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Gardens of Stone: My Boyhood in the French Resistance Hardcover – 14 Feb 2013

4.8 out of 5 stars 151 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 431 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton; 1st edition (14 Feb. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1444760599
  • ISBN-13: 978-1444760590
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.9 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (151 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 191,051 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

Remarkable...extraordinary. (Libby Purves, BBC Radio 4 Midweek)

A heart breaking, beautifully crafted true story of courage, loss, loneliness and the reality of what it meant to fight the Occupation. (Kate Mosse, author of CITADEL)

This is not only a remarkable coming of age story, it is also one of the finest memoirs of the war I have ever read. Stephen Grady brilliantly conveys the journey from childhood adventure to a far more sinister world where the threat of betrayal and torture lurks at every turn. At turns profoundly moving and grippingly tense, this book, like The Railway Man and First Light before it, deserves to become a classic. (James Holland, author of HELLFIRE)

An extraordinary memoir of the journey to manhood unfolding against a backdrop of terror, destruction and stark tragedy. At times charmingly whimsical, at times almost unbearably poignant, Gardens of Stone is the best book I have read about the struggle of seventy years ago - and its haunting legacy - bar none. (Colonel Tim Collins)

His heroism is of the very real kind...vividly recreates , in a simple and unadorned style, life under Nazi occupation. (Sunday Times)

Stephen Grady has made his authorial debut at the age of 87 with a book that is thrilling, honest, funny and sad. (Spectator)

British schoolboys doubtless have quite different fantasies nowadays, but for much of the last century most of them liked to imagine themselves leading their friends in guerrilla warfare against the German army. Stephen Grady is probably unique in having lived the fantasy, an experience he recalls in Gardens of Stone. Now he has made his authorial debut at the age of 87 with a book that is thrilling, honest, funny and sad. (Spectator)

This terrifying and utterly gripping account. (Daily Mail)

Book Description

An extraordinary French Resistance wartime memoir, combining the best kind of adventure story with a coming of age testimony of unforgettable resonance and poignancy.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Should anyone forget how the Germans behaved during both world wars should read this book. Thank goodness not everyone gives up.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Being privileged to know Stephen Grady,I was anxious to discover whether this book does him and his extraordinary story justice. Michael Wright has captured Steve's dry wit and penchant for hyperbole and even the grimest episodes have moments of humour and light relief that lift the narrative and show the character, intelligence and sensitivity of the man. The story rattles along and is involving from the start. Like the previous reviewer, I would have liked more about his post-War life, but this is a war story, not a biography. It's wonderful that it has been told in full while Steve is still around to enjoy the belated recognition.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
An excellent read bringing home the wonders, and failures of the human spirit. It gives an up close feel of the horrors and impact of war on those most innocent. The book and the way it is written will appeal across the board from a Boys Own adventure to those of social and war historical interest.
Mr Grady is clearly someone special and I should have liked just a bit more of the post 1947 account to round off a wonderful read. John McNeill. A 4 star read.
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I thought that the book was getting bogged down in childhood memories but the build up, the clear character (and national character) descriptions, and the detail all helped to transport one to a world that today we can barely imagine. This is a riveting story, worthy of Hollywood's attention...and it's a true story of a remarkable man. I highly recommend this book to students of history, of military history, and anyone who would enjoy a real life adventure story. I particularly found the war graves component to be very interesting.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I would recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in this part of history, and certainly if coupled with an interest in particularly rural France. I shall hopefully visit this area on a future trip.

To an extent it is like a 'boys own' story, but the reality of the terror that lies behind most of the tales is clear in the writing. Quite extraordinary how one so young was singled out for leadership, without his having any inkling at the outset of his own capabilities.

There are also some excellent examples of how less can be quite often better than more, and some humour in Stephen's clever translations between French Resistance fighters and English and American fugitives, just to maintain the entente cordiale.

Not usually a very quick reader but went through this in no time unfortunately.
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Format: Hardcover
A brilliant interesting read which keeps you captivated to the end. I couldn't put it down and highly recomemend it to any reader.A fantastic read!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book for my kindle on Monday and finished it within three days. Stephen and his generation never cease to be an inspiration. I was filled with every emotion during my journey through this book and was deeply moved by the bravery shown by so many. A fascinating read which i would recommend to anyone.
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Format: Hardcover
Gardens of Stone is an excellent read.It tells of story of Stephen Brady and his journey from naughty schoolboy to when his childhood is abruptly ended when a prank goes wrong.He learns the hard way the difference between being Jack The Lad and annoying the rural folk he's grown up with and getting on the wrong side of the Nazi War Machine.
The book is enjoyable to begin with as Stephen's "Just William type escapades show him to be a fearless and devil may care young lad.All too shortly after a short but brutal spell in prison those same characteristics lead him to success in more serious ventures and having to grow up very,very quickly.
The book is searingly honest and Stephen Grady dosn't pull any punches.He admits that his actions cost the lives of many innocent people as the Nazis carried out vicious reprisals to actions that on reflection he sees as pointless gestures.He's also scathing about the number of "heroes" that miraculously when appeared hostilities had ceased,people he knew had subserviently kept a low profile,probably sensibly it has to be said ,as the Nazis strutted around their streets suddenly had tales to tell of their supposed heroic actions.To paraphrase he comments,"suddenly everyone had been in the Resistance".
A really good book well written and I'm glad that a "forgotten hero" has lived to see his bravery recognised,as well as that of the man who inspired him.
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