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Airborne by Robert Radcliffe Review

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Airborne is a really funny book (albeit you have to look for the fun at times). It is a war book, sharing the confusion within the British forces (but we know who already won) during the second World War. We first follow a nondescript medic then to a morose character whose experiences are far too jarring and yet we get to laugh at. Read the book if you want to have some fun while watching crazy Scottsmen run to their deaths. We know they're brave but... come on.

Airborne by Robert Radcliffe
Airborne by
Series: The Airborne Trilogy #1
Date Published:
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Language: English
Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Historical, War
ISBN: 9781784973810
Format: Kindle (I got an eARC via Netgalley for an honest review)
Pages: 286


The story of the Second World War as seen through the eyes of an extraordinary young man in quite extraordinary circumstances.

17 September 1944: the Allies have launched the largest airborne offensive in history, delivering 36,000 troops by parachute and glider to the Dutch-German Border. In what will become known as the Battle of Arnhem, half of them will fall as casualties of war. Among their number is Theo Trickey, a young paratrooper so dreadfully injured he is not expected to survive.

Under the care of Medical Officer Captain Daniel Garland, Trickey is shipped to Germany as a Prisoner of War. As Garland slowly nurses him back to health, he discovers that there's much that is unusual about Trickey, starting with a chance meeting he had with Erwin Rommel before the War...

From the bestselling author of Under an English Heaven, Airborne is the first in an unforgettable trilogy that tells the story of a young soldier, of a new regiment and how, together, they altered the course of a war.

Review

Straighten your tie (if you have to wear one), smooth out your skirts (if you're the kind to wear one), puff up your chest and walk straight (when you're not crouching low but if you are, do it with dignity) because you're about to embark into a bloody battle with bloody Jerries left and right if you survive the fall down to Earth to begin with (because you're a bloody paratrooper of the 11th Parachute Battalion of the British Army).

The pacing of the book was slow at first. You have to crawl your way from Doc Daniel Garland's point of view to Theo Trickey's rather exciting narrative. The slow-going introduction is what will put off people new to war books (or thriller books centered on military stuff) from finishing this book. The author chose to do flashbacks and jumping from one perspective (Garland) to the next (Trickey) in the third-person view. I think that was good in creating a mystery and intrigue as to what actually happened to Trickey that landed him unconscious for months on a German POW camp under the care of Dr. Garland. That would translate well on the big screen if the story ever gets adapted.

I was so used to the straight-to-action approach of Steven Spielberg in his film, Saving Private Ryan that I'd doze off on war stories starting off another way whether the material's in print or in celluloid (it's bits nowadays). For the slacker-brained, I meant whether the war story's in the form of a book or a movie. My love for HBO's Band of Brothers mini series did help a lot with the imagery elicited in this book as Airborne is just the first book of a trilogy series.

For those who just began reading this book: If you're ever bored with the intro, have patience. It will get good as the story progresses. The crawl will be all worth it.

Things I find funny early in the book:
  1. One young man have one of his eyeballs lying on his cheek. The medics found the eye undamaged and still attached by the optic nerve and retinal vessels and replaced them back in the ocular cavity and bandaged him up as if nothing went amiss.
  2. A young man was shot in the balls and pled the doctors to save his sacks as he's getting married the next month. Only one was saved and the doctors assured his prospects for fatherhood.
  3. A British colonel who's a stickler of propriety and tidiness (especially when it comes to proper wearing of clothes/uniform, not to mention shaving) does not give a shit even if he's a POW addressing an enemy commanding officer. He will still tell him off for not looking tidy enough.
The humor sometimes reminds me of the confusion in Catch-22. Airborne is a really funny book with humor thrown even in the direst situation. Trickey doesn't even have the slightest humor in his bone (he feels as brooding as Jon Snow who knows nothing) but he has tons of encounters that are just so laughable.

Though her grasp of English was modest and his Italian non-existent, their rapport was at once intuitive and intimate, founded more on physical attraction and a shared love of the outdoors than meaningful conversation.

That quote above describes the lust and capitalizing story of Trickey's parents. I hope that kind of love will truly last for those individuals not affected by the humdrums and the hazards of life. In a way, both Trickey's parents were taking advantage of each other but I really love to romanticize what happened to them. Their story was what hooked me in the book. I didn't want to let go upon reaching their part. Theo's coming about in the world was captivating. His background story is very lush: from his separatist grandfather (who's proud of being South Tyrolean and doesn't want his culture/national identity to be engulfed by Italy), to the political dissent from within his close-knit clan, to him finding his identity all over Europe (with or without his commanding officer's approval).

So many things happened in this book. If the events in Catch-22 are confusing, you'll drop dead with this one. Real events shown from Band of Brothers look straightforward right next to the ones in this book. Everything is so haphazard, people have to be initiative, find alternative ways to failures (or cock-ups as they say). The only person without so much a qualm about would be the head of the whole Hitlerjugend, Erwin Rommel. His storyline will just spurt here and there but in those limited paragraphs, he's brilliantly savage AF!

Splash or crash? Do you want special ops messing about in boats? Or special ops messing in aeroplanes?

Ooh. Now I learned something new.

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