Customer Review

54 of 63 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not really a war memoir, 10 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Do The Birds Still Sing In Hell? (Paperback)
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
 

Comments

Tracked by 1 customer

Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 4 Nov 2013 07:39:05 GMT
I was about to order this book but won't now based on your review. I can't stand the use of the c word in any context and would have been very upset. Also clearly not the experiences of a POW, more about his sex life.

Thank you

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Nov 2013 19:08:29 GMT
NELLY says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on 23 Nov 2013 09:09:26 GMT
Very well put .. I absolutely agree .. It seems to me that the ghost writer - a self-proclaimed 'writer of fiction' took far too many [unnecessary] liberties with the dialogue, the stereotypical 'filthy-swine' Nazi behaviour of almost all the Germans in the narrative and especially with heroic Horace's sexual prowess .. even down to the size of his erection! Maybe the 89-year old Mr Greasley wanted readers to see him in this light but I somehow doubt it.
To compare this with The Colditz Story is preposterous

In reply to an earlier post on 9 May 2014 09:55:52 BDT
Last edited by the author on 9 May 2014 09:56:39 BDT
Alexa says:
The ghost writer claims in his foreward that he invented nothing; Mr. Greasley would not permit it. I think it is unnecessarily patronising to assume that the tales of sexual escapades do not originate with Horace Greasley: some men like to boast about their sex lives (and others don't). Earlier generations were no different to ours, in this respect. By his own account, he was recounting lurid versions of his exploits to his fellow POWs for their entertainment and sexual gratification, so he may well have got into the habit of embellishing his...er... performance.

Brian Keenan An Evil Cradling by Keenan, Brian New edition (1993) tells us that his fellow prisoner, John McCarthy recounted similarly graphic sexual reminiscences to ease the strain of their captivity in Lebanon. The difference is that Keenan (or his editor) understood that one could say that a sexual anecdote was told, without including the explicit content.

So, in that sense, the book is poorly (ghost-)written.

But I am not sure that we should attribute these aspects of the book to fictionalisation, as much as to the effects of the time-delay on Mr Greasley's memory. Maybe the guards were not really all "stereotypical 'filthy-swine' Nazis'; but under undoubtedly harsh conditions of imprisonment there would be limited opportunity for him to see more admirable sides to their character, and the culture of the era would not have encouraged him to look for them. If they seem like characters from propaganda films of the era, maybe it is because those same films encouraged him to see his captors that way?

My criticisms of the book are more to do with the style - unnecessary sexual detail, putting (assumed) thoughts into the heads of the guards - than the content. (We don't have to like every aspect of someone's character in order to listen to what they have to say, after all.)

Except for one persistent, nagging, question? WHY DID HE WAIT UNTIL NOW TO PUBLISH HIS MEMOIRS?

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Dec 2014 19:50:32 GMT
Dave says:
So that everyone who could refute his claims were dead !

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Dec 2014 19:52:29 GMT
Dave says:
I think the only comparison to the Colditz story is the undertaker gag that is lifted straight out of the film and then presented in this book as an historical fact - now that really is preposterous !
‹ Previous 1 Next ›

Review Details

Item

4.2 out of 5 stars (404 customer reviews)
5 star:
 (270)
4 star:
 (55)
3 star:
 (14)
2 star:
 (24)
1 star:
 (41)
 
 
 
£7.99 £5.99
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Reviewer


Location: Manchester UK

Top Reviewer Ranking: 154,718