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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 June 2011
This is the classic war story brought to the readers of today, for some reason many readers are put off going and picking up some of the classic war stories and thrillers by great writers like Mclean and Higgins, and there has been a sad lacking in the market of new writers until recently.

James Holland brings a classic squaddie hero to the fore, and thrusts him into dark and dangerous situations and brings the war to life in all its dark gory glory, War should be a distasteful tale it should be grim and it should also be heroic and full of adventure, and these books give you all that, for some its a little too close and a little to real given that its still in living memory for so many and so many releatives, but that should not mean we lose the pride we can gain from tales, even fictional ones, because i hope they lead readers to go read the true stories.

This latest offering by Holland is great fun to read, the same paced plot, well rounded characters and well thought out plot.

well worth reading.
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on 16 December 2012
James Holland continues the military history of Sergeant Jack Tanner. This novel covers the military campaign of the B.E.F prior to the evacuation from Dunkirk. The action is fast paced and concentrates on Tanner and his colleagues as they journey and fight their way to the coast. The account is interrupted from time to time to show the opposition's tactical progress and its interaction with Tanner's group. A book that is very difficult to put down. I look forward to reading more of Jack Tanner's exploits in the future.
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on 9 October 2009
The best historical fiction is written by those few authors (such as George McDonald Fraser or Bernard Cornwell) who really know and love history. James Holland qualifies on both counts as the author of several popular and readable histories of lesser know campaigns from WW2. He's recently turned his hand to fiction with 'Sgt Jack Tanner' a character straight out of the 'commando' comics I read as a kid.

Its great 'daring do' adventure very much in the Sharpe mould. Its not 'literature' but its fun, well researched action. The plot is quite simple- a little action in England regarding black marketeers then straight to France. Tanners platoon of Yorks Rangers are rapidly cut off in the mess of the German invasion of France and he's left trying to make his way back to Dunkirk to meet up with the rest of the regt. His life is greatly complicated by an incompetent Captain and an evil company sgt major who tried to have Tanner framed and shot for a crime he didn't commit in India. Sharpe fans will agree that CSM Blackstone is very much in the Obidiah Hakeswill mould. The story mixes fact and fiction nicely and covers the British counterattack near Amiens that was only stopped by Rommels novel use of 88mm Flak guns against British tanks and the massacre of 90 men of the Norfolk regt by the 3rd SS 'Topenkopft' division. As with most historical fiction Tanner seems to be where history is made more than is entirely probable but how else is the action going to keep coming? If it has one flaw its that it ends rather abruptly with Tanner and his men very rapidly back in england with very little mention of the actual evacuation from Dunkirk

The series clearly has a few more good installments to come: Tanner makes several mentions of 'dark incidents' in his past and refers to pre-war campaigns in India and Palesting so the series has potential to go backwards in times as well as follow the course of WW2. I'm looking forward to the third installment!
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on 13 March 2016
James Holland did an excellent job, yet again! The tension in early on and in the middle was phenomenal. Of course, the rivalry between characters, along with the drama also made this book a great read.
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The return of Sergeant Jack Tanner in the second of author James Holland's Tanner series. Fresh from his exploits in Norway, Tanner is now sent to France and ends up fighting his way back to the Dunkirk beaches in the retreat of the BEF. Tanner has a lot to cope with, Nazis, incompetent officers and skulduggery within his own forces.....

Other reviewers have remarked that this is like a WW2 Richard Sharpe and the style is very much like Bernard Cornwall's, a fast moving story set within an accurate historical background. A historian that knows how to write fiction. And it is a good as the Sharpe stories, Tanner is a strong central character and Holland's story has the perfect balance of character, pace and history.

Excellent stuff.
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After an offering that just grabbed me with the original novel I had high hopes for this tale and whilst it did keep a lot of what was great with the original it did flag a little as the author hit second book blues. A prime example of this was the way that an enemy commander came to the fore only to weakly fade back when he would have suited the brief of an ideal combatant for the hero. Why?

