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Ill Met By Moonlight Paperback – January 4, 2011

4.3 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

With this title Burford launches its new "Classics of War" line. Moss here tells the remarkable story of how he and a fellow British commando infiltrated a Nazi stronghold in Crete, kidnapped a German general, and spirited him back to Egypt. Though based on fact, this could rival any best-selling espionage novel.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

W. Stanley Moss: W. Stanley Moss was a war hero and best-selling author in the 1950s. He traveled extensively, notably to Antarctica with a British Antarctic Expedition. Eventually he settled in Kingston, Jamaica, and died aged 44.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 212 pages
  • Publisher: Paul Dry Books; Reprint edition (January 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1589880668
  • ISBN-13: 978-1589880665
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #102,454 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
W. Stanley Moss's World War II memoir, ILL MET BY MOONLIGHT is an exciting, thoughtful and surprisingly beautiful book. Most of it is taken directly from Moss's diary during a campaign in which he, Patrick Leigh-Fermor (Paddy) and a small band of Cretans kidnap the Nazi General Kreipe and abduct him to British-occupied Egypt. A great deal of the book tells of hiding in caves and slogging up and down mountains. But what made this story especially interesting for me was the character of the men involved. Moss and Leigh-Fermor are extraordinary young men who speak several languages fluently (Paddy passes as a German among Germans). They are athletic and have strategic and intellectual minds. But Moss basically comes across as unexpectedly humble and rather sweet. Here's a short passage from Moss's diary written on the morning of the day of the abduction. He and his comrades have just spent the night in a cave.

"Paddy and I spent the morning reading short stories aloud to each other-this because we have only one book left between the two of us. Stevenson's Markheim, King Arthur and the Green Knight, Saki's wonderful The Interlopers...it was all rather fun. Then Paddy recited snippets from Shakespeare in German, at which he is adept; and we talked of mythology and lore and wondered if General Kreipe would look anything like Erich von Stroheim. Minotaurs, bull-men, nymphs of Ariadne, kings of Minos, and German generals-a splendid cocktail!"

They are civilized men engaged in that most uncivilized act of all. There is violence in this book. Then there's the terrible (and uncommented upon) knowledge that the blow on the head that Moss gave to the General's chauffeur during the abduction later caused his death. Moss is not unaware of this.
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Format: Paperback
This book is a really fun read. It's all a bit mysterious, but it tells a classic tale of the British upper class at war. It's kind of a cross between "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Guns of Navarone", but with a lot less violence. Exactly what organization the author works for, and what context it all takes place in is lacking. But the chase across Crete and the author's insights into the locals kept me glued to my chair reading until I had read from front to back. See also the 1957 movie of the same name with Dirk Bogarde. For another book in the same vein find a copy of F.S. Chapman's "The Jungle is Neutral". Another WW2 "way behind the lines" story, this time in Malaya.
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Format: Paperback
'Courage, mes braves!' We've travelled this road before. But if there are any new recruits in the ranks, let me reassure them from the outset that once the title's been tackled (a clumsy Shakespearean reference), we're over the worst of it. Because the rest of this book is a rollicking read from start to finish, dealing as it does with the true story of the kidnap during WWII of the German General Kreipe by a group of Cretan partisans under the leadership of two British commandos, William Stanley Moss, our narrator, and Patrick Leigh-Fermor - widely believed to be the blueprint upon which Ian Fleming based his James Bond character.

ILL MET BY MOONLIGHT is better known as a film in which the young Dirk Bogarde defeats the Wehrmacht with a withering glance that predated Roger Moore's raised eyebrow by twenty years or more. By way of contrast, though, W. Stanley Moss and Paddy Leigh-Fermor are tough as old boots and utterly fearless. But even so, they leave us with the distinct impression that they bring to their particular field of irregular martial endeavour the benefits of a liberal education - which makes a very refreshing change from reading about SAS hooligans, the sum total of whose emotions might be tattooed in their entirety (all eight letters of them!) on the knuckles of each hand. Similarly, there is in MOONLIGHT a sort of bubbly undercurrent which suggests that, though these two young men are at present totally immersed in WWII, this is not what they are really and truly about. What they really want to be doing is getting on with their lives and doing whatever it is that young men want to be doing. (Nowadays they'd be taking a year out and bumming around Oz perhaps.
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Format: Paperback
Stanley Moss must have been an interesting man. He obviously was an erudite individual, in that he was able to write this marvelous book, in spite of not being an author or anything like that. He was instead a soldier, a wartime one who had an office job before the war, but left to try and kill Germans, and win the war for the Allies. This book covers his account of his attempt (with one other British officer and a band of local partisans) to capture the commander of a German division in Crete, and spirit him back to Egypt via torpedo boat.
The book is very British. There's a marvelous sense of the British civilian upper class at war, bunglingly incompetent but amazingly brave, and very good-hearted. The bungling is strange in that the author clearly was an effective soldier (an afterward by Moss's partner, Leigh-Fermor, in my addition tells how Moss led a partisan detachment that killed 75 or so Germans several months after the events in the book) but he manages to convey that he's not very good at this war stuff. In one scene, he lets one of the Partisans examine his submachinegun ,and is then nervous because "I never know which buttons on these things to push" and sweats until the gun is given back to him. There's marvelous banter, slang, and nicknames (one of the Cretan partisans is called "Wallace Beery" because of his supposed resemblance to that actor) and even the torpedo boat captain is colorful, as he should be.
I was impressed with this book. The plot moves right along, doesn't get bogged down with too many details, doesn't try to portray what was done in a particularly brave or skilful way, just tells you the results, I would recommend it highly.
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