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Achtung Schweinhund Paperback – Jan 30 2007


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Review

'Funny, perceptive ... Pearson has you laughing throughout with guilty recognition. You learn a lot of quirky facts and a fair bit of military history from this endearing memoir—SUNDAY TIMES

His war-obsessed childhood is so warm and funny and true you might be tempted to hug yourself with delight—SUNDAY TELEGRAPH

He has a very good line in comedy—DAILY MAIL

A funny, perceptive book about men and their ineradicable love of war ... Harry Pearson has you laughing throughout with guilty recognition—Christopher Hart, SUNDAY TIMES --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Harry Pearson is a journalist and writer who contributes regularly to the GUARDIAN, GQ and WHEN SATURDAY COMES.

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Amazon.com: 12 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
War toy nostalgia Jan. 19 2009
By James O'connell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I bought this book expecting a book about wargame rules but I was not disappointed by the entertainment value. It is a hilarious autobiography of a wargamer combined with a potted history of wargaming. The author is obviously highly knowledgeable of many kinds of literature as well as the more obscure history of toy soldier collecting individuals from as early as the sixteenth century. However, it is the tales of his childhood that make me laugh. Asking for 'trifles' when he meant rifles, abandoning a GI Joe in a barrel of water to be eaten by man-eating tadpoles were among the stories. His observations about war comics were also funny. The eccentric collectors and wargamers he met provide many laughs. One that stays in my mind is the wargamer who stored his metal armies in his attic until a regiment fell through, narrowly missing his sleeping wife. As a life long collector of toy soldiers I appreciate his enjoyment and absorption in his hobby.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Toy Soldier Story April 22 2010
By Doc Watson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mr Pearson's book is a witty and entertaining look at a decidedly niche hobby - collecting, painting and gaming tabletop battles with miniature soldiers. Along the way he touches on related topics, such as re-enactors, boardgaming and role-playing games, but at the heart this is exploration of a hobby and its often quirky practitioners, as well as a personal confession of sorts from a man who both enjoys the activity, but is also acutely aware of how it appears to those on the outside. It's this ability to see things from both sides, as the avid and meticulous army builder looking for just the right figures for a 25mm Napoleonic unit to be painted in the precise regimental colors, and the observer who recognizes many wargamers as obsessive collectors, mired in military minutiae and often a bit on the anti-social side, that makes the book interesting.

Pearson is a Brit, and at least in my impression, wargaming in the UK is mainly with miniatures, small model soldiers and vehicles, usually cast on metal or plastic and coming in a variety of scales, with 10 - 28mm figures being the most popular sizes. These are organized into units appropriate for the period and used to fight battles on the tabletop using dice, yardsticks to measure range and movement, and detailed (often very detailed) rules. Done right, with well-crafted miniature terrain and exquisitely painted figures, these battles can be quite the spectacle. But the battles themselves are just the fruition of long process of finding and purchasing the right figures and the many hours spent painting and fitting them out. For many, the meat of the hobby, is in the preparation of their armies rather than actually using them in a game, and this is well borne out in the book.

Along with anecdotes both personal and about his gaming friends and aquaintances (most of whom are more idiosyncratic and amusing than Pearson himself), the author gives a nice history of the role of toy soldiers have played in the past and the astonishing list of individuals who have collected soldiers and used them for games. Perhaps it's not surprising to find kings and statesmen here, but figures such as Robert Louis Stevenson and the Brontes (the Brontes?!) are unexpected.

In the US, wargaming takes on more of a boardgame nature, with maps and cardboard chits for units, and again often very detailed rules. Pearson touches a little on board wargames, such as popular titles like Risk, Stratego and Escape from Colditz, but the military simulation games of companies like Avalon Hill and Simulations Publications Inc from the '60s and '70s that defined wargaming for many. This is no failing on the book's part, since presumably such games were not that important in the author's experience, but it certainly renders the book less useful as a history of wargaming.

But that's not what this book is about. The subtitle tells all: this is a personal account of one boy's (and the boy lives on in the main who writes the book) experience. And by that measure, this is a fine book indeed.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Achtung, Lots of Laughs Ahead Jan. 30 2011
By Stephen Severino - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Harry Pearson has written an absolute charmer, which had me fondly reminiscing about my youth and frequently laughing out loud as I read it. Although I'm an American and this book is clearly written from a British man's perspective of his youth, there were numerous stories that I could relate to. Harry's addiction to miniature wargaming figures (toy soldiers) hilariously shines through, and his grand theme of "it's not just the toys and the games themselves, it's the friends you make along the way that really matter" successfully hits home in my opinion. What a fun read. I highly recommended this book, especially if you're a lover of toy soldiers, wargames miniatures, a modelling hobbyist, or military buff.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Fantastic nostalgia trip Feb. 2 2014
By P. Beach - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
I am not an avid reader, and yet I couldn't put this book down. I enjoyed it more than any book in recent memory. As a wargamer of a certain age, words such as Airfix, Napoleonic, GHQ, Risk, Diplomacy, Humbrol, 1/72 scale, etc., are instantly recognisable and part of my own history, loaded still with the excitement I experienced when I bought my first Ju-87 Stuka for 65 cents at the age of 11.
This book is very humorous in parts, largely autobiographical, part History of Model Soldiers, and partly I think a "coming out" of a wargamer. The history of various manufacturers in the middle of the book would bore some, but I still found it interesting, especially as you never knew when a funny comment or passage was coming.
I said to the friend who gave it to me that I would return it. He said no, it's the kind of book you pass on to someone else. I will.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A trip down memory lane . . . April 17 2008
By M. Hawash - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The worst thing about this book is that it ends!

Harry Pearson's autobiographical musings about growing up in Northern England during the 60s and 70s are hysterical and insightful. Although some of the references will be lost on American audiences, anyone who grew up in England between 1965-1980 will instantly recognize the comics, books, TV shows, toy soldiers and wargames that Pearson refers to.

The book was an absolute delight to read, particularly for those of us who lived through the 60s and 70s alongside the author. If you ever read Commando comics or Leo Kessler novels or played with Airfix toy soldiers or model airplanes, this book is a warm and wonderful trip down memory lane.


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