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Reviews Written by
Wayne Cooper "Canoneer" (North Canada)

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Sabotage & Subversion: Stories from the Files of the Soe and Oss
Sabotage & Subversion: Stories from the Files of the Soe and Oss
by Ian Dear
Edition: Hardcover
14 used & new from CDN$ 7.49

5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent starting piont for SOE/OSS wartime operations., July 27 2013
This review is for the hardcover edition measuring 9 1/2 X 6 1/4 having 224 pages and 16 photo pages.
Largely written from the British point of view this book provides a nice general overview of SOE/OSS operations throughout the many theatres of war.
Starting with the formation and general training of agents we see how skills were honed as problems arose.
Quite a few of the major campaigns are dealt with, many very well known, such as the Harling mission and the Jedburgs in France.
Although understandably not the complete story this book however is very skillfully written and provides enough information for the casual reader of the many operations of the SOE in Europe,Southeast Asia and Australia.
Mr. Dear has provided just enough information to whet your appetite for more and has kindly included a worthwhile bibliography of source material.
All in all a good introduction to the wartime efforts of the SOE and their American counterpart, the OSS.
P.S. A more 'graphic' dust jacket would have gone a long way in increasing sales without compromising the work by Mr Dear.

Fighter Pilot
Fighter Pilot
by Paul Richey
Edition: Hardcover
16 used & new from CDN$ 21.24

5.0 out of 5 stars Probably the most accurate and readable fighter pilor story of WW2, July 27 2013
This review is from: Fighter Pilot (Hardcover)
This review is for the hardcover edition measuring 9 1/2 X 6 1/4 having 176 pages and 32 photo pages.
This is, in my opinion one of the best accounts of a fighter pilot during the second world war.
Within it are the personal touches of the atypical 'Hollywood' pilot with all the carousing and frivolity we are led to believe was part of their lives when not in the air.
The air-to-air combat descriptions are frighteningly real and the author had a gift of making words bring the action to life.
Alongside their French compatriots Richey and his fellow RAF pilots faces German planes and German pilots, often with superior machines and greater numbers but this is no Biggles...flying bravely into vast numbers of enemy fighters.
Richey, as well as many of his fellow pilots had learned a valuable lesson in the 'phoney' war prior to run away and lve to fight another day.
If you are a lover of fighter pilot stories...particularly British then this is a MUST-READ.
Highly recommended

Free to Fight Again: RAF Escapes and Evasions, 1940-45
Free to Fight Again: RAF Escapes and Evasions, 1940-45
by Alan W. Cooper
Edition: Hardcover
8 used & new from CDN$ 13.14

5.0 out of 5 stars Surely the FINEST collection of personal escape stories in print., July 16 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is for the hardcover edition measuring 9 1/2 X 6 1/4 having 399 pages and 32 photo pages.
Just the number of photos makes this an outstanding collection.
As usual the Amazon book description was written by someone who was not an escape story lover and most decidedly had not read the book.
This volume is CHOCK full of some of the most riveting escape I have ever read....and I have read nearly all of the better escape stories from WW's 1 and 2.
What is particularly exciting about this collection is that the vast majority of the stories are, to my knowledge, unpublished elsewhere, or at least in mainstream published works.
Each and every story is a genuine true adventure and many have some follow-up regarding the ultimate destiny of the participants and/or the medal(s) and awards they received.
For the lover of wartime escape stories these short adventures, many AS TOLD by the soldiers themselves are the cream of the cream and demonstrate the incredible courage and strength of character they showed in time of need.
VERY HIGHLY recommended.

Knightsbridge: The Robbery of the Century
Knightsbridge: The Robbery of the Century
by Valerio Viccei
Edition: Hardcover
5 used & new from CDN$ 9.01

