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4.1 out of 5 stars37
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 8 March 2002
This is my favourite of Spike's Memoirs and tells of his romance with a lovely Italian ballerina. This book changed my life - because of it I visited Capri, and begun a lifelong love of Italy. The saddest thing is that the place he describes has gone now. The book is full of life and colour, and is such a great read that you don't want it to end...I - extraordinary man and talent - this book will be a real delight for all new readers.
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on 3 March 2009
A return to reading the collected memoirs of Spike at War. This is probably the third time I have read them since they came out and I got the first volume for my Dad ( Also from Catford with a similar career pattern to Milligan) Spike's books reflect his manic personality; sometimes they make you cry but usually they make you laugh out loud. His obsessive attention to detail( such as clothing) and his amazing recall( of smells and tastes as well as sights and sounds ) is amazing. The books can be disjointed and repetitive at times but as a viewpoint from a lowly placed individual in one of the great events of the 20th century,reflecting all the vices prejudices yet lust for life and freedom from dominating parents of someone from that generation, they are hard to resist!
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on 6 September 2001
This is the 6th in Spike Milligan's war memoirs, and really it focusses on the immediate post war period, when he was being de-mobbed and working his way up Italy to Austria. All this is happenning amidst his great love affair with Toni, a petit Italian woman who travels with him most of the journey, until their final break-up. It is also the time that Spike can begin his entertainment career for which has has become so well-known and influencial. The man is truly unique, and here you can see his wit and Goon sided view of the world developing as he works. It may surprise some that Spikes first ventures in the entertainment world where musical, as an accomplished trumpet player. In this period the comedy starts taking over, alongside the music and emerges to the fore in hios stage acts.
However, this is Spike writing what seems to be form a crystal clear memory, as the details are so precise that it seems hard to believe he could remember so much. Whether that is true or not does not affect the enjoyment of this book. Spike Milligan can only bear his soul, with all its totured views on life, God, love and war. For those, like me, who are confirmed "Goonatics" it will delight as all Spike's work does. For those with a passing interest it will introduce the foundation of the mans talent which later produced a revolution in comedy that the world has never recovered from. Basically, you will laugh!
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on 12 May 2012
No Spike Milligan book is totally tedious - he is always good company - but honestly this was a bit of a struggle to finish.

The war is over and Spike, still stationed in Italy, is just about to be demobbed. Now with Combined Services Entertainment and playing the fiddle in the Bill Hall Trio, a comedy-jazz combo, he tours Italy and Austria as part of a Forces show called the Barbary Coast. He falls desperately in love with one of the cast, the pretty - there are lots of photos - but outstandingly dull Toni. Most of the book is an account of Spike spooning after her, walking hand-in hand through Vienna, visiting Rome, going on holiday to Capri etc etc. If his other five war books often felt like a blog from the front line this is more like a gap year Facebook page.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect after 275 pages of lovidoviness is Spike's strange emotional disconnect at the end as he leaves Italy and his supposed love Toni behind, barely looking back. Maybe people were just burned out and fatalistic after five years of war, but to a modern reader the lack of introspection strikes as odd.
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on 14 November 2013
I'm afraid that I take great delight in Milligan's irreverent attitude to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Our hero takes a small step towards fame and fortune in the world of entertainment. Although still a soldier in Italy, he slides gently through Demob, (old soldiers will recall that magic word,) and becomes an Artiste with the Forces Entertainment Organisation. He suffers / enjoys the pangs of love, sights and sounds imprint themselves on his memory and he recalls them with a lyric style that is as far from a Goon Show script as it is possible to get.
Autobiography is not everyone's cup of tea, actually, its not mine, but this collection of memoirs is different. As I said in my opening , it's irreverent. At times it's a little bawdy. It is a portrait of the classic Sad Clown. A modern day Grimaldi. It's a good read. Try it.
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on 8 April 2010
Last in the line of war memoirs. V.funny guy but you see a more serious side in this one - and it's obvious you can see he suffers from the old "Black Dog" on his shoulder. Bit sad really at the end but an interesting read interspersed with good humour.
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on 21 June 2013
Once again a brilliant book by one of the greatest comedians ever. you will enjoy this book completely. Spike Milligan is a brilliant writer.
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on 6 September 2014
Pure Milligan and a must for any fan of the late Spike Milligan. This is an account of his post-war months spent touring Italy with a military concert party. Having been demobbed and given officer status, the relief of a less military life is almost palpable in his writing. Clearly a happy time for the musician / comedian he provides a fascinating insight into post-war Italy and his romance with a young Italian ballerina in his own quirky but wonderfully readable style.
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on 27 May 2013
if you don't know Spike Milligan that well, then read the whole series then you will know what the war was really like
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on 3 July 2015
This is part of Spike Milligan's essential account of WW2 through his eyes. No one interested in history should ignore it if they are interested in the attitude of normal working people to world war. For the more superficial minded, it is recorded here that Spike took a selfie of himself and his girlfriend Toni on Capri with a form of improvised selfie stick. He was always a genius ahead of his time.
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