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I Was A Stranger Paperback – 5 Aug 1999
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General Sir John Hackett is best known as the "Tufton Bufton" of the British Army who, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, wrote a couple of bestselling Cold War Domesday scenarios, The Third World War and The Third World War: the Untold Story, in which he laid out in meticulous and, it has to be said, utterly inaccurate detail how the next global conflict would start and what course it would take. Such credentials don't exactly set the pulse racing at the prospect of his wartime memoir I Was a Stranger, but once again Pimlico have shown sound critical judgement in raiding other publishers' out-of-print backlist and reissuing them in a new format. Where Hackett's later tomes lean to the portentous, this book never strays from the personal and is all the better for it. He kicks off on page one with how he was badly wounded by a shell splinter at the Battle of Arnhem in 1944 and thereafter the book rattles along like some Boys Own story. The Dutch Resistance whisk him out of a POW hospital, hide him up for the winter and the following spring he straps a suitcase on to the back of a borrowed bicycle and rides off--via some Biggles-like narrow escapes--to freedom. Pimlico have retained an extremely old-fashioned typeface for I Was a Stranger; whether this was for economic reasons or not, it does have the curious side-effect of dragging you back to the time when it was written. The prose, too, is often clipped and formal--think Brief Encounter--and there is no chance of Hackett being mistaken for Andy McNab. But oddly enough it still comes to life. The Second World War was a different era, and their heroes were very different to ours. But their courage and bravery still shine through. I Was A Stranger may be something of a period piece, but it is one worth revisiting. --John Crace
'A classic memoir of the Second World War. ' The Economist.See all Product description
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Sir John was the nicest man you could wish to meet. I read this book as he lived in my home village when he was older and my Dad worked for him, I'm not a war book reading person, but I was very surprised (once I got over the first chapter which was hard going) and enjoyed it immensely.
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