Whilst the book is still well written that little niggle did get to me and with great combat description becoming a trademark for the author means that I hope that he picks up in subsequent outings as it would a shame for the character to just fade away after his explosive introduction.
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on 18 September 2012
The Dunkirk "campaign" makes this a bit more interesting. but I'm only on the second book, and you can practically see the deep ruts of formula reaching out in front of you.

Hopefully, I am doing the author a disservice, and I'd be delighted if future instalments prove me wrong, and things pick up a bit (not least because I've already got the later volumes ...)

Tanner and the Odin boys are slightly developed as characters, but the rest of the platoon / regiment / battalion are invisible, unidentifiable and a sort of uninvolved backdrop to Tanner and one or two Odins (usually Sykes) doing everything.

Naturally he has fallen foul of a Standard Issue Obadiah Hakeswill (who will no doubt crop up again as one of those tiresomely indestructible, no matter how often they are thwarted nemeses) and an Even More Standard Issue upper-class officer who is stupid and has it in for him. And he still has trouble expressing his anger.

After being stuffed for the umpteenth time by the rascally senior NCO and idiot / cowardly CO and being bailed out (again) by the junior officer Who Realises His Worth, Tanner is standing pale or red faced and clenching his fists (again - he always does that) in frustration at the injustice of it all. Yet without doing a thing about it... He should take a leaf out of my book, and relax more. I'm resigned to the fact that this will happen again and again, so he may as well live with it.

Honestly, if he can continually outwit the Germans without breaking a sweat, how come the cod-Hakeswill hasn't found himself on the wrong end of an accidentally pinless grenade, or at the very least, a severe kicking, yet?

Tanner always ends up discredited and mistrusted by everyone outside the Odin group (although Hepworth* must be really thick to keep taking the baddies' side All The Time). Nobody appears to notice that apparently the only soldier in the regiment who can fight, and who has made it to sergeant always appears to be in implausible hot water.

Tanner also appears to exist in a vacuum where absolutely nobody knows him or has heard of him or has any sort of idea of his profile or reputation or anything at all. While this helps the author with his instant and comprehensive discrediting gimmick, from a reader's point of view, it just looks twice as implausible.

I know he is in Europe after being in the Middle East for a while, but he appears to be the only such transplant.

The story is OK, but when you see the same stuff cropping up time after time, it does detract from it a bit.

I'm hopeful that he'll join a non-corrupt regiment at some point, but no breath is being held.

*The name may be inaccurate, but the minor characters are so faceless, I wouldn't swear to it, nor can I be bothered to check, which is a reasonable indication of how gripped I was.
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on 27 June 2011
Great stuff. Rip-roaring WW2 adventure written in a simple, relaxed style. The action keeps coming and the detail is just enough to be complementary without becoming overpowering.Jack Tanner's suitably irrascible and dismissive of petty authority, loved by his comrades and fearless without being gung ho, he's a potted portrait of the salt-of-the-earth types that Britain turned to in its hour of need.If you were weaned on Commando comics (as I was) then this is the perfect, unpretentious fare that you'll love!
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on 12 May 2013
Well, buying good second hand is actually quite cheap - and you get a book - not an electronic Kindle download which you can't do anything with - eg light a fire - pass on to charity shop, prop a wobby table would also be a good use for this book because quite honestly its alittle boring - although not as bad as a Jack Reacher book, so my suggestion is to look out for these books in charity shops and don't pay more than a quid.
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on 11 January 2012
If your looking for a challenging read with complex characters and complicated plots, then the Tanner series is probably not for you. That said if your looking for a light read which is fun and can help you get through manflu, then this book is terrific. I found this instalment an improvement on the Odin Mission; this time I could feel the surroundings instead of feeling detached. The action scenes, banter between the characters and the evil CSM were entertaining. Yes its a little predictable and formulaic, but that said its still good fun.
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