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'Rommel?' 'Gunner Who?': A Confrontation in the Desert Paperback – 25 Mar 1976
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About the Author
Spike Milligan was born at Ahmednagar in India in 1918. He received his first education in a tent in the Hyderabad Sindh desert and graduated from there, through a series of Roman Catholic schools in India and England, to the Lewisham Polytechnic.
He then plunged into the world of Show Business, seduced by his first stage appearance, at the age of eight, in the nativity play of his Poona convent school. He began his career as a band musician, but has since become famous as a humorous scriptwriter and actor in both films and broadcasting. Spike received an honorary CBE in 1992.
Top customer reviews
Along the way we get to share more of Milligan's sense of humour, absurdity, horror, outrage, truly perceptive insights and simple pleasures.
This book will place you so firmly alongside him in the time and location that you will hear the rounds buzzing by you and feel the rumble of heavier stuff through your feet, such is his ability to draw the reader into his thoughts and experiences. Effortlessly you will go from rib-tickling merry making to finding yourself in mortal danger and then back again almost as soon as it began.
You will also experience the life of a soldier with all its boredom and barrackroom courseness. Milligan lets you share the feelings of loss and stupid waste when comrades are taken away into instant oblivion.
Of all war accounts I've read Milligan's is perhaps the most courageously honest and casual in style, yet captures the greater depths and ranges of human emotion and experience in relatively simple writing. Some may be surprised to find that for one who is best known for his wacky comedy, Milligan often shows the contemplative depth and honesty that would otherwise suit a philosopher.
And who is that sweet tenor he sometimes hears singing in the night?!
"Rommel ? Gunner Who ?" is the second of Spike's war memoirs, and covers January to May 1943. It opens with Spike and his colleagues stationed at X Camp in Algeria, suffering from hot days, freezing cold nights and massive boredom. The lads are very keen to get into Algiers - where they hope to visit the ladies of negotiable affection. (The average gunner is very keen on sex, though rarely gets the chance to do more than talk about it. The closest they get to any action while stationed at X Camp is drooling over the local barmaid). They finally get their wish - but, come the end of the book, they've seen more action than they might have hoped for.
The book was first published in 1974, and there's plenty of typically Spike-like gags. (There are plenty of sketches and photos in the book : I particularly liked the one captioned "Gunner Milligan showing his unflagging belief in his King and Country.") Occasionally, he'll have a little fun lampooning notable characters and playing around with stereotypes. Nothing is sacred with Spike, but neither is there any any intention of causing offence : he'll be as likely to aim a kick at a racist colleague as he is to mock Hitler. (Still, it might be worth noting that the book was set, and written, in different times. Having said that, in today's world Spike could nearly be considered downright progressive : "At sundown the Arabs turned towards Mecca to carry out their devotions, a religious people, more than I could say for our lot, the only time they knelt down was to pick up money.") A very funny book overall.
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