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The War And Uncle Walter [Paperback]

Walter Musto
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
RRP: 9.99
Price: 9.52 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

13 April 2009

The wartime diaries of Walter Musto were recently discovered by his great-nephew in a family attic. Contained in a dusty pile of notebooks filled with neat handwriting are the intimate thoughts of a sixty-year-old civil servant living in Surrey during the Second World War.

When Walter took up his diary on January 1st 1939, he was looking forward to retirement with his beloved wife Alice Mary and their ageing dog Nell, and spending more time in his garden. Walter was too old to fight, but he organized his ARP fire-watch unit and, spurred on by the cry of 'Dig for victory!', grew mountains of vegetables for the war effort. He also took up weaving and knitting scarves for the neighbourhood, but nothing gave him more pleasure than pottering in his greenhouse or sunbathing in the nude among his flowers, interrupted only by the wailing of an air-raid siren or plain bad weather.

In the spirit of THE DIARY OF A NOBODY, with more than an echo of DAD'S ARMY, Walter's idiosyncratic mix of social commentary and personal concerns captures the indomitable spirit that helped England endure the hardships of the Blitz. This charming diary is a welcome reminder that not all wars are fought on the front line.

Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (13 April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553824260
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553824261
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,017,857 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"'A fascinating chronicle of the home front...Entertaining and instructive'" (Mail on Sunday)

"'Charming and beguiling...This is delicious stuff'" (Daily Express)

"A heartwarming read...The book's charm lies in the way that all this odd and intimate personal trivia contrasts with the great public events impinging themselves on the diarist's consciousness...I'm glad to have made his acquaintance" (The Times)

"It will exasperate some, though others may well find it addictive...a timely piece of wartime salvage. There were (and are) many opinionated Walter Mustos in our midst and it is right that one of them should find a belated voice" (Evening Standard)

"Wise, quirky, touching, funny and sometimes pompous...delightful" (Choice)

Book Description

The authentic wartime diaries of Uncle Walter, aglow with the nostalgic eccentricity of 'Dad's Army' and full of 40s atmosphere

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My Dog Died And The Russians Took Stalingrad 11 Jan 2010
This diary, never meant for publication and slightly tidied in the process, tends to mix up (as real life does) big events like Stalingrad or the Fall of Paris with events big for the individual and family but not for wider society, like the deaths of his wife and equally beloved companion animal (a possibly abused stray which he and wife adopted and cherished for many years). Neither died as a result of enemy action.

Musto was 60 in early 1939 when he started the diary. His life before had been mixed: sent to New Zealand at 14 to make his way in life, starting as an agricultural labourer --and hard it sounds from the brief references--, then as an industrial chemist; finally, as a factory inspector, a kind of civil servant. He lived latterly in a detached house in East Molesey, near Esher, a place touched peripherally by the War (minor collateral damage only). His own war service as a fire auxiliary seems to have been a mix of quiet localized heroism and Dad's Army.

His own views are very idealistic, somewhat rose-coloured at times, but decent, nature-loving, art and literature-loving (he reads everything from Confucious to John Stewart Mill and even Nostradamus), which says something for his native intellect though he left school at 14 asn had little formal education. Parts of his musings are, in the better sense of the term, Orwellian. I could not agree with his Churchill-worship (obviously not shared by others he mentions in the diary) and he is certainly naive and even stupid at times in relation to, for example, the Soviet Union (he despises it as it attacks "gallnt little Finland" but is all for it later in the war). I felt that the wartime propaganda influenced him a lot, despite his railing against the propaganda of Goebbels.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stays with you for a long time 23 Nov 2008
By S. Munn
The number of times I've read this book, I almost feel that Walter, his wife Alice Mary, his nephew Clifford and everyone else involved are an extended part of my own family. I strongly recommend this book to anyone with a fond interest in history.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A worthwhile addition to the genre 23 April 2012
The war years as seen by a middle class man in late middle-age who lived in the suburbs of south west London. These diaries do not have the range and depth of some others I have read of WW2 on the home front. (Few Eggs and No Oranges; Nella Last's War). Nevertheless the diaries convey well the warmth, kindness and stoicism of the diarist and are well worth reading for that. Adding to the charm are Walter's eccentricities. His writing style sometimes seems a little over-elaborate and dated (perhaps influenced by his own literary tastes which all appear to be pre-20th century) but I think we can forgive him for that.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real discovery! 10 Jan 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I found this title in a jumble sale - bought it for my 1940s-loving partner and he could not put it down! He liked it so much that we bought this one for a friend - a really good read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a window on another life in a bygone era 1 April 2013
Verified Purchase
Not written as a book, this is a personal diary of a real human being
living his life in turbulent times
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