2.0 out of 5 stars How dumb art thee....let me count the ways., June 15 2013
This review is for the hardcover edition measuring 9 1/2 X 6 1/4 having 237 pages and 16 photo pages...nearly ALL of the obviously vain Viccei.
If you're interested in the meticulous planning and execution of a major robbery and an insight into the psyche of the criminal gang involved this book will be of no use to you at all.
In summary 150 pages are the womanizing ramblings of this self-proclaimed Lothario and his criminal career so extensive that he himself says he spent so much time in prison before the age of 25 that he can't even remember them all.
A further 25 pages are devoted to his wretched and amateurish planning.....50 pages to the laughable execution of the plan and a scant 5 pages being caught.
Apparently 3 people in the world say he is a criminal genius....some unknown named Kim Sengupta of Today, Mr. Viccei himself and a Mr Bozo the Clown of Ringling Brothers/Barnum & Bailey Circus.
The 'Plan' , for lack of a more appropriate name was flawed from the start.
Here are just a few of the HUNDREDS of dumb things he did.
He didn't want to hire a pro thief to steal a correct armored car so he hired one that stole a White Renault truck. Unfortunately it wouldn't fit in the garage they had hired to drive it in so they could unload the they did it outside in full view of the whole world.
In perhaps a Hollywood move inspired by either Pelham, One..Two...Three or maybe Reservoir Dogs who called each other names like Mr Blond and Mr Green, Viccei decided to buy walkie talkies and call each other # 1....2...3 and so on. The problem was nobody trained with the number and he was the only one that remembered his number and answered the walkie.
However....the SUPREME clunker of all was hiring AMATEURS as his criminal assistants. Most likely done so he ( the criminal mastermind) could grab the biggest share of the loot.
Now if I wanted to fake myself as a 'master' chef and pull off a Super-Supper I would steer clear of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck and perhaps opt for Gordon Ramsey....but maybe that's just me.
By the way....his 'INSIDE' man in the vault centre was a coke-head minor official whose girlfriend also slept with Viccei and the bank official and he spent so much time together that other bank staff could hardly have failed to notice his TOO-FREQUENT visits to the bank.
If you want to read a COMEDY about a wannabee robbery....this is definitely the one for you but serious crime buffs will only be amused by the arrogance of this really AMATEUR criminal who hits the spotlight in the same way Dustin Hoffman did in Dog Day Afternoon.Pretty sad.

Luck of the Devil: Flying Swordfish in World War Two
Luck of the Devil: Flying Swordfish in World War Two
by Robert Le Page
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 44.57
15 used & new from CDN$ 10.84

2.0 out of 5 stars Lack of any photos makes a slow book even slower., June 14 2013
This review is for the hardcover edition measuring 9 1/2 X 6 1/4 having 192 pages and ABSOLUTELY NO PHOTOS.
I have written to the publisher, Pen & Sword regarding this omission but so far have had only an acknowledgment of receipt of my letter. I will update this review after they reply.


For now however I must deduct 1 star for a book which repeatedly refers to specific photos...even by number, yet contains NONE!
Written about 60 years after the facts by an 80 + year old man and revised by his son some years later this book is obviously suspect in certain areas.
Due, perhaps to the increased interest in WW 2 'diary' type accounts, this previously privately printed and distributed book was found good enough for public consumption.
The story itself is quite interesting although the role of mine laying flying from the then very small converted aircraft carriers is less glamorous than functional.
Sadly not a lot of action is recounted in this book and while what is there is lovingly presented unfortunately the Swordfish, severely underpowered and under-gunned was not the most spectacular of fighting machines and the theatre of war the author was in didn't afford the most opportunity for translated to reading material in any case.
I greatly admire the men that did these dangerous and thankless tasks....risking their lives and health for us but nonetheless that doesn't make it a better book to read.
Recommended to Swordfish fans.

Jack London: A Biography
Jack London: A Biography
by Daniel Dyer
Edition: Hardcover
17 used & new from CDN$ 2.84

5.0 out of 5 stars To understand the work.....first you must understand the man., June 14 2013
This review is for the hardcover edition measuring 9 1/2 X 6 1/4 having 228 pages and numerous photos scattered throughout the book.
I would be remiss if I failed to mention how HIGH the quality of this book is.
From the sturdy binding to the high gloss hard white paper it is made from, Scholastic, the publisher has every reason to be proud of their product!
EVERY child born in the last 50 years would benefit from reading this book.
Mr. Dyer, through his obvious love and respect for jack London, has permitted us to suffer and bleed alongside London in his quest to become a writer.
If EVER someone was destined to be a writer and had greater problems achieving that goal I know not of them.
Rejection after rejection and STILL he persisted, true to his belief in his skill to tell a story......and what stories he tells.
Through the book we see that much.....probably even MOST of what he wrote came not from his mind.....nor from his imagination.....nor from his financial NEED, but from his LIFE.
His life experiences alone would have made...and in fact DO make great reading in this volume and we are permitted to see that through those experiences he was able to craft many unforgettable stories.
If you love his MUST read this to see where it came from.
If you haven't read his work......DO SO....NOW!

In Action with the SAS: A Soldier's Odyssey from Dunkirk to Berlin
In Action with the SAS: A Soldier's Odyssey from Dunkirk to Berlin
by Roy Close
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 47.08
16 used & new from CDN$ 21.51

4.0 out of 5 stars Very entertaining action filled memoir of SAS warfare in Europe., June 14 2013
This review is for the hardcover edition measuring 9 1/2 X 6 1/4 having 214 pages and 8 photo pages.
I was lucky enough to acquire a signed copy of this book and a personalized inscription.
The story itself follows the accepted format of starting with the author as a child and moving through his school and military training and ultimate selection into the S.A.S.
Unfortunately this takes about 1/2 of the book and it is not until page 109 that he actually moves off into enemy territory.
Serving mostly in Europe against the German land forces he carried a heavy Vickers machine gun much of the time.
Linking with the Maquis in France he had many exciting and dangerous missions...mostly behind enemy lines and vastly outnumbered and outgunned.
Working from jeeps with serious machine gun firepower mounted on them they roamed the countryside alternately avoiding the larger German groups and engaging those that they felt were beatable.
Largely done in a now famous L.R.D.G hit & run style made famous by the SAS the second half of the book is virtually non-stop action that will more than satisfy any military action fan.
This is an excellent account of one man's view of the action and is almost what I would call a page-turner.
Highly recommended.

