31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Reclaiming Colonel Toosey's place in history,
This review is from: The Colonel of Tamarkan: Philip Toosey and the Bridge on the River Kwai (Hardcover)
Julie Summers has written an exceptional biography about her grandfather Philip Toosey. It is well-researched, brilliantly written and has social insights that go far beyond most military biographies. She also puts in quirky details that add colour and interest.
Though spanning her grandfather's whole life, it is his experiences as a PoW that make it so compelling. We see how he treated his men and tried to protect them, how he was able to command them so well because he was not a career soldier and therefore could think outside the box. He had a great sense of humour, but was firmly based in reality, understanding the needs of his men after the war, for example, when he asked for a load of condoms to be delivered.
What I particularly like about the biography is that Ms Summers uses her privileged position as his grand-daughter to show, rather than hide, the family side of Colonel Toosey - warts and all. We see, for example, the marital difficulties he had with his wife post-war. Summers found when researching that theirs was not an isolated incident. How refreshing to highlight such points when the social cost is often hidden under a stiff upper lip.
As the World War II slips further into the past, I hope that this book gets a wide readership. Ms Summers' fresh, simple style makes real a world that today, sadly, seems almost fictional. It also rescues her grandfather from the perception that he was somehow like Colonel Nicholson in The Bridge on the River Kwai. He was a much bigger hero than that.