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Quartered Safe Out Here: A Harrowing Tale of World War II Paperback – October 17, 2007
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"Fraser is an excellent popular historian." Time Magazine
"Quartered Safe Out Here, an account of his experiences as a soldier in the Burma Campaign, is as vivid, compassionate, and courageous a picture of small-scale fighting as any the Second World War produced." National Review
"George MacDonald Fraser writes superbly." Washington Post
From the Publisher
"A Brilliantly entertaining read, with all the narrative power, gift for dialogue and surprising twists and turns that would be expected of flashman's creator...Fraser is unrivalled at the storyteller's essential crafts..." - Gary Mead, Financial Times
"This is a book as good as anything Fraser has written...decorated with the beautifully-observed dialogue of which he is a master...A moving and penetrating contribution to the literature of the Burma campaign" - Max Hastings, Daily Telegraph
"His new book deserves to reach out to an even larger audience...The sense of front-line danger is palpable and the smell of action is remarkable. His descriptions of the sudden violent actions are breathtaking. This is battle as it is done" - Melvyn Bragg, Evening Standard
"Fraser's is quite the most vividly realistic account of the sharp end of the war in Burma that i have read...If you have enjoyed Fraser's 'Flashman' books you will enjoy the racy, pacy, utterly authentic account of far away long ago soldiering" - John Mellors, London Magazine
"A great writer has raised a memorial to a lost generation" - John Colvin --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
It's a complex book, certainly not glorifying war, but demonstrating how, as a crucible, the experience of war can shape a man. The writing has all of Fraser's well-known gifts: wit, fascinating characterizations, and wonderfully descriptive narratives of actual events. He ably explains the workings of a Section (Squad, in our army.) of British troops during the war. The reader meets his fellow soldiers, and suffers when, just as they are becoming known, they begin to be killed, either in action, or in one case through a horrible misadventure.
Also valuable is Fraser's opinion that today's U.K. is not necessarily the U.K. that he and his mates fought for. He clearly disapproves of the direction in which the U.K. has been taken. He also has a thorough dislike of the modern penchant of the media for going to great lengths to discover the feelings of soldiers who return from action in modern theatres of war. He opines that he and his mates were fortunate at the end of WW II because at that time there were no counselors. He believes, and I don't necessarily disagree, that a person's feelings are private and that people are entitled to keep them to themselves. He posits that they are indeed better off if they do.
I can't do this book justice in a review that is actually short enough to bother reading. All I know is that I'm a bit different for having read it. I also believe I now have a better understanding of my father, who fought as an infantryman at Leyte, Luzon, and Okinawa. For me, this was a very valuable read. For anyone who wishes to have a better understanding of the enlisted man's experience of combat, I highly recommend it.
“Ey, Grandarse — ‘oo d’ye spell Iredell?”
“Oo the hell dae Ah knaw? W’ee’s Iredell?”
“Liberal candidate in Carel. Ah’s writin’ yam tae see w’at ‘e’s on aboot.”
"Weel, Ah doan’t belang bloody Carel. Ah belang Peerith, an’ Ah doan’t ken w’at constituency it’s in, an’ Ah doan’t care ‘cos Ah’s nut votin’, neether.”
“Ye ought to vote, man.”
“W’at for? The Labour man doesn’t stand a fookin’ chance, an’ Ah’m boogered if Ah’ll vote Tory. Them boogers ‘es bin in ower lang.”
“Weel, vote Liberal, then.”
“Git hired! Ah doan’t knaw booger-all aboot politics, but Ah knaw the Liberal’s ca’d Roberts, an’ ‘is family’s temperance, so knackers till them. They ‘ed a cellar oot a Naworth, boorstin’ wid the best drink in the coonty, and the teetotal boogers poured the lot on’t doon drain! Think Ah’d vote for them?...”
In this wonderful memoir, Fraser works outward from his section—10 men and the smallest unit in the British army—to examine the perils and rewards of the infantryman’s life in war. Here, the perils of the Burma campaign are obvious—leeches, swarms of mosquitos, huge and bizarre insects, friendly fire, and deadly skirmishes with fanatical Japanese soldiers. But the infantry has its rewards as well, including the satisfactions of teamwork, mutual respect, shows of bravery within the section, and the banter of funny sensible men who use raillery to preserve their sanity.
When Fraser mustered in Burma, he was nineteen and not studying in a pre-med program, as his family wished, because he didn’t do well enough on his tests. Immediately, this young Fraser has hair-raising experiences protecting the perimeter of his section’s camp, encounters the fog of war as Japanese soldiers break through the camp’s barbed wire, participates in a divisional attack at Temple Wood, where he sees men from his section killed, and is amazed as his kleptomaniacal section flouts the strictures of a suspicious warrant officer. Then he experiences one final skirmish, in which Fraser, the only person that knows how to fire a bazooka, reports to an officer—sort of a mix between Kurtz and an eccentric uncle—who plans and executes a brilliant riparian ambush. It’s all superb.
In his epilogue, Fraser addresses the American use of atomic bombs to end World War II. Here, his perspective is that of the British infantryman in Burma, who expected next to attack the dug-in Japanese in Malaysia and, one day, to invade Japan. He makes a compelling case that, from this ranker’s perspective, the bombs saved the lives of Allied soldiers.
An excellent memoir and highly recommended.