Customer Review

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A historical gem, 27 Oct 2011
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This review is from: Sapper Martin: The Secret Great War Diary of Jack Martin (Diary)
I've read most of the Amazon reviews on this book and they are generally highly complimentary. It seems to me that most miss the point that this is a valuable historical document, an 'illegal' war diary brought to light and skillfully edited to make a very readable novel.
Sapper Martin was an incredible man of his times. Courageous but not fearless, as he states that he sometimes got 'windy' (afraid) when working in lonely areas where he could be wounded and left undiscovered for days. His job was to keep the signal wires in working order after being blown apart by German artillery 'strafes'.
What come across strongly is his indomitable courage in the face of constant danger of sudden death. How many of us in our soft society of today would keep going for months on end with good humour, never knowing which day would be your last?
Some reviewers stated that Martin was a highly educated man. But again I think that this misses the point. Martin was an ordinarily educated man of those times. I have read WWI war letters from wives to their husbands, and vice-versa, that are both eloquent and moving, well spelt and constructed. These were from ordinary working people of the day. It would shame our current education establishment where literacy appears to be optional.
I heard a story recently read from a soldier's account of the Battle of the Somme. He states that when the whistles blew and the men emerged from their trenches to attack the German positions they stretched to left and right as far as his eyes could see. After ten paces half were gone. After twenty paces he was advancing alone. But still advancing. That to me brings Sapper Martin's courage and dedication to duty, and that of his comrades, into focus. A diary full of the mores of the time and the strength of mind of those who were bidden to fight for their country.
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