9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful and moving perspective of war
I don't normally do 5 stars so as I try to review this book, I will try to explain what makes it (in my eyes) so special.
Written in chronological order from before the start of the Falklands War this is a number of eye witness accounts so the perspective varies. This perspective is balanced with civilians and Argentines so all aspects of the conflict are...
Published on 24 Jun 2008 by N. Brett
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Has some perspectives to offer, but...
There are a wealth of books on the Falklands, but this one claims to be the most sustained oral history available. It certainly comes with some impressive credentials, being part of the 'Forgotten Voices' series of oral histories sponsored by the Imperial War Museum, and also drawing on other archives held by Falklands civillians and the BBC.
I think this...
Published on 31 Mar 2008 by Withnail67
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Has some perspectives to offer, but...,
This review is from: Forgotten Voices of the Falklands: The Real Story of the Falklands War (Paperback)There are a wealth of books on the Falklands, but this one claims to be the most sustained oral history available. It certainly comes with some impressive credentials, being part of the 'Forgotten Voices' series of oral histories sponsored by the Imperial War Museum, and also drawing on other archives held by Falklands civillians and the BBC.
I think this august comapny is part of the problem. The two World Wars are gradually turning into history, and recollections come to us over the distance of at least sixty years. The Falklands, for all the restrictions of the time, was comprehensively chronicled by print, radio, film and television. Retrospectives of the conflict have taken place as recently as 1992 and 2002. Publishing has served a constant stream of accounts and memoirs over the last 26 years.
This is a worthy book, well-edited and comprehensive. The civilian experience and the Argentine perspectives are given respectful room, but the British military stories dominate, as one might expect. Oral history has to be taken with a pinch of salt, as well-publicised accounts interact and achieve a life of their own. This is not to detract from the accounts here which are in many cases vivid and chilling testimony to modern warfare: just a reminder that history is an imperfect human activity like any other.
This is a sizeable and comprehensive oral history of the Falklands war edited with sensitivity by a distinguished veteran. For a clear, objective account of the fighting and the diplomatic context, there are other books available. The major flaw with it is the label 'forgotten'; there's not enough new material to warrant the description. What's here is familiar, but no less moving for that.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very Good .. in parts,
This review is from: Forgotten Voices of the Falklands: The Real Story of the Falklands War (Paperback)No doubt this book took many hours of effort and research, but did it live up to "what was written on the can"? My rating of this book varied from 1 star to 5 stars, depending on where I was in the book. There is no doubt that the accounts of the infantry battles are well documented, as might be expected considering the author's background. We also have a sub-set of the accounts by Sharky Ward - a key player in the air battle - that was one of the most important elements of the Falklands War.
However, I was frustrated (as previously reviewed) in a wholly inadequate map trying to make sense of the numerous places being mentioned that were not on the map: there is no point mentioning a location unless one can see where it is and put it into context. Likewise a simple table giving the timeline of key events would have been helpful. I (perhaps unwarrantedly) got a bit frustrated at the strong emphasis on the political backdrop and how the islanders felt - this information is widely known about/ or as the small boy once said "It tells me more about elephants than I want to read about." There was often an undertone of frustration at the commanders, but operators at the front end are often very strident in their views, and sometimes they are wrong as they do not have the full story, and that is a weakness in the book as on some occasions we seem to have only half the argument. On the other hand those in charge can ensure that any formal review always casts them in a good light!! Shortly after the war I went to a talk given by Sharky Ward - there were many anecdotes given then that could have been included, however the book seemed to dwell too long on his disputes with the superiors.
I felt that the air/ sea war was under-reported, especially as the outcomes of the air battle had major consequences on the land battle. e.g. Rapier gets a mention in passing at the end, casually stating that it took out several Puma helicopters with special forces (p428) - who presumably could have been a real problem. Although there is mention of the rapid turn-round of warships, there is no mention of the amazing support from industry to give so many crucial new tools to the military at break-neck speed, eg the installation of surveillance radars on the Sea King helicopters. Many post conflict statements of appreciation to industry were given, so something could easily have been squeezed in, especially as industry felt equally part of the battle line even if not being fired at. On a similar vein Sea Skua is not even mentioned - yet that played a key part in stopping the resupply of the Falklands by ships. Although the Vulcan bomber raids were of questionable value, I was disappointed not to have read an account from Wg Cmd Dave Castle (retd) of their diversion to Brazil - there is a tremendous story from him about this on one of the TV documentaries. Likewise there is a shortfall in the commentaries available from the very brave Argentinian airmen, eg no mention about how their dreadful losses were being withheld from them by their officers.
