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Whicker's War [Paperback]

Alan Whicker
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
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Book Description

11 Sep 2009

Alan Whicker is quite simply a legend. A visionary and master of his craft, his television shows from the fifties to the nineties almost single handed invented the language of travel television and earned him the status of one of the most foremost of British media icons.

Yet throughout his forty years in TV he was steadfast in his belief that his programmes should not be about himself but about those people he encountered. Until this year when he was persuaded, as part of the 60th anniversary of the invasion of Italy, to tell his remarkable war experiences in two fabulously reviewed hour-long television pieces.

This book uses these programmes as the starting point to tell the story of Alan Whicker's remarkable war.

Alan Whicker joined the Army Film and Photo Unit as an 18-year-old army officer, following the Allied advance through Italy, from Sicily to Venice. He filmed the troops on the front line, met Montgomery, and other military luminaries, filmed the battered body of Mussolini after his execution and accepted the surrender of the SS in Milan. This is remarkable account of the Italian campaign of 1943 and 1944 as he retraces of his steps over sixty years later. Beautifully written, poignant with humour and pathos this is a masterful book by one of the 20th centuries greatest TV journalists.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Entertainment (11 Sep 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007205082
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007205080
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 12.7 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 196,363 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


'a vivid warm-hearted record of his experiences as a leading member of the Army Film and Photo Unit in Italy during the second world … Whicker's prose is such a natural expression of his ebullient personality … that reading it one seems to hear that laconic humour and to realize that he is as dapper and jaunty as he was in 1943.'
Sunday Times

‘Riveting – a marathon television series, now a compulsive and fascinating book…’
Radio 4

'My bookshelf would certainly be poorer without this written record. Inspired…and inspiring.'
Manchester Evening News

'It almost doesn't seem like a book at all, for so familiar is the Whicker economy of language and word rhythms that it is impossible to look over the opening paragraphs without hearing the Whicker voice reading the words out loud inside your head.'
Jean Moir, Daily Telegraph

'One of the outstanding broadcasters of the age and a reporter with notable gifts. Surrounded by carnage, corpses and the memory of lost friends, his familiar voice was as lilting and playful as ever, but laced with elegy…It was beautifully written and delivered with such assurance that even the pauses were eloquent.'
Stephen Pile, Daily Telegraph

About the Author

Born in Cairo, Egypt, 2 August 1925, Alan Whicker attended Haberdashers' Aske's School, London, before serving as captain in Devonshire Regiment during World War II and then a director with the Army Film and Photo Section with British 8th Army and U.S. 5th Army.

His long and extremely distinguished career includes positions as a newspaper war correspondent in Korea, foreign correspondent, novelist, writer, radio broadcaster and host of over 30 episodes of Whicker's World between 1959 and 1993. He has worked for the BBC and ITV, has been broadcast by Channel 4 and has been a producer and host for numerous television specials and documentaries. He is at present the face of the travel company Travelocity.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Whicker's War 3 Dec 2005
By A Customer
An excellent read from cover to cover.As a second world war soldier I could relate quite easily to the various situations described.At times I actually felt I was there with Alan Whicker. I recommend this book to any reader.When I first bought the book I intended to keep it for reading at Christmas,but after having a quick look through it,I was hooked.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST READ BOOK 26 Jan 2006
For anybody who as ever worn uniform, this book brings home; the banality; the comradeship; tragedy; humour, and sheer improbability of life on active service. The fact that the author just happens to have gone on to become a celebrity is soon forgotten.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
By SiCo
This was my chosen book for my summer holiday and it ticked all of the boxes: flowing narrative, clear descriptions, and easy enough to be able to read and keep an eye on the kids at the same time! I have read plenty of accounts of the war but this was the first covering the Italian campaign, something which was important to me due to my late father's involvement. Whicker provides a wonderful insight into the triumphs and tregedies of the campaign, leaving the reader in no doubt as to the foolhardiness of the American General Mark Clark, but also to the courage of Allied and German troops. His description of Mussolini's final days was a real eye-opener to me, but more than anything the horrors of the Anzio campaign are powerfully described. I can thoroughly recommend this book to anybody with an interest in this period of history especially those who don't want a heavyilydetailed, academic study of the war in Italy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars whicker's best so far 20 Feb 2006
This really is a fabulous read, all ages will enjoy this book. I thoroughly recommend it. It is informative, exciting and very moving in parts, buy it!!!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Superb 17 Jun 2007
By Jocko
I have a great interest in the Italian campaign. Having talked with many veterans I can only say that Whicker's book uniquely captures the atmosphere they all describe, for the invasion of Italy proved to be one of the most bloody and bizarre wars on record.

Whicker is a superb writer and seeringly frank - one feels one is sitting alone with him late at night, listening to his intimate thoughts. Angry, ironic, elegiac, humane, his unflagging narrative brings history to life in the most marvelously personal way. As another reader has noted, his account of the last days of Mussolini is quite simply brilliant.

This is a wonderful book - a splendid tribute both to the author and to his comrades.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Would have benefited from better editing 27 Dec 2009
I have to be honest in my surprise at the other reviews of this book. I have been an admirer of Alan Whicker for many years. I was also interested in Italy's involvement in WW2 as it is not something I know a lot about. However, I really struggled with this book. There were some fascinating insights into well known characters from the war who Whicker encountered, but there was just too much jumping back and forth in time, as well as repetition. Some of the content is excellent, but it would have benefited from strong editorial input.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Whicker's World... War II (mostly Italy!) 9 Jan 2014
By Sebastian Palmer TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
I read a couple of chapters of this book whilst on a B&B break about a year ago (it was the only book amongst a load of pulpy looking fiction paperbacks that looked readable at this particular B&B!), and it was, like Whicker himself, very engaging and charming.

I read a lot about military history, much of it very grim. What little I read of this - as Whicker travelled through Italy with a British army film and photography unit in 1943 - was fascinating, but more about life behind the lines, rather than at the front. It was both highly interesting, and highly readable, so I've decided to buy a copy second hand via Amazon: for less than the cost of a pint I'll be able to read the full story which I only had the chance to dip into on the aforementioned weekend break!

I might well revisit this review for a fuller verdict once I've read the whole thing, but judging it on the basis of the first couple of chapters only, it's excellent.
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