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VINE VOICEon 6 September 2010
Yes, this is an interesting tale, but Moynahan's writing style leaves a lot to be desired. It's quite drab and uneven. In certain sections, he will recount in painstaking detail a certain day in Chapman's life, but then the next few months are just rushed over, where a variety of characters are abruptly dropped into the story with no form of introduction as to what they are like or what their motives may be.

Furthermore, Moynahan paints Chapman as an all-round hero and is quite fawning, but he still does not succeed in making him appear very appealing. Whilst Chapman undoubtedly was a good soldier and someone whom you would want next to you in the trenches, he comes across as too much of an earnest goody-goody boy scout-type to really feel like wanting to get to know him and his inner character. In other words, not a fun guy to go down the pub with.

Perhaps I have been spoilt somewhat as I came to this book, straight after finishing Agent Zigzag: The True Wartime Story of Eddie Chapman: Lover, Traitor, Hero, Spy, which is a fantastic tale of another Chapman in the Second World War. If the author of Zigzag, Ben Macintyre, had written Jungle Soldier, it probably would have been transformed into something much more gripping.

I wanted to like this book, but I am afraid it was quite mediocre in my opinion and Moynahan's other work is not something that I shall be seeking out.
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on 20 December 2010
Its ok. I found the first bit quite boring where he writes in intricate detail about the exploits in the North Pole and surrounding areas. Once he was in the jungle the book picked up but then again after "mad fortnight" it fell back into fairly monotonous trudging through the jungle for days weeks or months.
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on 6 April 2014
if you like to get feel for the 'reality' of conflcit and what people will do and can do this is very good read. Can be slow and dry in places but does not detract from the qulaity of the book and story
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on 22 May 2013
I think that Mr Chapman was an amazing man. The first half of the book was a great read. But after that its entirely about trudging through the jungle. Yes the jungle is a very tough place, we understand that. But please I dont need half a book describing the horrors of the jungle.
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on 22 January 2013
Personal account of 1 mans war, I read this after readying the back of the book and was very excited, the books starts off with his adventures from school to Greenland, it had some good bits to it but seemed rushed through in places. Then comes the war against the Japanese. Ok I was expecting along comes some behind the lines soldier who does to the Japanese what the Vietcong did to the Americans in vietnam. Erm.... No.

Spoiler alert.

He does hardly anything. Can honest say I felt cheated!
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on 3 July 2012
I came to this book already knowing a fair bit about Spencer Chapman's exploits, but wanted to learn something of what he did after he returned to 'normal' life. That period was 25 out of his 64 years, but gets a paltry 8 pages out of 324 in this book.

Most of the book is devoted to Spencer Chapman's travels in the Himalayas & Tibet, Greenland, and Malaya during WWII. I am always worried when, in books like this, I find rudimentary mistakes. In an incident in Greenland, Spencer Chapman and two others deduced they were close to, but north-west of, a tent they were trying to locate. Moynahan describes how the three of them spread out and then walked in a north-westerly direction!

The major part of Moynahan's book covers what is in Spencer Chapman's "The Jungle is Neutral". Apart from pointing out that in a few details what is in that book is not 100% true(!), Moynahan adds very little to the subject. He comments in places about what locations look like today, which seems totally irrelevant (but he'd obviously like us to know that he's visited them). I have just started re-reading "The Jungle is Neutral" and felt insulted by Moynahan's efforts. The maps in Moynahan's book are a straight lift (uncredited) of the originals, and the title of one of the most noteworthy chapters is the same ("The Mad Fortnight") as in Spencer Chapman's own book.

Moynahan's acknowledgement to others is scant, and there are no references. While reading his book I kept thinking that he was just re-telling what's in Spencer Chapman's own books.

Spencer Chapman was a remarkable survivor, and what he did is worth reading about, but do yourself a favour and get hold of his own books: Watkins' Last Expedition (Greenland), Memoirs of a Mountaineer (Tibet & Himalayas), and (especially) The Jungle is Neutral, which in my view read better than this biography.
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on 9 November 2015
It started off quite interesting with freddys exploring Greenland but the author just skimmed over the men who went with him. How did they get together etc? A lot of questions about this! The jungle part was better but every so often the writing style seemed to just appear like separate paragraphs written by someone else. The word He and They started a lot of sentences and too many sentences were too short and could have been joined together making the reading flow better.

I agree with a previous reviewer - I really wanted to know more about freddys life after all the jungle trauma, illness etc. And how it affected him to such a tragic death.
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on 20 April 2015
Absorbing account of jungle warfare involving a little-known hero. Particularly fascinating for anyone with knowledge of soldiering in the Malaysian Peninsula or Far East, but might be heavy going for anyone else.
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on 18 March 2014
I served in the RAF in Singapore and I completed a Jungle Survival Course in Malaya. Of course that was nothing to what Spencer Chapman experienced but it helps to fully appreciate the conditions he lived and fought in. I'm truly amazed that he lived through it. You have to visit Malaysia to really feel the overwhelming heat and humidity.
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on 30 August 2010
Although the subject is interesting this book reads more like a GCSE assignment to review the subject's own books, mainly "The jungle is neutral". A very average piece of work, if this is typical of Moynahan's work I won't be adding him to my list of preferred authors
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