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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spare, vivid, unsentimental memoir of Spanish Civil War
Laurie Lee's spare, unsentimental memoir of his experience as a volunteer in the Spanish Civil War should take a place, I think, with Orwell's Homage to Catalonia as one of the English language classics of the time. Moved by idealistic sympathy for the Republican cause, Lee begins with his winter's journey by foot across the Pyrenees only to be taken as facist...
Published on 2 July 1997

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful prose about an ugly war
Laurie Lee describes his experience with no self pity about the hardships he endured. His prose at times is so lyrical it seems to almost be out of place in the ravaged surroundings he finds himself in. However, having previously read his book 'As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning' this book A Moment Of War' had a lot to live up to and unfortunately failed to reach the...
Published 16 months ago by Tigger


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spare, vivid, unsentimental memoir of Spanish Civil War, 2 July 1997
By A Customer
Laurie Lee's spare, unsentimental memoir of his experience as a volunteer in the Spanish Civil War should take a place, I think, with Orwell's Homage to Catalonia as one of the English language classics of the time. Moved by idealistic sympathy for the Republican cause, Lee begins with his winter's journey by foot across the Pyrenees only to be taken as facist infiltrator and thrown into an underground pit-prison with a soon to executed deserter. Eventually allowed to join the International Brigade, he continues to tell a story of disillusionment: "I imagined a shoulder-to-shoulder brotherhood, a brave camaraderie joined in one purpose, not the fragmentation of national groups scattered around the courtyard talking wanly only to each other. Indeed they seemed to share a mutual air of unease and watchfulness, of distrust and even dislike." Yet A Moment of War is not sour story. Its prose evokes awareness heightened by danger and deprivation. Of a humble bowl of bean soup Lee writes, "Bean soup hot and chunky, with an interesting admixture of tar, but to me a gluttonous reward after almost two weeks of near famine in the cave. I remembered again the concentration of the senses, of smell and flavor, that hunger brings to appetite, and with each steaming spoonful I was also aware of the grime of the unscrubbed table, the rusting metal of the soup plate, the sharp frozen landscape outside, almost the fatness of each bean." Of a chance reencounter with a Spanish girl who smells of "fresh mushrooms and tampled thyme, woodsmoke and burning orange," he recalls the heady, sensual magic of being young, the "rare and magnetic driving patterns of youth, cutting across the humdrum chaos of the multitudes." The real story, however, is one of war told from a soldier's viewpoint, long delays and boredom interspersed with seemingly random episodes of violence, as vivid as any soldier's tale ever written. A Moment of War was a refreshing discovery for this media-burdened, hype-wearied reader. I am now searching for more of Laurie Lee's not well enough known titles.
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52 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifull and haunting, 9 May 2003
By 
Amazon Customer "Bartleby2009" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Moment of War (Paperback)
This is Lee's third and final installment of his autobiographical trilogy.
Unlike Orwell, Borkenau or Hemmingway, Lee was not a middleclass young man with a private income. He was a worker-poet, and this life experience, combined with his remarkable talent with the english language, brings across an incredible clarity and immediacy to his writing that earlier english authors all too often lacked.
They say a picture paints a thousand words, but a book such as this tells much more than pictures ever could.
This book paints a worms eye view of a country 'at war with itself', the suffering and brutalisation of the the experience of the people he meets is all the more vivid because it is banal - theres no melodrama. Its just there, just a fact, like mud.
If you have an interest in the Spanish War then this is a vital addition to your library, but if you just enjoy good literature then this is also a book you shouldn't die without having read.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fine Conclusion to a Towering Trilogy., 6 Sept. 2009
By 
Bob Salter "Captain Spindrift" (Wiltshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Moment of War (Paperback)
I have sat in the Woolpack Inn at Slad in the Cotswolds, the village where Laurie Lee was brought up, and the area he so beautifully evokes in his hymn for a lost countryside "Cider with Rosie". The pub licensee informed me that Lee was once a regular and I imagined him telling tales by a crackling winters fire to a spellbound audience. I have a feeling he would have been good entertainment. I also paid my respects at his grave in the nearby churchyard. Perhaps not having the two pear ciders before would have been more respectful, but I am sure Laurie would have understood. I feel some kinship to him as he was a west country man through and through, and came from humble origins. When I recently walked the Cotswold Way I passed again close to Slad and so I decided to read "A Moment in War" the last short book in his trilogy that has taken me 20 years to complete.

After Lee's bittersweet childhood, at the age of nineteen he travelled to Spain with his violin in a sort of rights of passage journey. He travelled mostly on foot and came to know and love the country and its people intimately. At that time the country was on the brink of civil war. He decribes this journey in his book "As I walked out One Midsummers Morning". In "A Moment in War" he returns to Spain to fight in the International Brigades against Franco. This follows his adventures as he crosses the Pyrenees in winter to join the fight. If you are looking for action then you will find nothing apart from one brief skirmish. But if you want a truthful depiction of the realities of war, then look no further. War means hunger and poverty. Lee arrives in Tarazona to find the only food he can purchase are beech nuts. The following passage sums things up neatly. "In our state of mind, I don't think there was one among us who wouldn't have burnt a rare church carving, a relic of a thousand years piety, to have gained himself five minutes warmth". Some of Lee's prose is hauntingly beautiful as one might expect from a poet of his stature.

