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Quartered Safe Out Here: A Recollection of the War in Burma [Paperback]

George MacDonald Fraser
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 2001
George MacDonald Fraser—beloved for his series of Flashman historical novels—offers an action-packed memoir of his experiences in Burma during World War II.  Fraser was only 19 when he arrived there in the war’s final year, and he offers a first-hand glimpse at the camaraderie, danger, and satisfactions of service. A substantial Epilogue, occasioned by the 50th anniversary of VJ-Day in 1995, adds poignancy to a volume that eminent military historian John Keegan described as “one of the great personal memoirs of the Second World War.”
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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"There is no doubt that it is one of the great personal memoirs of the Second World War." -- John Keegan

From the Publisher

At the age of nineteen, the author saw nerve-wracking action during the British army's struggles against the Japanese in Burma, the last great land campaign of World War II. Fraser has now added to his rattling-good common soldier's memoir a substantial new afterword occasioned by the fiftieth anniversary of VJ-Day.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
The author describes his experiences of life with the dour, no-nonsense, Cumbrian ( an area of North-west England, known for its down-to-earth approach to life ) regiment, fighting close combat against the Japanese in Burma - the forgotten army in the forgotten war. This is definitely a man's book, the disparaging humour between the men being characteristic of the British army, and better than hours of contemporary "comedy".
The descriptions of the child-like yet deadly (to the Japanese) ghurkas and charismatic Field Marshal Slim are inspirational. On one occasion a small ghurka band holds a position against wave after wave of suicidal Japanese assaults; then it's discovered they don't have a single round of ammunition between them, relying rather on their weapon of choice - the "kukri" - curved machete-like knife - leaving piles of Japanese dead all around them.
There is a hilarious portrayal of a type unique to the British army - the eccentric upper-class officer, who has no fear of danger, takes the war as something of fun, and is absolutely deadly in his effectiveness towrads the enemy.
In my opinion this is a unique, precious book - to be treasured - showing war in the raw, as it really was, with real people, right up against the battlezone. These guys just got on with the job. Buy this book. You will read it with relish, and return to it when you need an uplift. Sheer pleasure.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Foxhole View of War -- One of the Best! Jan. 26 2004
By Manray9
There are a few personal accounts of war and its impact on a man that stand out in the sea of such literature -- works such as "Goodbye to All That," "Homage to Catalonia," and "The Men I Killed." "Quartered Safe Out Here" has now joined that short list. MacDonald Fraser is the acclaimed author of the Flashman series of historical fiction, but here he reveals his own experience as an infantryman in merciless combat against the Japanese in Burma. Here is an all-too-vivid recollection of the fear, pain, discomfort and -- yes -- the pleasure of comradeship among the common soldiers who win or lose ALL wars. MacDonald Fraser reminds us that wars are not just "politics by other means," wars are about young men -- their lives, their deaths, and their friendships. As one reviewer said, MacDonald Fraser "has raised a memorial" with this book. Read it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Should have six stars at least May 26 2004
George Macdonald Fraser has written an utterly gripping and unforgettable memoir of the war in Burma, where he served with a company of men mainly from Cumberland. His comrades are vividly described so that you feel you have known them yourself, and it is a terrible shock when nearly halfway through the book one of them is killed during a bloody nighttime battle. There are richly comic passages too, like the time the section is given the job of gathering up provisions from an air drop, and return laden with stolen booty, or the time they are terrorised by a giant centipede, or the time Fraser falls down a well. Every time I read this book I find myself wishing that I had been one of those young men fighting my way through the jungle, which is completely crazy, as the closest I've ever come to combat is seperating two squabbling toddlers. By the end of the book, when Fraser leaves to become an officer, I feel as sad as if I was saying goodbye to my own friends, and I can never hear the tune "bye-bye blackbird" without substituting the Burma version "you've been out with Sun-Yat-Sen, you won't go out with him again, Shanghai bye-bye!" The most astonishing thing is that he was only nineteen when he was performing incredible acts of courage in the jungle, eventually even having to lead the section himself. An extraordinary story, told bu a superb writer. Read it and laugh. Read it and weep. Read it and wish you were there too. Oh, just read it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One Man's War Sept. 12 2002
By A. Ross
Before Fraser became well known for his "Flashman" series of comic historical novels, he was an enlisted man in the 17th Division of the 14th Indian Army during WWII. Almost 50 years later, he recounts his wartime experience in Burma from the perspective of his section of about eight or so men, all from Cumbria in NW England. With his many writerly gifts, he gives a mostly unvarnished account of what he did and saw, capturing battle actions and anecdotes with sharp and often witty prose.
Fraser's account is very much a personal one, and throughout the book he rails against contemporary mores and broader political correctness concerning the war. He is quite open about how the British forces believed themselves to be superior beings compared to the Japanese they fought-and points to Japanese POW camps as a vindication of this. Similarly, he reports the campfire discussions after his unit saw newsreels from liberated concentration camps, in which all agreed that Germany needed to be razed to the ground. Fraser himself provides an emphatic defense of the use of nuclear bombs on Japan. And in his defense, it is true that the latest scholarship on the subject is in agreement that Japan was not on the brink of surrender at the time.
Beyond these larger issues, the memoir is perhaps at its best when telling the smaller stories. The character of his Cumbrian comrades, the descriptions of various "native" units such as the Gurkhas, Pathans, Sikhs, and especially a hilarious description of the Army's East African drivers. There's a great bit where he falls down a well in the middle of an attack, and another great part where an uneducated Sergeant borrows his copy of Shakespeare's Henry V and definitively concludes that Shakespeare had been a soldier.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A story from the boots in the bush!
Required reading if one wants to have a feeling how the British and allied grunts of the 14th army fought, lived and survived the torture of their predicament in WW2 Burma with... Read more
Published 16 months ago by graham nielsen
4.0 out of 5 stars Quartered Safe Out Here
Geroge Machdonald Fraser wrote this 50 years after the events in WW II Burha when the Japanese were defeated on land. Read more
Published on May 29 2012 by Rural Athenian
4.0 out of 5 stars Liked it
For the last ten years I have been more or less obsessed with writing a series of Second World War novels in the period before the Americans rewrote the war in their own image. Read more
Published on April 20 2010 by Jim Burk
While Britain was ingloriously kicked out of SE Asia in 1941, their soldiers seemed to exemplify the worst effects of years of defeat and despair. Read more
Published on March 23 2004 by Rodney J. Szasz
5.0 out of 5 stars OUTSTANDING
Published on Jan. 11 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic military memoir
If you wish to understand the common British soldier in World War II, his virtues and his vices, this book is essential. Read more
Published on July 17 2003 by Catherine A. McClarey
5.0 out of 5 stars The Greatest Burma War Memoir
George MacDonald Fraser, creator of the Flashman series takes on not 19th Century history, but rather himself this time out. Read more
Published on March 9 2003 by Grant Waara
5.0 out of 5 stars GMF is one of a kind...bless him!
It's been years since I first read "Quartered Safe Out Here" by the creator of Harry Paget Flashman, VC. (And I won't rehash everything the previous reviewers have written. Read more
Published on Jan. 4 2003 by H. S. Wedekind
5.0 out of 5 stars A soldier looks at war
I got this book to read about Burma. Frankly, there is not much here distinctive to that country. Instead, I came away with an answer to something that has puzzled me for... Read more
Published on Dec 19 2002 by G. B. Talovich
4.0 out of 5 stars Superbly written, totally honest
The author of the Flashman series gives his account, from the ground level, of the campaign in Burma with his beloved Nine Section. Read more
Published on May 20 2002 by ensiform
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