War by Roald Dahl
|War by Roald Dahl|
|Category: Short Stories|
|Reviewer: Luke Marlowe|
|Summary: Dahl's wartime experiences are described in vivid, thrilling details - combined with some of his War related short stories - skillful, shocking tales that make this a truly wonderful collection.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 336||Date: August 2017|
|External links: Author's website|
In war, are we at our heroic best or our cowardly worst? Featuring the autobiographical stories from Roald Dahl's time as a fighter pilot in the Second World War as well as seven other tales of conflict and strife, Dahl reveals the human side of our most inhumane activity.
Most of us know of Roald Dahl as a fantastic author - and the image of him in my mind's eye is as a twinkly old man, closely resembling the eponymous character from the BFG. What is far less known about Dahl though, is that he was a hugely intelligent man who achieved rather incredible things in his life - ranging from co-writing the fantastic Chitty Chitty Bang Bang through to co-inventing the Wade-Dahl Till Valve, - a solution for hyrdocephalus that was used on over 3,000 children around the world. Most relevant to this volume though, was the fact that he served as a fighter pilot, diplomat and intelligence officer during and shortly after the Second World War. As a result, his writing on the subject is emotive, exciting, and serves as some of the best descriptions of air warfare I've ever read. Here Penguin have combined his war recollections with seven short stories on the subject of war - a fantastic collection heightened by wonderful cover design by artist Charming Baker.
The first two-thirds of the book are taken up by Going Solo - Dahl's war time tales that were initially published back in 1986. As a child I devoured Dahl's fictional works swiftly, and was desperate for more of his writing. Finding his autobiographical works, Boy and Going Solo I was delighted - and was swept away by his tales of life and adventure from the Welsh countryside through to sky above Greece. Reading Going Solo again, I found myself just as transported - it's a remarkable adventure full of derring do that has stood the test of time brilliantly well. The dashing young Dahl finds himself in all manner of scrapes, but survives with spirt and a great sense of humour. Following on from Going Solo, a series of short stories has Dahl using his experiences to fuel a collection that range from the black humour through to the truly macabre - but all immesely readable. A Piece of Cake was Dahl's first paid work as a writer - and the moment that Dahl realised that writing was the career for him. The Soldier is a story full of black humour but also a rather sad situation - reminiscent of the sorts of tales that one can view on the television in Black Mirror, and Yesterday Was Beautiful draws directly from Dahl's experiences in Greece, and is a rather mysterious snapshot of life during the war.
A wonderful collection by one of our finest authors, War is a collection that has been beautifully drawn together by Penguin, and forms part of a really wonderful series that they've released - a fitting tribute to Dahl and his incredibly body of work. Many thanks to the publishers for the copy.
For further reading I recommend Of Lions and Unicorns: A Lifetime of Tales from the Master Storyteller by Michael Morpurgo. Whilst aimed more at children, Murporgo deals with war (amongst other subjects) with a maturity and directness that doesn't talk down to children - emotive and exciting. It is worth saying that many of the stories are extracts from Murpurgo's larger works - but for me they read well as brief snapshots among the other tales. War can often happen after Trickery.
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You can read more book reviews or buy War by Roald Dahl at Amazon.com.
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