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on 23 April 2013
This is a harrowing but uplifting tale centred around four prisoners of war, all of whom spent the majority of the Second World War in German POW camps. All four also had an interest in birds, which helped them pass the time and come through of the experience. What better way to release their minds beyond the barbed-wire fences than by watching the birds, who could go about their lives both inside and outside the barbed wire. Working without binoculars or other aids, they carried out scientific studies of birds and their behavior - redstart, goldfinches and many more. The book is very well-researched with the help of the four families, although it's a little short and very focused on the birding side of the story. Personally, I'd have rather the book been a little longer and gone into a little more detail on the POW experience - more on the food, living conditions, other activities that went on around them - but essentially, I enjoyed this book and I'm saying I wanted it to go on longer. So recommended reading!
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on 22 August 2013
Biography is often about looking back over a life to see how the trials and tribulations of life have shaped and influenced a life well lived. Here is the moving story of 4 young men who marched off to war only to be imprisoned almost as soon as their feet touched the enemy soil. Held in various POW camps at some point their paths crossed and their common interest in ornithology set up a friendship that not only endured but enabled each of them to turn these lost years into something worthwhile as they each found a way not simply of pursuing careers in ornithology post war but of making an incalculable contribution to conservation and need to the lives of millions who also took up the challenge. Birders and RSPB members will love this book of course but the book should also appeal to anyone interested in WWII and its aftermath or simply in how individuals have overcome and survived living hell.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 27 December 2012
Really enjoyed this , a different slant on POW's in WW2 . A must for any birders out there .
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 17 December 2012
my husband, former Lancaster bomber pilot, retains interest iin WW2 records and loves birds - winning combination as a Christmas present
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on 5 February 2014
Nice easy to read book that is a treat to read . I kept putting it down and just thinking we never had a book that looked at skill knowledge , the way these men spent there time behind fences . It's true we may be captured by walls or rooms yet out brain is the doorway to escape . . Learning collecting nature the changing seasons of natural world is free yet it also gives you hope simple pleasures like the finding a nest , recording , bird song , are ways to escape the reality that can suffocate us if only people would enjoy the beauty of the birds flora fauna around us . It would make such a difference to our lives
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on 22 July 2013
I love this book - sensitive, inspiring and written in such a way as to give the feeling you were being told a story by someone who genuinely cares. It is well researched and factual with humour interspersed. If you love birds, history or just a thoroughly good story then this is a must-read for you. It completely surprised me. The artwork is beautiful too.
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on 17 September 2013
An informative and fascinating book about four founding members of conservation and their struggles as PoW's during WWII. Well researched and written that you feel a warmth to the four men involved and their other comrades. Possibly a little longer than it should have been but still a good read.
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on 6 February 2013
This is a great read. Very interesting how some prisoners on a POW camp took up bird watching while trying not to give the wrong reason what they are doing to the guards.
At times a hard read but in the end an uplifting read - recommend it!!
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on 1 March 2013
What an great story of some well known names in birdwatching, gives a good insight as to what it was like in a prison camps, world war 2 and very interesting for general readers who have a historical interest.
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on 11 May 2015
Went on too long and I never felt it had much 'meat' on the story. But interesting how the birds helped with the prisoners sanity when in such a dreadful place in their lives.
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