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32 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book of the year perhaps?
I was lucky enough to be successful on an e-bay bid on a limited edition print of this book. It arrived on Christmas Eve and early on Christmas morning I finished the most incredible book I have ever read. What makes the book all the more fascinating is that its all true. I truly hope this book written by a 90 year old ex POW gets the publicity it deserves and Horace...
Published on 1 Jan 2009 by tomtom

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A tale of dubious believability and several obvious errors of fact
The book, its subject and author were previously unknown to me. With some of the books of WWII exploits where POW life is included certain names may be repeatedly mentioned, for example that of Pat Reid from the real Great Escape story and as a character in the movie of that name. Greasley's is not one previously recognisable from elsewhere.

When starting to...
Published 2 months ago by Andy_atGC


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A tale of dubious believability and several obvious errors of fact, 4 May 2014
By 
Andy_atGC (London UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Do The Birds Still Sing In Hell? (Paperback)
The book, its subject and author were previously unknown to me. With some of the books of WWII exploits where POW life is included certain names may be repeatedly mentioned, for example that of Pat Reid from the real Great Escape story and as a character in the movie of that name. Greasley's is not one previously recognisable from elsewhere.

When starting to read the book, my original intention was to write a very different and more positive review. However, I soon began to realise that it was reading as a work of fiction rather than a biography. Excessive detail supposedly remembered several decades later when most men's memories will have faded, several improbable situations and other elements created major doubts about its inherent truth. Factual errors, such as a reference to transistors, a technology unknown in the early 1940s and only developed post-war, and a suggestion that there was common knowledge of Hitler's extermination camps in the earlier war years are among several others that strengthened opinions. The Foreword includes the phrase 'based on a true story' which is a giveaway. Probably 10-20% is true and the remainder pure fantasy by its co-author.

This is another of those claimed-to-be-true wartime stories and it starts almost routinely but follows into the improbably unlikely. To escape once was extremely difficult and dangerous. Greasley claims to have done so two or more times a week and possibly 200 times or more in total. German POW guards were not prime troops; incompetence among the guards was possible as was laziness, but allowing that many escapes which were supposedly never noticed although roll-calls with physical body counts occurring twice or more daily is totally unbelievable.

Horace Greasley was only 20 in 1939 when enlisted for Army service with thousands more like him. After basic training, he had only spent a few short weeks on active service when he was taken prisoner by the Germans in Northern France. He was then force-marched for a few days, during which several of his fellow captives fell ill through lack of food and water and were arbitrarily executed by their captors. Eventually, he finished up in a Polish POW camp. That could well have been the end of his story. As luck would have it, the 17-year-old daughter of the quarry owner was allowed to act as interpreter within the camp and the two supposedly gradually fell in love. That is also highly improbable. When subsequently transferred to another camp about 40 miles away and missing the girl he supposedly loved, he repeatedly schemed his way out to meet up with her and then back again, all without his absences being noticed.

The quantity of sexual storylining in this book and the language used within it go very much against the grain of expectations from a man probably then in his 90s. Although sexual freedom during the war years was one thing, those involved simply did not discuss it then or probably since. If they did, it was more likely to be hinted at and they would likely be far more restrained, inexplicit and leave much unsaid.

I had recently purchased another such 'wartime biography' where at least one of that subject's fellow POWs suggests that he was prone to tell tall tales and was known to use other people's history to add to his own. The story is undoubtedly widely embellished as it is unlikely that the amount of included detail would or could have been remembered half a century and more after the events supposedly occurred.

A worthwhile read but one to be taken with a very large pinch of salt.
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46 of 54 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not really a war memoir, 10 May 2013
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It's got an introduction which promises a great war story but I was hugely disappointed in this book. The story largely concentrates on the physical relationships with women that Horace Greasley had rather than his war experiences at a POW camp and the graphic descriptions are extremely clumsy, puerile and at times, sadly laughable. I'm not a particularly delicate flower but I tired of the regular use of the c-word and I felt I could have understood and appreciated Greasley's wartime story without the seemingly endless and very detailed descriptions of his sex life which seemed unnecessary, a bit tedious and at times made me snort with appalled laughter (and I'm not sure they were supposed to be funny).

I genuinely wouldn't recommend this book to anyone and particularly not younger adult readers. There are much, much better war memoirs out there and I think this book's tone is quite damaging to the memory of those who served. I don't often bin books rather than take them to the charity shop but I did in this case because I didn't like the idea of someone picking this up and thinking it was a historical book and then discovering it was actually pretty sordid. A good sub could have pulled this into a great story but instead it was more kiss and tell than historical record. Such a shame.
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28 of 33 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars rubbish semi-porn, 12 Nov 2013
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I've read a lot of military history books and can forgive poor writing for a good read. But this is very much along the lines that someone would tell their grandchildren rather than expect reasonable adults to read it. The ghost writer takes far too much liberty with dialogue and actions outside of his characters' own experience. I also didn't expect this to be a tale of largely the protagonist's sexual exploits.