As always with retrospective books, there are questions raised about issues that one was unaware about. The Pebble Island raid was portrayed as a victory at the time, which is true, but this book brings out an alternative version indicating that with better planning complete control could have taken of Pebble Island; could this have changed the destiny for Coventry (p222), could the Sea Harriers have been based at Pebble Island etc etc. ?
An earlier review mentioned that there are a number of mistakes and self inconsistences (eg role of Lt Col Chaundler p392, p395). This is true, but where does one draw the line? The technical misapprehensions in certain areas do not detract from what the operators thought - it was their perception at the time. Such an update should wait until some formal papers are published (30 year rule). Perhaps then this book could then be updated to an issue 2.
In summary this book gives an excellent graphic account of the challenges, emotions and bravery of many on the front line. It is not meant as a blow by blow record of events, so some omissions are excusable, but I felt that a shift in emphasis would have served the aims of this book better.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful and moving perspective of war,
This review is from: Forgotten Voices of the Falklands: The Real Story of the Falklands War (Paperback)I don't normally do 5 stars so as I try to review this book, I will try to explain what makes it (in my eyes) so special.
Written in chronological order from before the start of the Falklands War this is a number of eye witness accounts so the perspective varies. This perspective is balanced with civilians and Argentines so all aspects of the conflict are presented.
I had a view of the Falklands war and specifically of the sinking of the Belgrano and I have to admit that I have changed my view upon reading this. I also learnt a great deal that I was not expecting to. Our politicians do not come out of this well (John Nott going to tell the Falkland Islanders that Britain would not come to their rescue if there was a problem - and there were Argentine officers in the room who would have taken the message straight back home) nor does Admiral Sandy Woodward who seems to have made some very poor decisions at the sharp end.
An emotional book too - the sailor who describes how he was blinded for life, the Islanders kept locked up for days, the Argentine conscript not understanding where he was being sent, or why. The injuries caused from burns because we had replaced cotton shirts with fabrics that melted into and onto the skin...The loss of life from the Paras, the Argentine civvie brothers lost on the Belgrano because they stayed on board despite the fact all they did was run a crew shop - many, many sad and brave tales that made me realise what happened all those many miles away in the middle of no-where.
I would have like to have heard from some of the Special Forces that were involved, but generally a very wide ranging and balanced view is presented.
So, why five stars? Well this is a very well written and presented account of war. It made me think and change my views and feel on an emotional level about many of the people involved. Fantastic stuff.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Sacrificial Pawns,
By formatting the narrative of each episode as a series of brief witness statements the author provides razor-sharp insight into the moods and attitudes of both sets of combatants. A single narrator can rarely match this sense of being there. It is fascinating to learn of the fear, the luck, the misfortune, the mistakes and the contrast between myth and reality. So long after the war, the protagonists are no longer afraid to speak honestly. For a example, an officer may have put on a brave show at the time but he admits that he had to go back to the manual.
Critics accuse the book of not being definitive, missing many other voices and ignoring too often the squaddy's view. In response, however he gathered his material, the author has ensured quality if not quantity. The words of the British officers ring with intelligence, humility, compassion and tactical awareness. We learn how much the navy banked their lives on technology and how they could lose the bet. There is an electrifying sense of both British and Argentines discovering the war as they went along. If, like me, you have not read a detailed account of the war then I recommend this. It also puts the record straight: admiral Woodward, knighted afterwards, does not come out well.
14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Same Voices - not the Forgotten Voices,
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This review is from: Forgotten Voices of the Falklands: The Real Story of the Falklands War: The Real Story of the Falklands War in the Words of Those Who Were There (Hardcover)This is indeed a disappointing book, given its claim to be "the definitive oral history" and "the real story" of the Falklands War. It's especially disappointing that it has been written by one of those who served in that war, and shows a remarkably unenlightened and narrow overview of the whole.
Fewer than seventy different 'voices' tell their story and it is, in some 480 pages, therefore the story of a tiny fraction of those who served in the forces of Argentina and the UK in this war. Many of the contributors are very familiar indeed, and thus not at all 'forgotten' - some have even written books of their own.
Whole units and branches that comprise a task force are forgotten and the writer does his comrades a disservice.
More of the British naval dead were from the supply branch than any other. Of those, fourteen were naval cooks. No surviving naval cooks are interviewed and the author clearly is unaware of the make up of a ship's company. Almost never is the story of civilians who serve told, like Hong Kong Chinese laundrymen - two were killed in HM Ships - and NAAFI staff. Yet this volume, with its overblown claims, does not even attempt to cover areas of the war that have hardly ever been mentioned in the past 25 years. No stories from the 1,865 casualties or the six hospital ships or Montevideo or STUFT (other than famous names) or the smaller naval ships - and most not even in the index, let alone a story. Just what was it like for the damage control teams trying to save a ship that was hit by a missile or a bomb, or for an engineering rating in the bowels of a ship while under attack? Don't ask, because you won't find it in this book.
