54 of 63 people found the following review helpful
Not really a war memoir,
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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.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 4 Nov 2013 07:39:05 GMT
Amazon Customer says:
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.
In reply to an earlier post on 9 Nov 2013 19:08:29 GMT
Posted on 23 Nov 2013 09:09:26 GMT
Jonathan Ryan says:
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
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
So that everyone who could refute his claims were dead !
In reply to an earlier post on 12 Dec 2014 19:52:29 GMT
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 !
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