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4.3 out of 5 stars79
4.3 out of 5 stars
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HALL OF FAMEon 17 December 2002
Louis De Bernieres has written some marvelous literature. "Red Dog", is a wonderful true story about a dog that befriended a good portion of Australia, and has been memorialized with a bronze statue as well as other books. Faithful readers of this author will likely be disappointed if they expect another sweeping novel. This short story does not appear to have been planned, as it unfolds with crisp episodes in the remarkable life of this canine. It is extremely unusual in that the book has been illustrated with what appear to be etchings. Illustration has sadly become the domain of primarily very expensive, limited edition, and small press books.

This is not a child's book, perhaps for young readers in Junior High, but not for young children. This is a book about adults and how a remarkably charismatic canine changed their lives. This is not a fairly tale, it includes the realities of very trying circumstances and the people who pioneer the way in this extremely difficult environment. When it gets hot in the USA warnings suggest certain groups stay indoors. When it gets hot down under, warnings are issued for gas tanks that are prone to explode when exposed to the sun!

I think it is great that an author who has established himself as an accomplished literary writer would have the courage to step well away from what has worked for him repeatedly. I was reminded of some of John Steinbeck's work that centered on animals, both his own and fictional. If John Steinbeck can make the change I believe it is safe for other accomplished authors to explore unfamiliar genres, and they do not deserve to be punished for doing so. This is especially the case when the results are so worthwhile. I was going to give this 4 stars but I stepped it up to 5. The book was punished and I wanted to even out what is a brief but entering read.
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on 21 February 2006
This is the sort of book you should read on a rainy, Sunday afternoon, in front of a roaring fire, with a dog leaning against your legs. If, like me, you live in a titchy flat with central heating, it will make you feel as good as sitting by a roaring fire would. It's a heart-warming little gem of a comfort read.
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on 27 November 2001
Red Dog is utterly endearing and quite the best book in its simplicity that I have read for ages - and, I'm not easily impressed! Red Dog is a real character - it seems fitting that the book is set in NW Australia - the directness and simplicity of people's lives and the landscape mirrors Louis de Berniers' subject matter beautifully. It is the kind of book that can be for adults or children - either way, it's hard to have a dry eye by the end. Doesn't matter if you're a dog lover or not - it made me laugh and cry!
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on 31 August 2006
We always had mongrel dogs when I was growing up and this story is every mongrel and every Australian you have ever known. I read this book two years ago and I still reccomend it to every reader I know. Beautiful without being slushy. A book to curl up with with a glass of wine and the curtains shut against the winter night.
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This is about an amazing four legged free spirit ; a roving rascal owned by no one but loved by all, or nearly all ,who met him. In return for kindly giving him a lift he kindly leaves behind a disgusting fart with a look which says aren't you so very lucky that I shared that with you. " Tally Ho " epitomises that irreverent , mischievous but at the heart decent Aussie outlook on life. After reading this short, but worthwhile book I wish I had a dog to discuss these adventures with.
It is also about a way of life in the remotest parts of Western Australia.The rugged, red landscape becomes real and you can almost feel the blistering noonday heat.There is nothing for it ; I must go to Dampier to pay my respects to Red Dog !
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on 14 August 2011
This is a review I wrote at the Amazon US site.And since John didn't leave a review here at Amazon UK,I will reproduce his review below,so you can read what I'm writing about when I refer to John's review;
" 5.0 out of 5 stars Red Dog -Louis de Bernieres, September 26, 2004
John Mackay - See all my reviews
This review is from: Red Dog (Hardcover)
This is bound to become a classic, like "The Snow Goose". De Berniere has captured a disappearing Australia - frontier Western Australia in the not-too distant past.

Like many good novels in the last decade ("Dirt Music","Cloud Street" "The Shark Net"), it is set in Western Australia. It is a story for all ages, told in simple, unfussy narrative. It does not idealize the dog, its friends or enemies. I am surprised that it has been dismissed by some as a "children's book". I cannot imagine why.

Any dog lover would be delighted by this novella.

I just hope it's not made into a film. It's a narrative that can only live on the page.

It can be read in a few hours, but its effect will last for years. "
I can't sum it up any better than John MacKay has in his review of it here.
But worth repeating is the last line of his review;

"It can be read in a few hours, but its effect will last for years."

If you can,buy the illustrated version.The wonderful drawings by Alan Baker added so much to the reading experience for me,making it more of a work of art than just a book.
I will treasure my copy in the years ahead.

Just one correction to the "Glossary of Australian-isms" in the book.
It says a "Stubbie" is a can of beer.But a "Stubbie" is a small bottle of beer.
A can of beer is called a "Tinnie",even though now-days they are made out of aluminum.
My preference as a beer drinker is the "Stubbie",as I think the beer tastes better and is less of a fuss to drink out of.

Here's to Louis De Bernieres.I raise my "Stubbie" to you for a tale well read.
(tail well red...get it?...never mind)
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on 7 November 2001
This is a slim A5 size book about a legendary dog in Western Australia.
It is a touching tale in which the author in his usual wonderful way, brings every character to life, especially the dog.
It's as much a story for children as is Peter and the Wolf and the Harry Potter's.
A particular essence of the Australian Outback is brillianty captured. No small feat for a foreigner. But this foreigner is an expert story teller.
It's sad and funny, it's thought-provoking and entertaining. And it's rightly enjoying huge sales.
But for those who judge de Bernieres solely on his Corelli book (or worse that film!) and who haven't read his others, should avoid this one at all costs.
For people who love a good read, this book will not disappoint. But expect to cry at the end of it.
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on 26 February 2007
Red dog is a wonderfully written book by Louis De Bernieres which will make you laugh and at some points make you feel upset.

Most of the scenes are set in the Australian outback and De Bernieres use of imagery is superb. once engrossed in the pages you are whisked off to Karratha Western Australia a small mining town with dusty roads, dark red earth and rock and one smelly red dog.

I would recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in Australia and animals the language is simple but sometimes you may become confused by some of the Australian words or literacy but fear not there is a glossary of Australianisms to keep you up to date and before you know it you be talking with your Sheila about going bush and having a stubbie.
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on 18 November 2002
I have to admit to buying this purely on the basis of reading his more famous (and excellent) book Captain Corelli's Mandolin. This is a short story in comparison and maybe the better for it as you can knock it off within an hour or two. It tells the ‘true’ story of a dog that lived in the Australian outback as recounted by various people whose lives it touched. At times funny, sometimes sad it makes for a wonderful tale about the bonds of friendship between man and dog as well as communities uniting in a common cause.
A book you will be glad you read.
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on 22 January 2005
Written by the literary author Louis de Bernieres this slim volume details the life of the Australian canine Red Dog.
Each short chapter details an escapade in the life of Red Dog who sets about befriending much of the Australian population. As a result there is a bronze statue in Dampier commemorating him.
It must be said that this is not a book aimed at young children. Whilst there are many funny anecdotes, it details the responsibilities of dog ownership which could sadden a younger reader.
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