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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking and readable journey in military history
I really enjoyed reading Watching War Films With My Dad. The book plays off his fascination with military history, and that for him it stems from growing up in the 70s and 80s playing with Action Man and building Airfix kits. The thing I got from it is that Al Murray is quite different from the character that we most often see him as, the Pub Landlord. Al is a much more...
Published 7 months ago by James Kemp

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Quirky and amusing, but a bit of a misfire.
I'm a fan of the real Al Murray, as we've seen in his various war documentaries, rather than the Pub Landlord figure. And, as I also suffered from relatives criticising the accuracy of war films during my youth in the early 80s, I was expecting this to be an amusing trip down memory lane.

In truth we sort of get this, and we sort of get some history lessons,...
Published 7 months ago by Mr. D. Hamilton


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking and readable journey in military history, 5 Dec 2013
By 
James Kemp (Merstham, Surrey, UK) - See all my reviews
I really enjoyed reading Watching War Films With My Dad. The book plays off his fascination with military history, and that for him it stems from growing up in the 70s and 80s playing with Action Man and building Airfix kits. The thing I got from it is that Al Murray is quite different from the character that we most often see him as, the Pub Landlord. Al is a much more witty person than the Pub Landlord, which shouldn't really be a surprise if you stop and think about it.

The book is a sort of autobiographical discourse on military history. It sort of argues against the fascination with it, cleverly taking us from his youth watching war films while his Dad points out all the inaccuracies in them (his Dad was a regular army officer, a para engineer). This part of the book is very good, and you can see what fascinated the young Al Murray and why he went on to read history at Oxford.

The journey continues to a continued adult fascination with WW2, and some examples of extraordinary exploits during that war. Both in terms of heroism and also on the cost of war in human suffering and young lives cut short. From there it is a short step to realising that as a society we've largely forgotten how horrible war is. You'd think that with the reminders we get on the news that we'd have it in the forefront of our minds, but instead we seem to revel in the glory and spectacle. Museums have more on uniforms, flags and vehicles, and less on the lives of the people that went to war, especially the many that failed to return.

Even as someone keen on military history I understand this position, and to a great extent I share it, as much as I share many of the cultural influences Al mentions in the book (I had action men, built airfix models and have watched all of the movies he references).

You can read this without being steeped in military history, it is very easy to read, and all the chapters are self-explanatory. In places there are little footnotes, which explain where it is necessary (and in a few cases where it isn't). The style is of a monologue, and it is generally fairly light, although towards the end it gets a little more serious.

My copy came to me from a goodreads giveaway, but it is something I would have bought anyway even if it hadn't. I certainly recommend it if you have ever watched a war movie with someone that provided a commentary on its wrongness (possibly including me, I've been that armchair critic)!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sparkling and passionate writing - and great entertainment, 12 Feb 2014
By 
A Common Reader "Committed to reading" (Sussex, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
With his new book Watching War Films With My Dad, (October 2013), the real Al Murray fascinates with a series of essays, travelogues and biographical pieces largely based around the theme of the Second World War. I was expecting to find this book amusing, but was taken aback by the sheer depth of knowledge Al Murray has on modern history and the extent to which he produces new thinking on some well-trodden historical events (his section on the battle for Arnhem Bridge, subject of the film A Bridge Too Far is particularly good). I was very impressed and will probably go over many of the passages again, particularly when I next visit Normandy, the scene of the D-Day landings.

Not that the whole book is serious in intent – far from it. While Al’s theme is loosely based around the topic of war films, the book often digresses in to random essays which he wrote often while on the road, in moments snatched while waiting in hotel rooms to go off to a performance. I particularly enjoyed his chapter on making Airfix kits, a boyhood hobby which I shared with Al, spending many happy hours painting and assembling plastic model aeroplanes (the secret was to paint most of the pieces first but few people had the patience to do this, preferring to stick all the bits together then mess it all up with botched paint job).

As well as the war and Airfix kits we read about what it’s like to go on stage at the O2 Arena (apparently the massive screens and the vast audience make it not unlike appearing on television). We read of Al’s love of paint-balling which he has indulged in many locations while on tour. In another essay we read of the three “H”s of history: Herodotus, Holinshed (author of the first printed history book, The Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland, 1577), and Christopher Hill, the 20th century of Marxist historian.