Recently some critics have cast doubt on the veracity of Lee's account and they may well have a point. Lee has a few too many brushes with death and "Les liaisons Dangereuses" with the opposite sex, which can push credulity to the limit. But the arbitrary nature of his spells in captivity make up for this and the sincere way in which he captures the sheer boredom and stupidity of war. At the end of the day does it really matter if Lee has embellished or made up large parts of his book? He isn't the first and won't be the last. There is a famous line from the western "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance". "When the legend becomes the fact print the legend". An excellent conclusion to a wonderful trilogy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MOMENT OF WAR, 5 Dec. 2010
By 
Mr. Peter J. K. Mccarthy (PHILLACK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Moment of War (Hardcover)
Having read the other two Laurie Lee books that form this trilogy, I was keen to complete it. In no way was I disappointed. You are left with the cliffhanger at the end of,"As I Walked Out..." and this book cruised straight on. The heat of the previous book is forgotten as you enter the freezing paths of the Pyrenees and the even colder events of the Spanish Civil War. A real treat. I've just ordered, "A Rose For Winter," to continue reading his works on visiting Spain.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a great read, 18 Dec. 2010
By 
George Gray "old bookie" (Hampshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Moment of War (Paperback)
Having read the first two books in Laurie Lee's trilogoy, I was not disappointed in this, the last. Written in the same magical style, I was rivetted from start to finish
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an everymans/womans experience of war, 18 Oct. 2010
By 
Paul Hoffman - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Moment of War (Paperback)
Lee strips away the romantic notions of fighting for a cause be it religion, ideology or country with this ode to a young mans lost idealism in the chaos of war. A long litany of mistakes abound as Lee is mistaken as twice as a spy and as unthought out plans result in the unnecessary loss of life of innocent people. He is drawn into webs of petty politics as people scramble around holding on or gaining power manipulating events and ordinary people for their own purposes,. The story has a resonance in any day and age as it does what a book should do, fill in the missing bits of truth of reality which are left out of official events and history books in a painfully poignant way.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful prose about an ugly war, 28 Oct. 2013
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Laurie Lee describes his experience with no self pity about the hardships he endured. His prose at times is so lyrical it seems to almost be out of place in the ravaged surroundings he finds himself in. However, having previously read his book 'As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning' this book A Moment Of War' had a lot to live up to and unfortunately failed to reach the unforgettable heights of the aforementioned book. This kindle version disappointingly omitted the illustrations which were listed on the last page.
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4.0 out of 5 stars a beautiful bauble of faction, 9 Feb. 2015
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This is a beautiful exercise in lyricism.It is hard to piece together a coherent story from what is written and most of it seems to be about a man's interface with random situations in a war with bitter cold as much as anything. I was glad not to be there. The book is sort and beautifully written but I found it hard to believe it was based on much fact, especially as it was written about 50 years after the events described in it. By the end, I was left quite cold by tthe book. Style won out over substance. I questioned how muc was fact,and how much fiction. Morethe latter than the former was my conclusion. If loking for a non-fiction account of Ithat spanish civil war, I would catualy by pass this in favour of homage to Catalonia. It is vastly superior. Quality writing and the raw edge of the lived experience. However if beautiful words are your thing then this is a very good read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars War...what is it good for?, 1 Jan. 2015
The third in Laurie Lee’s autobiographical trilogy, A Moment of War is an ironic comment on how Lee – and many others like him, became part of a conflict they never really understood: namely the Spanish Civil War. The author gently mocks his own naiveté throughout; at the same time providing powerful pathos, as he describes the three times he came within a whisker of being executed as a spy, and the futility of the whole affair – imagined by many foreign volunteers at the outset as a romantic and noble grand gesture, but in reality a lethargic and squalid waiting game; with nothing but disappointment at the end.
Lee’s understated yet lyrical and compelling prose is what lifts this from being a mere memoir; as with the two books before it: Cider with Rosie and As I Walked out one Midsummer Morning; it is simply a joy to read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Laurie's war glory free., 18 Jun. 2012
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This review is from: A Moment of War (Paperback)
I can see why he didn't get to writing this for 40 years or more, his role in Spanish history was invisible and undoubtedly left him not wanting to even think about it. He was always very lucky and that is what it is all about. They sent him home, seemingly out of kindness, which it was, but he didn't belong because he was epileptic, so he missed the descent to a deeper and deeper hell. The overall impression is of political and random chaos which is very personally and nicely described in this short and pertinent book.
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A Moment of War
A Moment of War by Laurie Lee (Paperback - 2 July 1992)
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