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A WELL-KNOWN EXCELLENCE: British Artillery…
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A WELL-KNOWN EXCELLENCE: British Artillery and an Artilleryman in World…

by Denis Falvey

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Recently added byLongstrider, JonSowden, Zennor

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Falvey seems to fall between two stools with this book.

On the one hand he tries to write narratives describing the causes and courses of the war and in particular the campaigns he was involved in. Other writers - generally those not so closely involved in the events themselves - have done this many times before, usually in more detail and with more balance.

On the other hand, Falvey tries to describe life within his unit. In this he is a bit more successful, but unfortunately he doesn't spend much time or ink developing this theme. This is a shame, since this is really what I bought this book for. I can read histories and analyses of campaigns anywhere, but personal recollections written by participants are much scarcer. The standard in this field, especially for artillery, has been set by George Blackburn with his 'Guns' trilogy, which concentrate almost in their entirety on his own - sometimes very personal - experiences, and the minutiae of how he carried out his various roles. Falvey seems reluctant to open up and describe his experiences, which is understandable, but the book is much the poorer for him not describing the life of his unit in more detail, and the hows and whys of various roles.

Having said that, the book is still an interesting read, and follows the fortunes of the British Army from the days of punery in 1939, the defeats of the early years, and on to the years of plenty and victory. Falveys descriptions of his time on Crete are especially interesting, and well outside the norm for that campaign. ( )
  JonSowden | Dec 20, 2011 |
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