Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Package and a Review

For tonight a change of tack.

I arrived home today to find a package in the mail from the US. Christy Pinheiro of The Publishing Maven promised me a review copy of her book The Step-by-Step Guide to Self-Publishing for Profit! It arrived today.

Thanks Christy!

Now I have been threatening to post my first review for some time. I’ve completed a review of Troop Leader by Bill Bellamy, so here it is

Troop Leader opens with Bellamy’s transition from school into the army. As a junior officer he was posted briefly to North Africa with his regiment (the King’s Royal Irish Hussars) before being withdrawn to England to prepare for D-Day. Although trained as a tank commander he was put in command of a squadron supply unit, eventually landing in Normandy on D+3.

With heavy casualties in the regiment Bellamy was soon reassigned to command a troop (equivalent to a platoon in the American army) of Cromwell tanks. He led the troop with distinction throughout most of the balance of the European campaign. Finally, he was placed in command of the reconnaissance troop of the Regiment’s Headquarters Squadron (Company).

Bellamy’s account closes with the end of the war in Europe, the Victory Parade in Berlin and the beginning of the occupation of Germany.

Overall I liked Bellamy’s account of his involvement in the war. It is a very fresh account partly because he drew heavily on notes and diaries he kept (against regulations) at the time. One of the real strengths of the narrative is how he conveys his youthful approach to the war and command. He was only 21 at the conclusion of hostilities and despite the life changing effect of the horrors he witnessed, he still had a young person’s sense of immortality.

Ironically this youthful approach is probably also one of the weaknesses of the book. His treatment of the emotional impact of the war is quite shallow. I feel Bellamy could have had a greater force had he included more on how he subsequently thought about the events in which he participated.

As a writer interested in the technical aspects of the war, I found Bellamy’s account a bit light. Also I think he made a couple of minor technical errors, for example “remembering” the use of an IR night sight that was not in use during the war. I suspect he has inadvertently combined memories from the war with his post-war military service.

On the up side, he did provide some useful insights into tactical approaches. In particular some information on “digging in” tanks and setting up positions for night defence were most interesting.

On balance I would recommend this book as a good read for those interested in military history, even at the vastly inflated Aussie sticker price (AUD$32.99).

Now finally, because I can't help myself, a piccie of a typical Aussie country town main street.
This is Braidwood in the Southern Highlands of NSW.

3 comments:

Terra said...

thanks for the review, this is not the type of book I would typically pick up, however it does sound interesting and I plan to see if I can load it to my kindle for 'future' reading.

Amanda said...

That sounds interesting! It reminds me of an old history class I had where they told us that as sources, first person accounts are not always reliable. I find that so interesting that these young people were given such huge responsibilities back then during the war.

Christy Pinheiro, EA ABA said...

Welcome to the dark side of book reviewing, Al! You're welcome for the book. I hope you enjoy it. If you decide you want to post reviews on a regular basis, let me know and I'll add you to the blogroll on www.stepbystepselfpublishing.net. You'll start getting free books-- but you'll have to review them!