Achtung Schweinhund Paperback – Jan 30 2007
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'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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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 in 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.
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.