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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent primer on the war-time Middle East, 25 Jan 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: To War with Whitaker: Wartime Diaries of the Countess of Ranfurly, 1939-45 (Paperback)
This is an almost daily diary of a courageous woman who goes to great lengths to travel to the theatre of war to which her husband is posted. It is clear, concise and witty, and is sprinkled with several references to the major (and not so major) players in the Middle East in WW2. It also gives the reader a surprisingly good feel for the mood of the region in this difficult time. Whitaker, the manservant, is a peripheral figure, while the fact that the author is a Countess emerges only rarely. This book is a must for students of WW2, and it nicely complements the many political and military volumes written on the subject of the Middle East at war in the 20th century.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One to cheer the soul, 18 Oct 2001
This review is from: To War with Whitaker: Wartime Diaries of the Countess of Ranfurly, 1939-45 (Paperback)
This book is a pearl. To buy it for the wonderful insight into a world of changing social lifestyles and a unique view of events shaping the modern world is a mistake. Buy it because it is beautifully written, bringing the emotion of the moment to life like few other books. This is a rare treat guaranteed to put a smile on your face!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb account of one of the small players in WW2, 7 Oct 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: To War with Whitaker: Wartime Diaries of the Countess of Ranfurly, 1939-45 (Paperback)
This is a book you can't put down. Ms.Ranfurly's highly personal perspective on the war combines both historical detail of the second world war and the autobiography of one of the many closely involved. This is history without pomposity. Countress Ranfurly has a light and accurate touch in desribing many of the famous names of the desert war and many places in North Africa and the Middle East which have now changed irrevocably.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars absolutely brilliant, 2 Oct 2010
By 
Cazza (highest branch of the apple tree) - See all my reviews
This review is from: To War with Whitaker: Wartime Diaries of the Countess of Ranfurly, 1939-45 (Paperback)
Picked up years ago by chance and given as a present many times since, this is a brilliant adventure story of a woman with a lot of guts in an age where nothing much was expected of women from her social class.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Inside View of the Times, 13 April 2014
By 
Len Cooper "Len" (West Yorkshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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Extremely well written account of the Countesses life in the Middle East during the second world war. In fact quite a unique account, it describes frankly and sympathetically what life was like for the upper classes and for the likes of her valet Whitaker. It describes how she was able to contrive to initially stay with her husband whilst he was posted overseas. There is an added dimension as she is a very intelligent and skilled stenographer who holds key positions where vital information passes through her hands she is able to give the reader an accurate account how the war was progressing and an insight into how high profile generals were perceived. A very good behind the scenes account of how the war was seen. As a diary, it is so well written that you feel as though it is a novel. Nevertheless, the final quarter of the book does become somewhat routine. The majority of the book is so good that, I still give it five stars. A good follow up the Levant Trilogy!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A well written account of life during the 2nd world war., 8 Mar 2014
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This review is from: To War with Whitaker: Wartime Diaries of the Countess of Ranfurly, 1939-45 (Paperback)
A lovely quirky book by the Countess who was always considered to be "The Ugly One" (title of her Auto-biography) but who married well and happily. Her husband says to his servant "we are off to War Whitaker". "Very good my Lord" is the reply. The cover shown here is a photograph of the three of them. A good book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, 20 Nov 2013
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This review is from: To War with Whitaker: Wartime Diaries of the Countess of Ranfurly, 1939-45 (Paperback)
My father drove a tank up through Italy. This book provides a unique view of the war through a woman's position as war secretary to some of the generals through the action.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Had to buy a replacement copy, 3 Aug 2013
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This review is from: To War with Whitaker (Hardcover)
I lent my copy to someone who has not returened it - urgh! So I had to buy anotherr copy - such an amazing read and lifestory (or part thereof) that I did not resent buying another copy - this time it will not be lent to anyone!
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5.0 out of 5 stars best read ever, 15 April 2013
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This review is from: To War with Whitaker: Wartime Diaries of the Countess of Ranfurly, 1939-45 (Paperback)
The only one of her books worth getting but stunning story and I have ordered every copy f as its not online
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5.0 out of 5 stars Feisty young Englishwoman out-manoeuvres Generals, 30 Mar 2013
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This review is from: To War with Whitaker: Wartime Diaries of the Countess of Ranfurly, 1939-45 (Paperback)
The writer of this book (the multi-syllabic Hermione Ranfurly) follows her new husband to Egypt when he is posted to Cairo in WW II. The book draws on her diaries of the time to tell how she refuses to return to the UK when her husband is taken prisoner. Although officially sent home, she fails to turn up at the dock in South Africa to board The Empress of Britain as it embarks for England, and uses lies and subterfuge to find her way back to Cairo. The Empress, meanwhile, goes down in the Atlantic.
Hermione's writing style is blessedly literate and lively. I found myself admiring her modesty and resourcefulness when she starts a succession of jobs as PA to various Army high-ups in or near the war zone in Africa and Palestine. She doesn't brag about her achievements but in the way of upper middle class women of the time, she has the confidence to dive straight into difficult or dangerous situations, always outwitting the generals who want to send her home.
Although missing and worrying about her husband, she never gets maudlin, and manages to have some great times with a huge variety of people, including Freya Stark, Noel Coward and numerous enterprising lesser-known personnel. She also acquires a parrot called Coco.
I adored this book, some of it very funny, much of it poignant - all of it shown against the backdrop of the slow progression of the war in Europe.
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To War with Whitaker: Wartime Diaries of the Countess of Ranfurly, 1939-45
To War with Whitaker: Wartime Diaries of the Countess of Ranfurly, 1939-45 by Hermione Ranfurly,Countess of Ranfurly (Paperback - 16 Oct 1995)
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