Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Life is a Four Letter Word: Breaking Out v. 2 Paperback – 3 Nov 1972

3.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

See all formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price
New from Used from
"Please retry"
£90.39 £10.68
click to open popover

Special Offers and Product Promotions

Enter your mobile number below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan; New edition edition (3 Nov. 1972)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330233521
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330233521
  • Product Dimensions: 17.6 x 11.1 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,241,083 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star
See both customer reviews
Share your thoughts with other customers

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This, the second volume of the autobiography of the famous writer Monsarrat, starts in 1939 when he would have been about twenty. The book is gripping in what can be taken to be its first part, dealing with his Atlantic sea-duty as a naive sub-lieutenant (later, a less naive lieutenant and finally a rather jaded lieutenant-commander). The second part of the book features his life as British Government (Dominions Office) information officer in South Africa and is less riveting. The third part chronicles the author's life as famous novelist largely based in Canada and is (appropriately?) frankly boring. By 1970, though, Monsarrat was living in what is now North Cyprus. The 3-star vote is a composite: the first part is a 5-star effort. This split parallels his fiction, always best when at sea: The Cruel Sea; The Ship that Died of Shame.

Although at first a pacifist and in (later in charge of) a Central London paramedic centre, Monsarrat joins the R.N.V.R. and serves mainly on corvettes, little anti-submarine warships. This experience of course later came out in fiction as The Cruel Sea. The squalor and horror of it all is well drawn, as is the contrast with the boring squalor of WW2 Britain, not only short of almost everything which makes life worth living but also having to put up with "spivs" (Jewish black market traders) as well as people who set themselves up with or without official sanction as prim guardians of everyone else's adherence to the mass of imposed and incredibly complicated regulations. Monsarrat also notes the idle, unionized labour in the repair docks, getting ten times the pay of a naval rating. He marries, making him more aware of food rationing etc. He (naive again) idolizes Churchill and by 1941 supports the war.
Read more ›
Comment 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"The Cruel Sea" has been a favourite book for me for decades. Its author Nicholas Monsarrat, born in my home city, officer in the same Navy as I was, and (as I now know after reading the two volumes of his autobiography) with many experiences parallel to my own, wrote a cracking book, in two parts, about himself. There is wry humour and there is cold, wet sea-time in the midst of war; affluence in South Africa, and all-but-penniless existence in dank rooms in pre-war England. These books are well written indeed, with a flair for language that is not often encountered. His views are sometimes strange to the modern eye because they were penned before the era of political correctness. But all through my reading I had in my mind the picture of the duffel-coated, bearded Naval officer on the bridge of his corvette in the North Atlantic, and I found myself wishing I had known him then.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Look for similar items by category