Coward on the Beach: 1 (Dick Coward 1) + Coward at the Bridge (Dick Coward 2)
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; First Edition edition (20 Aug 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747590702
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747590705
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 14 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 420,820 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

`Coward's amusing episodes of derring-do and the tragic waste of life on both sides ... it seems there's a deeper layer to Coward than mere cheek, spunk and bluster' Dan -- Gwynne Jones, Literary Review

`Very funny, and always delightfully non-PC' -- GQ

A literary equivalent of Saving Private Ryan ... a fine ear for dialogue
-- Andrew Roberts, Mail on Sunday

Extremely funny... very moving. The research is exemplary, and like the best historical fiction, woven seamlessly into the narrative. Truly compelling. -- James Holland, Sunday Telegraph

Impressive and enjoyable... A very entertaining journey ... a rattling story, full of action and laughs and gut-wrenching fear ... Roll on Vol.2 -- Marcus Berkmann, Daily Mail

Tempered by the carnage of war, Dick's antics have more meat and less sauce than those of his antecedent Flashman, whose racy adventures Delingpole creditably updates -- James Urquhart, Financial Times Magazine

`Gripping yarn for men who don't want to go to sleep' -- Daily Echo

vigorous, witty and elegant... a welcome corrective to the Spielberg-Hanks version and promises a lot more excitement to come. Jolly good show, Delingpole -- Spectator

From the Author

Airfix models; War Picture Library; The History Channel; anything by Max Hastings or Antony Beevor; Steve McQueen leaping over the fence in The Great Escape; Quartered Safe Out Here; "Broadsword Calling Danny Boy"; the first twenty minutes of Saving Private Ryan; Sven Hassel; "Don't tell him, Pike"... If any or all of those things rock your boat, then you'll probably love the Dick Coward series.

But I didn't just write it for the boys. The thing that pleases me about my books more than anything is the incredibly enthusiastic response they get from women. (You'll find a few being nice in the reader comments section and I promise I didn't make them up). I daren't venture to suggest why, except that some of the sex scenes are quite lively and the insights into the workings of the male brain as honest as I could make them. It's also, I hope, because even though the Coward series will contain an awful lot of fighting, I've tried never to lose sight of the fact that what counts most in a novel is character and relationships.

My Coward books are meant to be by turns dark, funny, moving and as historically accurate as I can reasonably make them.

What they were never meant to be is a Flashman rip off. I love George MacDonald Fraser and he's definitely an inspiration, but even the most cursory reading of Coward will reveal to you that he's not a Flashie-like cad or bully. The idea I did nick from GMF was having historical footnotes at the end. As with Flashman, I want you to come away from each book having had not just a rip-roaring read, but also a delightfully painless and fascinating history lesson.

Coward On The Beach - like all the series - is based closely on real events. This one concerns the extraordinary but little-known action fought by the men of 47 RM Commando the day after D-Day when they marched 12 miles behind enemy lines and captured a heavily defended, strategically vital port town held by crack troops outnumbering them three to one. I have interviewed and befriend several of the survivors and have woven their experiences into the story.

One more thing. Coward is not meant to be "tongue-in-cheek". I don't do tongue-in-cheek. It's why I always hated the A-Team.


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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Hereward on 15 July 2011
Format: Paperback
COWARD ON THE BEACH is the first in this new-ish series about a British officer in the Second World War. Dick Coward is, despite the name, rather a brave chap who always comes out smelling of turds no matter how dashing or brilliant he is. Here he takes part in the D-Day invasion with the lads from 47 (RM) Commando, storming the invasion beaches before heading for the well defended town of Port-en-Bessin. But not only does Dick have to survive, he also has to win himself a medal. Because his father has decreed that whichever of his two sons gets the highest medal in the war inherits his lovely old country mansion. And Coward has no intention of letting his ghastly brother have the place. Unfortunately his brother has been doing rather well in the medal stakes which means Coward needs a VC - and you usually end up dying the get those...

Many people have compared Coward to Flashman or Sharpe but I can exclusively reveal that Coward is clearly Delingpole's alter-ego (what else do you expect from the author of THINLY DISGUISED AUTOBIOGRAPHY?). Coward is pretty much Delingpole's dream; handsome, posh, well-monied, stonking great place in the country, lots of totty, gets to fight in the Second World War. Unfortunately, being a Delingpole alter-ego also means he has a crippling insecurity complex. The result is a rather odd character.

Delingpole is a massive war nerd and it shows through here. You get the sort of well-researched, footnoted history you'd expect from a Flashman book. He gives his due to the heroes of the Commandos and provides plenty of rip-roaring blood and guts thrills.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Radioactive on 15 July 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found both Coward books that I bought (based on reviews) were extremely disappointing. The idea seems to be based on the "Bandy VC" books I read many years ago. A seemingly incompetent officer's wartime escapades. The Bandy books were based on the first World War. If you can find a copy of the early Bandy books I suggest you grab them, they'll make you laugh out loud! The Coward books on the other hand, to me, are just not funny. I found the main character inane & totally without depth. Everyone has their own sense of humour but these books do not appeal to mine. Having waded through Coward On The Beach, I got about a third of the way through Coward/Bridge and gave up. I shall pass these books on to someone I don't like! Let them suffer too.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Dr. D. R. Purchase on 23 Sep 2011
Format: Paperback
Read some of the other reviews with surprise. I suppose it just goes to show beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. Anyway, just to contradict myself straight away, here's why I really enjoyed this book and it's sequel.

I liked the story and the pacing. There's lots of interesting and apparently accurate historical background . The characters are likeable and believable in the context of the unlikely set of events in the story (yes I know that sounds like I'm contradicting myself again ). The story has touches of warm humour, action and excitement, and can also be touching. Without giving too much away, one of the final scenes really captures the conflicting emotions of relief, suddenly changing to frustration, guilt and sadness at the randomness of war.

Where the book does itself no favours is with the cover design and choice of reviews. I can see why people have made references to Flashman, Jeeves & Worcester but they are misleading.

Coward is an upper class wealthy landowner with an eccentric farther who has decided whichever son has the 'best' war shall inherent the estate. Unfortunately the brother is a cad. Coward is accompanied into battle by Price his down to earth, cynical batman who is an experienced soldier and would much rather be back on the estate running the stables.

Coward himself is also a very experienced soldier who just happens to have a lot of luck (good and bad). The family motto should be 'the road to hell is paved with good intention.' In particular, poor Coward can't help making a fool out of himself over the beautiful Gina. He does have his faults, mainly occaisional snobbery, but he admits these himself (especially in the case of the Landgirl someone mentioned in another review).
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Mr Gladstone on 13 Sep 2008
Format: Hardcover
The action scenes are pretty good, the love scenes aren't. There are some great scenes and set-pieces. Much of the soldiers' dialogue is tedious. The commandos came out looking a bit stupid (which can hardly have been the intention, unless aimed at an American audience perhaps?). The Price character doesn't come alive at all. The humour is reminiscent of a Panzer tank (heavy, clunking and you can hear it coming from miles away). Despite reviews reprinted on the cover it is actually pretty politically correct (except for some unnecessarily unpleasant comments about a poor, hard-working land girl's appearance).

Despite all this I would probably buy the next one, except that... we all want to make money, James, but the first job of a novelist is to create an exciting read. By spending so long sign-posting future books you make me think you're more interested in a lucrative long-term book deal than with making this one as good as it could be. And that is, in the end, a disservice to the commandos.
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