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review 2016-08-31 05:03
The Iron Duke - My Thoughts
The Iron Duke - Meljean Brook

A rather enjoyable read, even if it was at times a tad ridiculous.

The only way I think I could have enjoyed this more is if some sections (not many) were rewritten in a less confusing manner, this includes some characters I found impossible to keep track of. The 2nd thing being the main male character was a pretty big douche, if he had been more likable I might have rated this book higher. Still kudos to Brook because in the end I was rooting for him and Mina, so I obviously started liking him somewhere throughout the book. Credit for this is mainly because Mina liked him and the chick is pretty amazing, and partly because he admired her for her intelligence and wit above everything else. So he was a complete unlikable monster. Plus I'll admit the banter between the two MC's was hilarious, without going into dimwit land, which I appreciate. I'm glad there were 2 POVs otherwise I don't think this story could have been pulled off with just one. Although I could have lived without the chapter worth of sex scene's, good on you guys for discovering your genitalia, the rest of us don't need to be as invested in it as you guys are.

Overall an entertaining read. The world, politics, bugger concerns, plus the female MC made this book. I am a little confused about what an actual Horde looks like, and at the beginning of the book I was beyond lost when referencing to buggers and Hordes but soon enough I was fascinated by the unusual world, their strange hierarchy and found myself quickly immersed within the pages.

Highly anticipating book 2!

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review 2014-08-19 10:20
Stubborn Buggers by Tim Bowden
Stubborn Buggers: The Survivors of the Infamous POW Gaol That Made Changi Look Like Heaven - Tim Bowden

17/8 - Bowden is really making the personalities of the 12 'Stubborn Buggers' shine through with his writing. The spirit of the men is amazing considering every aspect of the conditions they were being kept in - every biting, infection-causing insect imaginable; no shelter, or no sunlight; cells so small they couldn't lie flat; 'toilets' only emptied once a week; absolute solitary confinement for years.

Considering how difficult I've always found it to get my grandad to talk about his experiences during WWII (he fought with the 2/6th Field Ambulance in Bougainville and New Guinea, and later at the end of the war and afterwards in the same area with the Papuan Infantry Battalion) I'm very impressed that Bowden was able to get all these old guys to talk about their experiences so freely. It must have required a lot of courage, especially for men of their era, to discuss some of the horrible indignities they suffered. Actually, indignity is not really a strong enough word for what they went through - enemas, testicle electrocution, being so desperate to eat that they washed other prisoner's faecal matter off undigested beans and ate them while cleaning out the 'shit buckets' in the cells, being forced to stare at the sun until they suffered solar burns (what the hell?), and so much more that I could spend this whole review just listing all the different, highly imaginative methods of torture that the Kempeitai (Japanese Military Police, who ran the Outram Jail) thought up, sometimes just for fun and sometimes, supposedly, for interrogation purposes. To be continued...


18/8 - I think this is the first war biography or autobiography that I've read that has featured a soldier who wasn't described as being a hero, as not necessarily perfect. According to Lieutenant Penrod Dean's one and only friend (most other prisoners viewed Dean's actions in helping his captors with their uniform repairs, among other things, as working with the enemy, and ostracised him from any small piece of mateship they were able to share with each other) during the war and their shared captivity, Private John McGregor, Dean lied in his own book while detailing his and McGregor's experiences prior to being picked up by the Japanese soldiers. Dean claims that he made a number of raids on enemy positions using grenades that he happened to come across somewhere out there in the bush (the way Dean tells the story kind of reminds me of something out of John Marsden's fictional Tomorrow, When the War Began series). When McGregor tells the story it's far more boring and simply involves the two of them being lucky and hiding from the Japanese, until they were unlucky one day and got caught. To be continued...


19/8 - Very interesting book. I especially liked the 'where are they now' details at the end, talking about their lives after they finally made it home. I'm glad I'd already read Nevil Shute's A Place called Alice as the real man who was the inspiration for the character of Joe Harman was mentioned in that he was mates with one of the 'Stubborn Buggers' of the book. So when Bowden said that James 'Ringer' Edwards was Shute's inspiration for Joe Harman I knew who he was talking about and have since been able to look Edwards up on Wikipedia and read the true story of his crucifixion by the Japanese and his survival, despite their best efforts to have him die in agony (for the capital offence of killing some cattle to feed himself and his fellow prisoners).

I knew that a number of soldiers died (from suicide, execution, or the effects of torture) not long before the war ended, but it was still really heartbreaking to read of men who simply couldn't take it any longer and committed suicide just days before they were liberated or the unbelievable bad luck that their Japanese captors carried out their death sentences before the allies could get to them. I couldn't believe how long it took Bowden to research and write this book - 20 years - and found it quite poignant that by the time he'd finally finished, and published, only two of the men he interviewed were still alive to see their story being told. That's pretty sad and I can't understand why Bowden needed to spend so many years writing it, the book's not that long, and I'm sure that those guys who died only a few years before the book got published would've loved to see their names and stories in print.

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