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Quartered Safe Out Here: A Recollection of the War in Burma Paperback – Apr 2001

4.8 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Akadine Pr (April 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585790249
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585790241
  • Product Dimensions: 20.6 x 14.5 x 1.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 318 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,687,010 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Review

"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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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. Not that I haven't enjoyed many of the well-written American war stories, but George McDonald Fraser has an authenticity unparalleled in my experience. Authentic, yet tremendously interesting. Some of that interest grows from his application of dialect. I wish I could write half as well. Fraser also had some fun with the "Flashman" series which also carry a core of authenticity.
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Format: Paperback
How to give a clear picture without saying "evocative"? Fraser took me back to 1945. I shared the bloody-minded company of some ordinary blokes who actually helped save civilisation and I'm thankful for the experience.
Those guys are old men now. They believe they were (unwillingly) just doing their job. But thanks to Fraser, our generation can re-live their grumbling yet heroic young lives and feel truly humble. I will make sure my children read this book
ps Many, many thanks for Flashman and McAuslan aswell.
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Format: Paperback
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. The debacle of Burma and Singapore and the debilitating effects of defeat infected both the British, Indian and Commonwealth armies. After the defeats and the long road back is where George Mac Fraser comes in.
The British and Indian Armies has been integrated trained and tested in the rugged battles of Imphal and Kohima. The Black Cat Division full of men from mostly Cumbria, are ready to be tested in the long road back to Rangoon. Fraser recounts his role in the big push to capture most of Burma and then the mop-up operations with British Special Forces in the closing weeks of the war.
Fraser's autobiographical writing is characteristically wry and at times cynically humourous. At other times he evinces what one may call the "ugly" side of the racist feeling of the enemy that filled the heads of both sides in this conflict. Like a lot of authors of the same era, Japanese are "Japs" and they are a lesser form of humanity. Lesser because they kill, rape and murder and kill British POWs to a degree that the British soldier (and any normal human being) finds shocking. What happens is, in turn, a dehumanisation of the British/ Indian soldier and any notion of him being a gentlemanly warrior. Quarter is neither asked nor given. Killing Japs and more Japs becomes the end in itself. When the initial offence breaks the backs of the main line of Japanese defence, the Gurkhas hunt Japanese with their long Kukris, Indian troops kill Japanese wounded, and the British go for vengence.
At the end of the book Fraser is aware of the mentality engendered on him and his men. He makes no apologies for it.
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