This excellent and gripping book is a must buy for anyone serious about understanding the Second World War and its aftermath, as well as for anyone serious about cracking good reads. On almost every page there is a fascinating fact - not least legendary British actor Anthony Quayle's involvement in SOE - and they are all woven into a skillful whole that will by the end give the reader a new perspective on Europe and the perils of messing about in other people's countries. By turns breathtaking, funny, tragic and sometimes horrifying, the book is an indictment of the human spirit and what it is capable of: courage, determination, betrayal and dreadful violence. The best kind of modern history writing.
Roderick Bailey paints a detailed and extremely well researched picture of a hardly known episode of WWII when British soldiers fought with the partisans in occupied Albania. It is full of historical data based on many primary sources including declassified official documents, oral reports, diaries etc. There is not only plenty of historical insight, but a beautifully written, readable story which should appeal not only to historians, but also to the interested general reader. This book thoroughly deserves five stars.
I echo what other enthusiastic Amazon readers have written about this excellent book. It is first rate narrative history: thoroughly researched, highly detailed and with the successful sweep of epic fiction, except of course it isn't fiction. From the start of the account of the SOE in Albania you are gripped by the story which is bizarre, comic, tragic and terrifying. "The Wildest Province" is Bailey's first book based I understand on some ten years' preparatory work. As such it is a remarkable achievement.
On a personal note, I worked as a young teacher in the late 1960's with one of the characters who has a prominent role in the book. At the time I had no idea of his wartime exploits in Albania:he was a somewhat diffident, middle-aged art teacher by the time I got to know him and he never referred to the subject. Imagine my surprise when I saw his photograph in this book, a smiling, early twenty-year-old, sitting on a rock, high-powered rifle in hand!
Fascinating read, and extremely well researched and documented.Cleary shows there was no grand conspirancy within SOE ranks to favor the Communist led resistence at the expense of what passed for 'resistance' by the motley crew of mountain tribes, the Mat region, and nationalist factions.
Excellent stuff about an almost forgotten story of WW II. My father was involved so I had double interest. Compliments to the writer who is a very young historian. I wish he could have spoken to my father but it is a perfect account as it is.