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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Defending King and Empire for 9 quid a week
George MacDonald Fraser served in the "other ranks" of the British Army in Burma late in WWII. Commissioned as a subaltern (2nd lieutenant) following the Japanese surrender, he served as a platoon leader in a Gordon Highlander battalion posted to the Middle East before being "demobbed", i.e. released from active duty. His experiences serve as the basis for THE GENERAL...
Published on 15 Jun. 2004 by Amazon Customer

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3.0 out of 5 stars Amusing set of anecdotes, but lacking wider story arc
The General Danced at Dawn is the first book in a set of three semi-fictional memoirs of Lieutenant Dand McNeill, based on the first-hand experiences of George Macdonald Fraser. The book has a weak overall story arc, consisting of a set of anecdotes about various incidents, as McNeill makes his way from Burma, via the Middle East, to Edinburgh. Told in a light-hearted...
Published 25 days ago by Rob Kitchin


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Defending King and Empire for 9 quid a week, 15 Jun. 2004
By 
Amazon Customer (Glendale, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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George MacDonald Fraser served in the "other ranks" of the British Army in Burma late in WWII. Commissioned as a subaltern (2nd lieutenant) following the Japanese surrender, he served as a platoon leader in a Gordon Highlander battalion posted to the Middle East before being "demobbed", i.e. released from active duty. His experiences serve as the basis for THE GENERAL DANCED AT DAWN, initially published in 1970, a first person account by the fictional Dand MacNeill, subaltern of a platoon in an unspecified Highland battalion posted first to Libya, then to Edinburgh, during the period 1945-1947.
THE GENERAL DANCED AT DAWN is a work of wry humor, inasmuch as Lt. MacNeill describes the unintentionally comic situations encountered with his Jocks (men) during garrison life both in Scotland and abroad, mostly the latter. The book is actually a series of short stories, in which a common thread tying all together, besides Dand himself, is Pvt. McAuslan, the dirtiest, most slovenly soldier in His Majesty's service. As described by MacNeill:
" ... he lurched into my office (even in his best tunic and tartan he looked like a fugitive from Culloden who had been hiding in a peat bog) ..."
McAuslan may be the focus of a particular chapter, as when he is court-martialed for refusing an order to enter a pillow fight contest to be held during a gathering of the various Highland regiments. Or, he may make nothing more than a brief cameo appearance, as when he is upbraided by MacNeill for fighting one of the crewman aboard the coastal steamer ferrying the battalion's soccer team on a road-trip against the teams of neighboring British commands - a fight brought on by the sailor's comments regarding McAuslan's unsanitary appearance.
The squalid presence of McAuslan notwithstanding, the central character of the book is Dand MacNeill, whether he's coping with the unfathomable questions of the officer selection board, pressed into command of an overnight troop train from Cairo to Jerusalem through unruly Palestine, mounting the ceremonial guard at Edinburgh Castle, or taking lessons in regimental piping history from the god-like Regimental Sergeant Major. Dand's narrative of military service is of such good humor and wit that it's evident his alter ego, Fraser, remembers his own time in uniform as an enriching life experience, despite the hardships of WWII combat. This positive slant on the book's theme, and Fraser's/MacNeill's fine sense of the ludicrous, make the volume one that I couldn't put down. (I've encountered so-called "thrillers" that were less absorbing.)
Note: THE GENERAL DANCED AT DAWN is currently out of print in the US. However, it and Fraser's two sequels in the McAuslan series, MCAUSLAN IN THE ROUGH and THE SHEIKH AND THE DUSTBIN, are all contained in THE COMPLETE MCAUSLAN, available from the UK. This is a superb volume, worth to an Anglophile every pence spent in postage to deliver it across The Pond to The Colonies.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful humour with authentic military flavour, 21 Jun. 2000
MacDonald Fraser has a marvellous knack of depicting the army way of life in a way which is funny, and at times moving. We have seen this time and again in the Flashman books. Here the period changes, the details change but the essentials remain as good as ever. Compulsive reading once started, his characters are spot on, the stories delightful, his skill as a storyteller unerring. Unquestionably one of the finest writers in English
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 14 Aug. 2010
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If you've ever had any kind of relationship with the military then this is for you. A superb observation of the collective military mind in an era when anything was possible if you had the chutzpa to carry it off. Witty and irreverant. Always entertaining. I loved this book when I first read it some thirty years ago and it still makes me laugh out loud even now.
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5.0 out of 5 stars compulsive re-reading, 27 Jun. 2012