Back to the book – the chapter on the battle for Arnhem Bridge is excellent. Al spent many hours in the National Archive reading war diaries of people who took part in the ill-fated attempt to capture this key bridge near the German border in Holland. Al states his conclusions with bitter humour and with a scathing attack on the way it was done, bearing in mind the stories of individual heroism expressed in the war diaries.

As far as I’m concerned I found this to be a sparkling and passionate book I certainly hope that Al returns to historical topics again before too long.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting and funny book, 4 Nov 2013
By 
E. W. Sharman (Ilford UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
As a writer Al murray has a very friendly style he shows his knowledge well with out being flashy like myself he is the child of a certain period. I laughed out loud at some of the book and smiled a lot at the rest just the one error on his part the ref to the film Battle of the bulge song sung by the Germans to Robert Shaw should have been the Panzerlied not the Horst Wessel but hey he should be used to corrections from us Geeks.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good., 14 Dec 2013
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This review is from: Watching War Films With My Dad (Kindle Edition)
At times personal family memoir, at my times rumination on History as a discipline and at times analysis of Operation Market Garden it does ramble but always in an engaging, humane and charming way. Murray impresses as a thoughtful and, not surprisingly, amusing guide to events, their recollection, presentation and meaning as the generations of his family form a thread from the Second World War to the present. Many of his memories I thought were my own and I am left wondering how many of us were taken to see A Bridge Too Far by fathers who served in the post-war Airborne Forces!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fact Packed Thought Provoking Fun., 13 Dec 2013
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Worth it for '90s Tory bad boy' Alan Clarke being dubbed a 'grimly louche chancer'. History graduate from a military family Murray is an entertaining and illuminating host throughout. If you are obsessed with exactly what tanks or airplanes look like this will be indispensable. I'm not but there is plenty of psychological insight into stiff upper lip chaps like Monty and distilled wisdom from very wide reading into various wars, their genesis, chaotic cock ups, how the verdict of history changes and much more. The chapter on benefits of war informed me MDMA was invented by Merck for battlefield surgery - like many people I thought it had been intended as an appetite suppressant.

Fever Pitch for military buffs. packed with useful info, (if you fancy an amusing FACT HUNT! Look no further.)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read, 30 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Watching War Films With My Dad (Kindle Edition)
It's just like having a conversation. One sided I admit but nonetheless very enjoyable. Took a short while to understand the style but once understood I just sat back and let it flow.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Quirky and amusing, but a bit of a misfire., 20 Dec 2013
By 
Mr. D. Hamilton "Duncan Hamilton" (Hove, East Sussex) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Watching War Films With My Dad (Kindle Edition)
I'm a fan of the real Al Murray, as we've seen in his various war documentaries, rather than the Pub Landlord figure. And, as I also suffered from relatives criticising the accuracy of war films during my youth in the early 80s, I was expecting this to be an amusing trip down memory lane.

In truth we sort of get this, and we sort of get some history lessons, and some interesting/thought provoking Pub Landlord-esque views on things like Operation Market Garden, and how it was portrayed in A Bridge Too Far.

The main reason I've marked this down to three stars is that the book skips between these three things intermittently, never really concluding much, and ultimately ending quite abruptly. Overall I got the impression it was either very heavily edited, or simply rushed out in time for Christmas without any editing at all.

Also, it should be said that given how short and incomplete it is, it is rather expensive on the Kindle.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars watching war films with my dad, 3 Dec 2013
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bought this book for my dad for his birthday, he loves it, reminds him of when i was a child as we used to watch war films together and this book brings back alot of memories, brilliant.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable read., 15 Dec 2013
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The book, of course by Al Murray, and NOT the Pub Landlord, is a really well crafted book, giving recollections of his childhood, which is both surprising and funny, part biography and part History, and giving Al's personal view on that History. The text gives an initial impression of a relaxed ramble, but look further, and you can appreciate how well its been composed. The anecdotes, ranging from events during School holidays, Airfix kits and Action Man, through his student life, discussing toilet role and war reporting, up to the present where his children watch war films....with THEIR Dad, bearing in mind the books title, you feel you've been taken full circle, which again, seems intentional.
If you enjoyed Murray's 'Road To Berlin' TV series, you'll surely enjoy this. If you simply want a comfortable, humorous read that feels worth while....buy it, you will not be disappointed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 14 July 2014
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Great read
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