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Born and educated in England, Lavinia Greacen lives in a whitewashed house in the Dublin mountains, and her widely-praised biographies have a blend of Irish and English influences. As well as Chink, her subjects include the Booker winner J.G. Farrell, author of Troubles, The Siege of Krishnapur, and The Singapore Grip.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Chink does not fit in any box that I can think of – military tactician, bohemian, friends of churchman the Archbishop of Dublin and intellectuals Hemingway, Joyce and Gertrude Stein, to name but a few, he first achieved distinction at Sandhurst, received the Military Cross in WW1 and was a key strategist in the planning of the Battle of Alamein in WW2 – for which, until now, with Lavinia Greacen’s thorough and thoroughly engrossing biography, he has never received full acknowledgement.
Rather than fitting in a box, Irish-born Brigadier Eric Dorman-Smith, known by one and all by the idiosyncratic nickname Chink, was the jack-in-the-box who popped up at weekend house parties, balls, French cafés, gatherings of writers and painters – Picasso, John Dos Passos – and was known for his charm, intelligence, wit and fiery personality. Chink was provocative, complex, multi-sided like a crystal ball turning above a dance floor and Lavinia Greacen has brought to light every chink in her subject’s brilliant life.
It was a meeting with Chink’s son, Christopher, that awakened the author’s interest in her subject. Her edited account of Chink’s correspondence with Hemingway was published in the Irish times in 1984 and the five years of research and writing that followed produced this well-written and absorbing biography of a difficult but fascinating man. The author sympathetically uncovers the privileged but difficult Irish childhood that induced the flaws in Chink’s character and his subsequent inability to become the great war hero he hoped to be. One of the most enjoyable sections of the book relates Chink's close friendship Hemingway and his wife, Hadley, and his place in the Paris scene of the 1920s. Chink rose to prominence as Auchinleck’s second in command during the Desert Campaign of world war two and promised much, but his often prickly temperament led to his unpopularity with many of this peers. Auchinleck wrote that he owed Chink a great deal, adding that he was tragically mistreated and betrayed in the end . . . but he never gave in. As another reviewer has observed, this biography rescues Chink from undeserved obscurity and Lavinia Greacen has done so with aplomb.
It is so refreshing to read a totally new subject within military history about a figure who played a pivotal role in two world wars and has yet been in the shadows of history, especially the shadow of Montgomery. Chink - the nickname for Major-General Eric Dorman-Smith (a great name in itself) - served with distinction in WW1 and received a Military Cross. His career in WW2 was equally impressive as a military commander / leader in North Africa (1942). Fascinating too are his friendships with literary characters of his day, such as Ernest Hemmingway and James Joyce. Other figures appear too: Lord Beaverbrook and Picasso. Chink was a truly remarkable figure who deserves this biography. Fascinating and compelling.
Lavinia Graecen's account of the contradictory character of 'Chink' is wonderfully compelling. His original mind was wasted by jealous, conservative and less able senior Army officers. His uncompromising pride isolated him and prevented him from the recognition he deserved for his role in a pivotal moment in WW2. The outsider who broke the rules was himself broken. The story has many surprises and ends in tragedy. There's as much literature as warfare. Chink's youthful friendship with Hemingway adds a vivid extra dimension to the military story. Chink was a man of honour who lacked fidelity in his relationships with women. The clarity of Lavinia Graecen's writing disentangles the multiple strands of Chink's life. Her book is an absorbing and detailed corrective to the hagiographies of lesser men.
A biography of an extraordinary man who was marginalised by the military establishment, left un mentioned in many military histories but has been sympathetically resurrected by Greacen. I liked this book very much as it gave a genuinely new slant on some well-known situations and characters
A friend recommended this book to me and I wasn't disappointed. I'm interested in military history and found the story of 'Chink' and his war service, particularly the people he met, truly enthralling. The author has some really excellent and interesting insights in Chink's mind and the military/ WW2 mindset in general. I found this book hard to put down. Fascinating stuff.
This gives a different picture of the British senior commanders and relationship with Churchill in World War 2. A must for anyone interested in the functionality of the senior officer corps in India, Middle East and Europe. before, during and after World War 2
An interesting and thoroughly fascinating read about a brilliant Military Officer of World War 1 & 2 with his hang ups, experiences, friends from both ends of the spectrum, and his eventual resentful retirement. An intriguing account of a misfit soldier rising to the rank of General.