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Face To Face With Life's Dangers
on 22 October 2013
As others have said, this IS a fascinating book, and really stands as the tale of the emerging nation of Australia told through one man's (early) life story. Bert Facey emerges from poverty stricken-childhood in western Australia, through loss and separation from his parents, to having to fend for himself from a very young age against cruel employers, wild animals, fate, and Australia's harsh environment. But Bert holds his nerve at every turn, spurred on by a strong personal sense of right and wrong, and an instinct to stay just the right side of danger. These raw materials are then invaluable to Bert when he finds himself dodging bullets on the beaches of Gallipoli, in a war that costs him the lives of two of his brothers. Injury and instinct combine again to throw him into the arms of his bride to be back home in Oz. The disappointment for the reader, though, is that having been entranced by Bert's story upto his marriage, he then skips over the next sixty-plus years in a few paragraphs, hopping through the emergence of his own family and further tribulations through the Depression, the Second World War, and the ongoing health legacies of his First World War experiences. As I said, it's a real shame that Facey does the opposite of what most autobiographers do, in speeding time up through his later life story, rather than slowing it down and spinning us a longer yarn. Despite this, Bert's message is clear - we all need good fortune in our lives, but we're all capable of shaping that good fortune ourselves.