By 
J. Hood (Cheshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: General Danced at Dawn (Paperback)
Written with wit and feeling, sometimes touching but never sentimental, this brilliant fiction doubtless has its genesis in the author's own army experiences, or those of people he encountered. The book is a collection of self-contained short stories set at the end of the Second World War, mostly in far flung parts of the world where the British writ still ran. The narrator writes as a young subalturn in a Highland regiment - cue bagpipes, awe-inspiring RSMs,high traditions - and a whole crowd of characters inadvertantly hell bent on ruining the regiment's fine name. Chief among them is Private McAuslan, dirty and generally hopeless. But this is not a cruel book. Through his narrator Fraser gives us an almost affectionate portrayal of McAuslan, culminating in the final story in which McAuslan is courtmartialled for his reaction to an officer's order to take part in the pillow fight because he is dirty. Through the humour you feel for the man's dignity.
My favourite of the stories is that which gives the book its title. A crusty general comes to inspect the batallion on the eve of the colonel's retirement. Everything needs to go well, but everything falls apart.Can anything impress the general? The result will have you in silent - if not audible - laughter.
No need to comment on Fraser's prose - it is always full of colour and movement, vividly capturing character and action, no word ever wasted. Just take for example:.'..all I remember is a heaving, rambling crowd, like a mixture of Latin Carnival and Scarlett's uphill charge at Balaclava, surging pondorously to the sound of the pipes; but I distinctly recall one set in which the General, the pipe-sergeant, and what looked like a genuine Senussi in a burnous swept by roaring "One, two, three," and I know, too, that at one point I personally was part of a human chain in which my immediate partners were the Fusiliers' cook-sergeant and an Italian café proprietor from down the road.'
Buy it, read it, and re-read it whenever you need cheering up. You don't need military experience, nor Scottish blood, nor male chromosomes to enjoy it. And read the other books in the series.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Amusing set of anecdotes, but lacking wider story arc, 8 Feb. 2015
This review is from: The General Danced at Dawn (Kindle Edition)
The General Danced at Dawn is the first book in a set of three semi-fictional memoirs of Lieutenant Dand McNeill, based on the first-hand experiences of George Macdonald Fraser. The book has a weak overall story arc, consisting of a set of anecdotes about various incidents, as McNeill makes his way from Burma, via the Middle East, to Edinburgh. Told in a light-hearted fashion, each of the stories has a humorous tone, being more amusing than laugh-out loud, as McNeill blunders through various scrapes and japes with an odd assortment of characters that populate his regiment and those they encounter. Fraser uses the same memoir technique to much better effect with the Flashman series, where the overall story arc and hook is much stronger both in relation to the main character and historical framing. Overall, an amusing set of anecdotes, but little more.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This book is a riot., 19 Jan. 2000
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ken@cv-uk.com (Taunton, Somerset, England) - See all my reviews
If you have ever been in the Forces you would appreciate the humour, lamenting a young Officers first command. Take your pick from the characters the Drunk or perhaps the Dirtiest Solider in the world. From football to Court-martial's the book is a riot.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a book i have reread all my life, 17 Jun. 2010
This review is from: General Danced at Dawn (Paperback)
deeply moving yet at times so funny, the'Monsoon Selection Board' is my all time favourite short story
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 9 July 2014
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This review is from: The General Danced at Dawn (Kindle Edition)
a very amusing read
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5.0 out of 5 stars Funniest book !!!, 19 April 2014
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This review is from: The General Danced at Dawn (Kindle Edition)
I read this years ago and couldn't stop laughing.

Being a Scot, the descriptions of the characters and use of the vernacular was easy to understand - our American/Canadian friends will have to ask for translations at times !!!

Although it's never named, it's clearly obvious which famous Highland regiment (now sadly absorbed into an amalgamation) is involved.

The defence case reference the court martial of the central "villain" of the book is classic military logic.

Well worth a read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I would like to have met George McDonald Fraser, 6 Dec. 2013
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This review is from: The General Danced at Dawn (Kindle Edition)
I have read this a few times over the years and still enjoy the atmosphere and spectacle of a highland regiment that it portrays. It's just a pity it's so short!
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