Story of a young Scots officer pondering what he wants out of life, set against the sometimes brutal background of the Malayan communist insurgency. This novel fully reflects the rich variety of themes provided by the subject matter- even a hint of the supernatural without which no story set in Malaysia would be complete. Lachlan Gunn is not a broad brush writer. Everything is presented in meticulous detail, which is how he creates an intensely realistic atmosphere (although the dialogue is modern). Even my old school gets a mention! In his new career path with the Gurkhas, Alick can look forward to plenty of action in the jungles of Borneo and I look forward to reading about them...
I chose this book because I had spent two years living in Brunei and had had the opportunity of travelling around Malaysia and loved the experience.
Lachlan Gunn has written this story beautifully. I was a bit slow in getting into the plot but once I did I was totally captivated. I imagined myself in the jungle getting nowhere fast. Again, something I have done. The way the author describes the noise , the heat and the leeches, and the cat and mouse situations of the hunters and hunted.
This is such a moving story which plays with your emotions, and highlights the sadness in the loss of life for a belief.
My heart bled for Alick and what he went through, his PTSD, his struggle with his emotions, and his personal life.
This is a beautifully written book, done with great thought and empathy. The most thought provoking book I have read this year!
....for reasons of insurance I enjoyed this book from the clever start, in which the events were cunningly foretold, to the classic ending, which was never a cliché. Straddling the date of Malayan Independence (Merdeka), the reader sees events unfold through the eyes of certain players on the ground. It is a story of humanity in inhumane circumstances. The quality of the writing in the depiction of the characters enables the reader to see all sides of the conflict sympathetically.
I bought this book because I have a personal interest in the story and the period of history as my father was killed in the conflict. He was a pilot in the RAF and his body has only recently been found. I went to Kuala Lumpur last year when there was an interment and a memorial service.
The author is related to well-known Scottish writer, the late Neil Gunn, and has clearly inherited his writing skills. I look forward to reading more from this author and do not hesitate to recommend this book to lovers of history, war stories, thrillers and romance.
A book of three parts: first, preparation for action by both sides (with just a bit too much detail in places for my taste, eg: every item of kit detailed, what order people get into and out of the helicopters, etc); second, the action itself and the immediate aftermath; third, a love story. Put like that, it does not sound like my cup of tea but they all hang together well and I really enjoyed it. Well written; good pace; good character development; good background on the communist insurgency and how it was dealt with; good descriptions of the country and weather. Looking forward to more from this author.
This is an exellent book I served in malaya during the emergency and reading this book made me relive it all again ,including the wonderfull love affair.I recomend this book to all who are interested in the emergency years.(the so called forgotten war)
I wouldnt normally be drawn to books on combat but I really enjoyed Merdeka and found it very hard to put down. It has some really interesting characters and enough intrigue to keep the pages turning. It gives you a good insight in to the mind of a soldier/fighter who has to move between the harsh world of fighting one day to the more normal day to day world another. It also makes the jungle come alive and has really peaked my interest in perhaps visiting Malaysia some day. I look forward to reading more books from this Lachlan Gunn.