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Quartered Safe Out Here: A Harrowing Tale of…
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Quartered Safe Out Here: A Harrowing Tale of World War II (1993)

by George MacDonald Fraser

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4231935,847 (4.28)26
  1. 30
    Defeat Into Victory: Battling Japan in Burma and India, 1942-1945 by William Slim (chrisharpe)
    chrisharpe: George MacDonald Fraser praises Slim very highly, and for the commanding officer's perspective on GMF's soldier's eye view, you can't do better than Slim's self-effacing memoir.
  2. 20
    Goodbye, Darkness: A Memoir of the Pacific War by William Manchester (superdubey)
  3. 00
    With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa by E. B. Sledge (chrisharpe)
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This book immediately grabbed my attention by introducing itself, quite lucidly, with a discussion of personal memory and its notoriously complex relationship with facts. Long ago, I had been schooled on the difference of recalling a "normal" event and that of reliving a "significant emotional experience" and how much more vivid, though not necessarily more broadly encompassing it may be. The author sets the stage candidly for where he is coming from and then launches into a memoir of his experience in the armed forces fighting the Japanese in Burma during World War II. While the setting is clearly different, I found myself frequently thinking of my experiencing Robert Lewis Stevenson's Treasure Island, so many decades ago. This was a real adventure, and it brought back the feeling I had so very long ago reading my first fictional adventure. The author's style brings the reader right along with him through each setting. The reader becomes part embedded reporter and part individual hearing someone tell a story in a relaxed gathering of friends. The story shifts gear often with healthy doses of humor and suspense, never flagging in its ability to maintain interest. An extra bonus comes with the author relating his war experiences to veterans of the first Iraq War which had occurred just before he wrote the book. It was rather remarkable how much of what he had to say applied every bit as well today. I certainly can see people reading this book or not based purely on it being a book about war, but I think those that bypass it will miss the insight that relates so keenly to how humans have everyday life experiences. ( )
  larryerick | Apr 26, 2018 |
military memoir of World War II written by the author of The Flashman Papers series of novels. describes in graphic and memorable detail Fraser's experiences as a 19-year-old private in The Border Regiment fighting with the British 14th Army against the Imperial Japanese Army during the latter stages of the Burma Campaign in late 1944 and 1945.[1] This included his participation in the Battle of Meiktila and Mandalay and the Battle of Pokoku and Irrawaddy River operations.
The military historian Sir John Keegan wrote: "There is no doubt that it is one of the great personal memoirs of the Second World War."[2] The book has also been praised by the English author Melvyn Bragg and the American playwright David Mamet.[3]
The book's title is a quotation from Rudyard Kipling's 1890 poem "Gunga Din"[4] and is ironic since Fraser certainly was not "quartered safe out here" while serving in Burma during one of the final campaigns of the war.
Fraser notes that he is offering a soldier's view of the Burma campaign rather than the already well-told officer's view.
a devoted fan of the Flashman books, I think other devotees will also enjoy the book. Fraser's trademark dexterous use of the language employed by his Cumberland 'marras' (mates) brings the characters vividly to life. He introduces the reader to topics little known but of historical importance (aside from the Burma campaign itself there is the battle of Imphal and Kohima that stopped the 1944 Japanese invasion of India). The writing is crisp and a joy to read. In addition to Fussell's Wartime, I would also suggest that the reader try E.B. Sledge's memoir With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa. Readers may also enjoy Fraser's lesser known works of historical fiction based on his later WW II experiences in the Middle East, The Complete McAuslan: All the Hilarious McAuslan Stories in One Volume.
  MasseyLibrary | Mar 26, 2018 |
Author's memoirs of serving in Burma in World War II. He tells of his experiences on the front lines, some harrowing. Conversations among the soldiers are recounted in the Northern England dialect of most of his unit. ( )
  NoTalentHack | Nov 19, 2016 |
GMF is an entertainer, and these are a lively set of war memoirs. The final year of the XIV Army campaign in Burma is our larger framework, and I got the clear and informative story that I was looking for. Well worth the read, and remember that these were the author's salad days, whose loss he regrets. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Dec 11, 2013 |
I don't know why George MacDonald Fraser waited until 2007 to publish his memoir of his experiences as a young British soldier in Burma toward the end of World War II, "Quartered Safe Out Here." He was probably much too busy writing his Flashman novels and other books. But if the passage of more than half a century made his memory a bit foggy about some of the details, it did give him the advantage of perspective, and many of the best passages in the book were made possible by the perspective of an old man in the 21st century looking back at what it was like being a soldier in the 1940s.

There is, for example, his commentary on what British soldiers were fighting for and what they weren't fighting for: "They did not fight for a Britain that would be dishonestly railroaded into Europe against the people's will; they did not fight for a Britain where successive governments, by their weakness and folly, would encourage crime and violence on an unprecedented scale ...

"No, that is not what they fought for - but being realists they accept what they cannot alter, and reserve their protests for the noise pollution of modern music in their pubs."

Later he writes about the morality of dropping A-bombs on two Japanese cities to end the war, a question, he says, that never occurred to soldiers in the field. He considers the possibility that he could have been one of the many Allied soldiers who would certainly have been killed if those bombs hadn't been dropped and the fact that, in that case, his children and grandchildren would never have been born. "And that," he writes, "I'm afraid, is where all discussion of pros and cons evaporates and becomes meaningless, because for those nine lives I would pull the plug on the whole Japanese nation and never even blink. And so, I dare suggest, would you. And if you wouldn't you may be nearer to the divine than I am but you sure as hell aren't fit to be parents or grandparents."

In truth, Fraser really didn't see that much action in the war. The major battles happened elsewhere. Yet his memoir, due to his writing skill and a lifetime of thinking about those events, make it excellent reading. ( )
1 vote hardlyhardy | Nov 5, 2012 |
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Epigraph
You may talk o' gin and beer
When you're quartered safe out here,
An' you're sent to penny fights an' Aldershot it,
But when it comes to slaughter
You will do your work on water
An' you'll lick the bloomin' boots of 'im that's got it.

Rudyard Kiping, Gunga Din
Dedication
For Jack, Andrew, Harry, and Tom, some day, the tale of a grandfather
First words
It is satisfying, and at the same time slightly eerie, to read in an official military history of an action in which you took part, even as a very minor and bewildered participant.
Quotations
Wrap up all my care and woe,
Here I go, swinging low, Bye-Bye Shanghai. Wont somebody wait for me, Please get in a state for me, Bye-bye Shanghai.Up before the colonel in the morning. He gave me a rocket and a warning:

"You've been out with Sun Yat Sen, You won't go out with him again!"

Shaghai! Bye-bye.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0002726874, Paperback)

George MacDonald Fraser's recollection of the war in Burma.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:51 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

George MacDonald Fraser?beloved for his series of Flashman historical novels?offers an action-packed memoir of his experiences in Burma during World War II. Fraser was only 19 when he arrived there in the war's final year, and he offers a first-hand glimpse at the camaraderie, danger, and satisfactions of service. A substantial Epilogue, occasioned by the 50th anniversary of VJ-Day in 1995, adds poignancy to a volume that eminent military historian John Keegan described as one of the great personal memoirs of the Second World War.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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Skyhorse Publishing

2 editions of this book were published by Skyhorse Publishing.

Editions: 1602391904, 1629142034

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