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A Very Strange Way to Go to War: The Canberra in the Falklands Hardcover – 11 Jul 2012


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Aurum Press Ltd (11 July 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845137450
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845137458
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 3.2 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 329,154 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

A well-written and vivid account that provides a marvellous mix of personal recollection and the compelling tale of the almost surreal events of 30 years ago

(The Telegraph)

About the Author

ANDREW VINE is an award-winning journalist and assistant editor of the Yorkshire Post. He is author of Last of the Summer Wine: The Story of the World’s Longest Running Comedy Series, and of A Very Strange Way to Go To War: The Canberra in the Falklands. He lives in Leeds.


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Samantha on 11 July 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love this book, not least because I worked on Canberra for a number of years and recognised some of the characters who worked on her.

I think it would be a great read, no matter how unfamiliar you are with the ship. It gives a great perspective on how very different sets of people come together under strained circumstances and work as a team in preparing for the trip south, and what they experienced in the Falklands. It made me laugh and cry, and reminded me how great the human spirit can be, and what an amazing vessel Canberra was.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By MS on 18 Nov 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book tells the story of Canberra going to the Falklands war. The book is a thoroughly gripping account of the call up, conversion, sailing and service of the Great White Whale. From the secret rendez-vous at Gibraltar as the first conversion calculations had to be done, through to the homecoming, the author makes you feel as if you were there with them. The tales of the mini dramas along the way are told in detail, the equipment shortages, the make do approach and the pride of Canberra's crew in doing their bit. Like most wars it began with the delusion that a diplomatic solution was coming and many of the crew were looking forward initially to a different kind of cruise. The author tells of the early friction as the new passengers adjusted to their surroundings and the early pointless rows about things like not wearing boots to run around the deck. We hear some of the P&O head office dealings with MoD and the problem they faced when MoD insisted no non-Brits were to be on the ship.

The incongruity is sailing to battle at the ends of the earth in the glamorous surroundings of a cruise ship shines through the pages, the P&O crew doing their best to keep things as close to normal operation as possible, the band of the marines becoming strolling players providing entertainment. The story becomes more tense as all realize that they won't be turning back and you can feel you are there in San Carlos water as the Argentinians unsuccessfully target the ship repeatedly. The book tells of the great animosity between Canberra and QE2 when she eventually comes south. We hear how QE2 refused to transfer supplies of food to Canberra with the troops despite the latter ship running low - the cunarder claiming she needed it for the return journey.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Peter Durward Harris #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 15 July 2014
Format: Hardcover
The author has managed to largely avoid politics in this book, which is quite extraordinary given the nature of the book, although politics creeps in here and there. The war itself is given very limited coverage beyond Canberra's role, although the main events are mentioned briefly.

The author discusses the life of the Canberra from its beginnings in the fifties to its scrapping in the late nineties, but mostly focuses on its 1982 role as a troopship. It also carried supplies, served as a hospital ship when required, and also carried prisoners of war back to Argentina - well away from Buenos Aires, where by that time the junta was in trouble so it was wise to land those prisoners near the southern tip.

The book discusses the conversion of the cruise liner to a warship, explaining that it was far from ideal in that there was plenty of glass, wood and other material that would be avoided as far as possible in a warship, but that it had the capacity needed. Other advantages became apparent along the journey including excellent training space, but the ship was still vulnerable - and if the Argentine commanders had realized that the Canberra was carrying troops, they would have attacked her as soon as they spotted her at anchor. Britain must be grateful that initially, Argentina focused in attacking the warships.

Plenty of coverage is given to the way the facilities on board were adapted, the relations between crew and troops and how that developed as the days and weeks rolled by. There was also a dispute between the Canberra, which was in danger, and the QE2, which stayed well away from the main action, but brought extra troops to South Georgia along with much needed extra food, but refused to let the Canberra have any of that food.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Sue on 7 Sep 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is good reading for anyone who sailed on the Canberra as I did for many year, a very enjoyable book well written in honour of a grand old lady of the sea's.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By geordie on 21 Oct 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
a fantastic book, as one who served with the band during this time it brought back many memories both good and bad.
definetly a book to recommend
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Great White Whale as she was called played a crucial part in the success of the war. Many of the clvilian crew volunteered to sail on her to the South Atlantic potential putting themselves at risk of injury or death. It is good to hear their tale told in detail at last.
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