- Format: Kindle Edition
- File Size: 1130.0 KB
- Print Length: 228 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publisher: Tom Benson; 171216 edition (8 Jan. 2016)
- Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
- Language: English
- ASIN: B01ADZ4WT6
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Average Customer Review: 12 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #43,965 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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A Life of Choice: Part One Kindle Edition
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Written in the first person, the story has a very personal feel to it, enabling the reader to get to know Jim as a real flesh and blood person rather simply as a well-constructed character. The dialogue is entirely natural and the chronological way in which it’s portrayed and divided into twelve easily digestible chapters makes the story fluid and easy to read. There are many good things about being in the army as the author clearly shows but he doesn’t shy away from the negatives and hardships along the way. Another thing that impressed me was the author’s honesty in the events he portrays; he doesn’t exaggerate or sensationalise in pursuit of a more exciting or gripping story or try to give the impression that Jim is on course to be another Andy McCabe or other such well known military figure.
Although this is a fictional portrayal of Jim Falkner’s early military training and experiences, the author has drawn heavily on both his own life and those of his immediate comrades of the time, making ‘A Life of Choice’ as authentic as any entirely factual biography. I was pleased to discover when reading this that it wasn’t just another ‘pull up a sandbag’ type account relying on the legendary squaddie humour and colourful language for it entertainment but actually a thoughtful and well-written account of those times; yes those elements are present but they are not exaggerated or over-emphasised, though when they are alluded to it’s done to perfection…
“… The creases in his green denim trousers were sharper than the razor I’d used only the day before for the first time…”
“… Where I came from a steam iron was used to settle domestic disagreements...”
Anyone who has served as a regular in the army, or even one of the other services will from the beginning see familiar elements of themselves and their own experiences and might well read this like a trip down memory lane, bringing back happy and sometimes not so happy times. For others, particularly those who may have had or have friends or family who served, this book provides an honest and, true to military life, humorous insight into army training and life and just a few of the many colourful characters. Beyond that though this is also a compelling coming of age story, of the journey from boy to man, accelerated by intense military training along with all the usual landmark experiences of a young man growing up fast – being away from home for the first time, the pain of first love and its loss, learning to drive (in a land rover as opposed to the usual little bubble type cars that most people learn to drive in), and trying to fit in with his peers and all the pitfalls that entails. The heart of this story commences from 1969 through to 1971 when the army then was a very different thing to what it is today, and again, Tom Benson portrays that here to perfection. By the end of this first instalment, Jim Falkner has long since completed his basic training and is now a fully-fledged Signalman en-route to his first overseas posting to Germany. I look forward to reading of his further training and adventures…
At this stage in his army career, the first nine months of training, there is not much by way of military exercises and certainly no engagement with an enemy more deadly than the threat of alcoholism resulting from weekends of binge drinking in the pubs of an English seaside resort which also happens to be host to an army barracks.
It is the easy style of this accomplished writer that makes this book such a joy to read. He provides anecdotes around the youthful protagonist's first experience of love, and of the development of close friendships among colleagues, including older soldiers who try their level best to impart the wisdom of experience.
There are, too, accounts of bullying, and other less pleasant aspects of army life. By the end of this first part of “A Life of Choice”, the naive teenager is already maturing into a young man about to embark on his first overseas assignment, the subject of part 2, which I am looking forward to reading next.
Ok, I may be biased, as I was also Signals in the same era.
The parallels are amazing, who knew, here was another guy with the same apprehensions as another bloke.
Catterick, home of the Signals, Scarborough, home of CT troop, those DS who were in charge, always came up with something special.
Drip Bridge camp in Stirling, Probably one of the most dreary camps to be on.
I think, any signaler, reading this will look back on their time with fondness, maybe with a tear in their eye for innocence lost and every day, a new chapter opening.
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