What there is to read is interesting enough, for sure, and some of the stories I have not read elsewhere - but some I have. What is truly shocking is the endorsement of the Imperial War Museum (IWM) because this is very selective history written as if it was the result of fulsome research. It is very lazy a volume indeed.
It is tiresome to see almost all of the people interviewed given their full names, repeated over and again - such as Graham John Edmonds (he is just plain Graham Edmonds to me!) - as if they are names being listed on a memorial for the dead. Thank goodness no one seems to have had three or four 'first' names!
The author's knowledge of the armed services, other than his own, seems poor and he has not troubled to have experts cast an eye over his work. Thus, the Glossary must be treated with care: the entries for LPD, RAS, SBS and 'The Flag' are either wrong or inaccurate and the entry, for example, to MoD does not make clear that it is the UK Ministry of Defence to which it refers, yet his book has interviews with both UK and Argentine servicemen (and no servicewomen). The SBS did not become the Special Boat Service until 1987.
The publisher, the author and the IWM had, in bringing this book together, a real opportunity to give voice to those who voices generally are forgotten, those who merit hardly a footnote in other histories. Sadly, indolence and lack of inspiration, interest and intelligence, has won the day and this book is being sold under a title that is misleading and, arguably, not in the spirit of 'all of one company' - a spirit that I certainly felt while serving in the South Atlantic in 1982.
It does not please me to write this but those who were awarded the South Atlantic Medal of 1982 - and those in the Argentine forces - deserve a lot better than this lazy effort, especially from one of their own.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Poor example of the Forgotten Voices series,
When around half way through reading, I was puzzled why I thought this book didn't "feel" right. I then realised that there was not one comment from an ordinary UK soldier/sailor/airman.
Flicking through the book I saw Major this, General that, Captain this, Colonel that. As a result, the difference between this and other books in the series is striking. It reads like a tactical overview of the conflict rather than an in the trenches one.
Of all the thousands involved, it is the officer classes that are included, again and again. I am not interested in an officer sat behind the lines, I want to know how the ordinary serviceman fought and died on both sides of the conflict.
Ironically it is left to an Argentine Private to decribe what life was like during the conflict, our own Privates appear to have been silenced in favour of the officers to present their version of the truth.
Go and read other books in the Forgotten series, skip this one.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting insights,
3.0 out of 5 stars Another 'voices' anthology,
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing - and not exactly "Forgotten",
This review is from: Forgotten Voices of the Falklands: The Real Story of the Falklands War: The Real Story of the Falklands War in the Words of Those Who Were There (Hardcover)I wanted to like this one, but it has too many faults.
The most basic is that so many of the voices in this one are far from forgotten, with many very familiar names appearing, retelling stories that have been seen in print and other media many times before.
Sweep those aside and you are left with a remarkably small number of people, and remarkably little of any serious interest. There are numerous errors, some of which are the author's, some of which are from the people interviewed. Where these are obvious errors of recollection, it would be nice to have a note from the author stating this - as it is, it comes across as poorly researched.
The most interesting aspect of the book for me was the author's own experiences, and his feelings regarding a particular incident - I'll leave it to other readers to find it and see if they agree.
15 of 22 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A DREADFUL, LAZY BOOK,
This review is from: Forgotten Voices of the Falklands: The Real Story of the Falklands War: The Real Story of the Falklands War in the Words of Those Who Were There (Hardcover)In this anniversary year of the Falklands Conflict I was hoping for something special from this book - frankly, I have been severely disappointed, as you will be IF you read this book.
This book has been lazily compiled over a dinner party with a limited guest list. Lacking are the voices of members of 40, 42 and 45 Commando (Were they not there?). Their silence is almost audible. Where are the voices of 3 Para (the front cover posts a 3 Para member)? Stand still Captain Adrian and make yourself look busy; you are the only 3 Para contributor! Where are the contributions from the Toms, the Marines and Ratings - front line truth and reality? The official war artist gets to say more than 5000 men of 3 Commando Brigade combined!?!? Except for a number of token gestures this is a book compiled by an officer having interviewed other officers and will never be the definitive book on the Conflict. This is no historical tomb, digest of war or manual to conflict - it's a quick buck earner on the back of an anniversary. Don't buy it, donate your money to the South Atlantic Medal Association and visit the parades going on around the country this year to get a real feel for what happened in 1982... or buy `Don't Cry for Me Sergeant Major' by McGowan, Robert and Jeremy Hands (Futura) or `Los Chicos de la Guerra' English language version by Daniel Kon (New English Library) - both far better reads.
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Forgotten Voices of the Falklands: The Real Story of the Falklands War by Hugh McManners (Paperback - 3 April 2008)