Review published on July 9, 2018.
The title, Guardians of Churchill’s Secret Army: Men of the Intelligence Corps in the Special Operations Executive, which is boldly emblazoned on the front cover, coupled with a picture of a shady parachutist landing on terra firma, promised an exciting read. I heartily looked forward to reading about the secretive exploits of these people. Yet, I do not know how many times I nearly gave up reading the book. I eventually finished it, but it was like a wading through glue experience for me.
Peter Dixon, the author, a former air-force pilot, has compiled a fairly extensive dossier on some of the people that engaged in covert operations during WWII, and he should be praised indeed for his undertaken task. Also the people mentioned are to be lauded for the jobs they did during WWII. However, any dramatic, seat of the pants excitement is sadly missing. Plenty of detail about who went where to be trained and rank titles throughout that really mean little to the reader appear with a sense of randomness, which serves to simply annoy. I sound hypercritical I know, but that is my opinion after reading countless other books pertaining to the WWII debacle. There are plenty of words in the book, but little of substance to hold the book together.
The story of these brave people needed to be told, but one finds this book lacking substance dreadfully. There are a few monochrome pictures scattered throughout, but they also do not serve the reader with much. I have another much older book entitled The Maquis by George Millar. This particular book, nearly 400 pages in length, is full of detailed ‘derring-do’ true stories from the French side of the resistance, and it also features people from Special Operations as well. It reads very well indeed, so one cannot help but compare the disparity between these two books.
Maybe it was the secretiveness that does not allow the entire story to be told, who knows, but I found it an excruciatingly tedious read.
Reg Seward 2/1
Guardians of Churchill’s Secret Army by Peter Dixon
Cloudshill Press 9780993508035 pbk Jun 2018
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