The Man Who Would Not Die: The remarkable life of Herschel McKee
The Man Who Would Not Die: The remarkable life of Herschel McKee
by Dr. Stephen Olvey
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 41.95
13 used & new from CDN$ 7.54

4.0 out of 5 stars May not be the 'gospel' but it sure is entertaining!, June 14 2013
This review is for the hardcover edition measuring 9 1/2 X 6 1/4 having 304 pages and 16 photo pages.
While this book does live up to it's dustjacket claim about his life as a barnstormer,war hero, test pilot motor racer and scoundrel in the world of today he might more accurately be called a S.O.B.
married 3 times and unfortunately NEVER divorced he spent most of his life cheating on every woman he was with...even the cheaters.
His liasons produced a few kids and most notably a daughter from his first marriage which he saw once in 9 years and never again until shortly before his death.
While it is also true that he raced cars one has to remember that in the early days of racing there were 2 people in the car...the racer and what was called then a mechanic, whose job was little more than seeing beyond the dust of the dirt tracks and relaying to the driver what lay ahead of them. In fact his 'career' as a driver was scant and conspicuously lacking in success.
He desperately wanted to be a fighting flyer in the second world war but his age precluded that so he ended up mostly relegated to the job guessed it....a mechanic.
It's clear from the writer's style that he admired Hershel's roguish ways and the writing suffers somewhat from a Hardy Boys meet Captain Marvel style.
he tends to brush over the unattractive features of the man and pumps up the adventurous side.
He certainly did chase after adventure but as far as being 'lucky' I'm not so certain.
He crashed airplanes so many times that they ultimately grounded him and his career in cars was much the same.
True....he never QUITE killed himself but I'm not sure the moniker 'lucky' is applicable. I'd call him accident prone and persistent.
All in all an interesting read but better to take it with a grain of salt methinks!

No Title Available

5.0 out of 5 stars Rivels the best of the TRUE square-rigger stories., May 28 2013
This review is for the hardcover edition measuring 8 3/4 X 5 1/2 having 248 pages and no photos.
All I can honestly say is..........WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!
This is about one of the LAST square-rigger cargo ships running cargo across the this case from Seattle to Capetown.
If you are familiar with the work of Herman Melville....Two Years Before the Mast...or the many works of Joseph Conrad, you will be ABSOLUTELY enchanted with this book.
Told by a 'rookie' sailor, fresh out of university in 1920, this TRUE story is his rite of passage.....his coming of age as a young man.
Fortunate enough to have both the opportunity to sail on a REAL working square-rigger AND to be savvy enough to recognize that such an opportunity would be most worthwhile for him he joins the Rosemond as a cabin boy and sets out on his adventure with a school chum.
Shorthanded from the start, they sail with only 10 'men' and in the following months they face icebergs, whales, typhoons and doldrums, and all with a half-crazy first mate, a cantankerous captain and some of the most unwilling and incompetent crew one could imagine.
Made all the more readable because it is true this book is a serious rival to those of Alan Villiers, whose works I greatly admire.
Truly I feel blessed to have secured a copy of this incredible book.

He Who Dares: Recollections of Service in the SAS, SBS, and MI5
He Who Dares: Recollections of Service in the SAS, SBS, and MI5
by David Sutherland
Edition: Hardcover
10 used & new from CDN$ 17.60

4.0 out of 5 stars An exciting and enlightening addition to most SAS/SBS libraries., May 28 2013
This review is for the hardcover edition measuring 9 1/2 X 6 1/4 having 203 pages and 8 photo pages.
Despite the venom-filled review by the previous reviewer I found this book both entertaining and revealing about SAS and SBS operations.
The author ultimately commanded the SBS and participated in MANY missions in the Aegean theatre.
His involvement gives us both a ground-level view of the operations as well as an insight into much of the behind-the-scenes moves.
Clearly he was a valuable member of the team and was specifically selected by his predecessor to take command of the unit.
For those wanting more information about these operations this book certainly filled many gaps in the SAS/SBS operations in this strategic area and his level of knowledge adds greatly to the book.
Although somewhat brief I nonetheless found this book very exciting and while not, perhaps, being a true page-turner, it was extremely engaging and exciting and I do not hesitate at all to recommend it very highly.

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