I found this so disappointing as to justify my rating the book beyond my normal approach of just giving it stars.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Probably Jeremy Clarkson's favourite bedtime story, 11 Dec 2013
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What could have been an interesting and moving account of a soldier's somewhat unusual experience of captivity is ruined by the appalling writing. Do we really need to know how big the protagonist's erection is? Or how powerful his ejaculations were? Or how he galvanised the spirits of those around him or how he almost won the Second World War single-handed? And as for the dialogue - I could barely read a page of this book without wanting to throw it against the wall. Or burn it. Which might have been inappropriate given the subject matter.
I have no doubt that Horace Greasley was a brave man, but I do doubt that he essentially wrote this and that Ken Scott merely acted as his hands. If this was really the work of Mr Greasley then not only was he a truly brave man but he must have had an ego the size of a planet.
The book reads as though it was written by Richard "The Hamster" Hammond after binging on 80's buddy movies and Columbian nasal powder in order to be read to Jeremy Clarkson as a bedtime story. A hideous image.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Great story .. Pity about the book, 23 Nov 2013
By 
Jonathan Ryan (County Wicklow, Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Do The Birds Still Sing In Hell? (Paperback)
This VERY disappointing book could usefully be employed in a course for budding writers as a classic example of how to RUIN what could have been great story with a narrative laced with quasi-titillating, voyeuristic sexual scenes, ludicrous and unbelievable heroics attributed to the central all-singing, all-dancing, all-shagging character - even down to size of his erection - and stereo-typically stupid Nazis brutalising him and his doughty companions as 'English pig-dogs'
Absolutely awful.
Potentially an inspiring memoir of Horace Greasley's bravery in the face of overpowering odds sadly reduced to unbelievable fantasy .. pity.

If you want James Bond read Ian Fleming .. a writer who knew how to leave a little to the reader's imagination.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Politically motivated fantasy, 8 Feb 2014
This review is from: Do The Birds Still Sing In Hell? (Paperback)
The artistic licence shown by the author (Ghost writer) goes beyond plain fantasy and appears to be motivated by a political agenda. Rubbish laced with an attempt to titilate.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't waste your time or money, 8 Dec 2013
The introduction of this book completely misleads the reader to plough on through a shallow childlike 'history'. It's pretty poor.
I can't believe the 'author' in his eighties described the constant sexual encounters in such graphic soft porn terms. Nor can one believe the ghost writer's claim that he 'was only the fingers on the typewriter'
A very poor book that has little to do with the subject matter - unless you like adult comics.
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32 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book of the year perhaps?, 1 Jan 2009
I was lucky enough to be successful on an e-bay bid on a limited edition print of this book. It arrived on Christmas Eve and early on Christmas morning I finished the most incredible book I have ever read. What makes the book all the more fascinating is that its all true. I truly hope this book written by a 90 year old ex POW gets the publicity it deserves and Horace Greasley is able to share his incredible tale with as many readers as possible. A truly special book, an astonishing, graphic and honest account of brutality, love and hope. Surely a candidate for book of the year in 2009.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Poorly written, full of factual errors, cringing sex scenes, 2 Jun 2014
By 
N. Rowe (Newark United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Do The Birds Still Sing In Hell? (Paperback)
It's like The Great Escape meets Schindler's List with added 1970s porn and Battle comic bravado and written by Dan Brown (yes, it's a page turner, but it's clunky and cliched). I bought this for my dad and have just read it myself. There are parts where it feels a bit suspect, that Horace (aka Jim) has painted a bigger part than probably happened in reality. Heroic and modest (in places).

And then the sex begins. I don't mind a bit of 'how's your father' etc. but this is pretty toe-curling and amateurish, like it's been copied out of an ancient Fiesta or Escort (or whatever they were called back when you used to find porn under bushes in the countryside).

There's very little real emotion portrayed between Jim & Rosa and in the end it all quickly peters out rather unsatisfactorily. I've read biographies of other wartime characters and they are all head and shoulders above this two-dimensional sensationalist piece. The relationships in Hollyoaks seem slightly more believable.

And the factual errors! Cripes! I don't know if Ken Scott deliberately left them in as if to say "honestly, nothing to do with me, I just typed up what he told me", or whether no-one took the time to actually check these things. Without even going back to the book to find them, I can reel off the following: 1) Jim was strafed by a Messerschmitt 210 in 1940 (no he wasn't, it must have been a 110 because the 210 was a dodgy replacement that briefly appeared in service around 1943); 2) the book states that the Japanese were driven out of Burma in 43/44 (this didn't happen until 1945); 3) Jim is carried home in a Dakota and the pilot 'opens the bomb bay to show the returning Brits the white cliffs of Dover' (no he didn't, the Dakota never had a bomb bay); 4) Jim is given a lift back home in a Land Rover (no he wasn't, the Land Rover was still 2 years away from the drawing board). Heaven knows what other mistakes are in there. These are such simple, glaring errors that you do wonder what else is complete bollards as well. There's even a specific reference to the end of the war in Europe, stating a date in May '1944', despite having gone on about it being 1945 for a couple of chapters. For god's sake, get a proof-reader!

So, generally, quite bad. If it's the only book to hand and you need something to read, it won't make your brain melt or eyes fall out. Take it with a huge pinch of salt and pretend it was made up by some American B movie writer and you might cope.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Courage and endurance, 12 April 2014
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This was an almost unbelievable story but I guess that the war had many other untold ones. This book is a story of courage and " necessity being the mother of invention" I would recommend it without reservation.
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Do The Birds Still Sing In Hell?
Do The Birds Still Sing In Hell? by Horace Greasley and Ken Scott (Paperback - 6 May 2013)
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