Monty: His Part in My Victory

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This is the third book in Spike Milligan’s war memoirs (volume 1; volume 2). Combat has now died down in Africa, and no one is ready to be shipped to a new field of combat yet. The troops are therefore getting bored. Suddenly the establishment recalls that Milligan can play the trumpet and the band reforms. Most of this book is spent being shuffled between army staging areas, and performing music. Regardless of little “happening”, still an engaging read.

Monty: His Part in My Victory
The War -- And Peace -- Memoirs
Spike Milligan
Non-fiction

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Rommel? Gunner Who?

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At the end of the previous Spike Milligan war memoir, Spike and his comrades had just been packed up into a ship to start travelling to Africa to engage the Nazis. This book picks up straight from there are follows them from first arrival in Africa to their first experiences of combat. Spike fought in the Battle of Longstop Hill, where his artillery unit played a part in victory. Along the way Spike loses his first close friend to enemy fire.

Spike has an amazing talent for taking a tough subject and making it interesting and light hearted. Its not disrespectful, but shows that there were moments of levity in difficult times. Much like the previous book this one was very readable and I enjoyed it.

"Rommel?" "Gunner Who?" Book Cover "Rommel?" "Gunner Who?"
The War -- And Peace -- Memoirs
Spike Milligan
Authors, English
Penguin UK
2012
208

'Keep talking, Milligan. I think I can get you out on Mental Grounds.''That's how I got in, sir.''Didn't we all.' The second volume of Spike Milligan's legendary recollections of life as a gunner in World War Two sees our hero into battle in North Africa - eventually. First, there is important preparation to be done: extensive periods of loitering ('We had been standing by vehicles for an hour and nothing had happened, but it happened frequently'), psychological toughening ('If a man dies when you hang him, keep hanging him until he gets used to it') and living dangerously ('no underwear!'). At last the battle for Tunis is upon them . . .

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Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall

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This is another book I read as a teenager and decided to re-read. Frankly, its great. Confused teenager signs up for the British Army (or is conscripted, its not totally clear) and ends up as an artillery gunner. Has hilarious adventures while managing to still be a scrawny nerd. I loved it. A light hearted look at a difficult topic.

Adolf Hitler: My Part in his Downfall
The War -- And Peace -- Memoirs
Spike Milligan

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Halo: The Flood

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The reviews online for this book aren’t great, and frankly they’re right. The plot is predictable, and there isn’t much character development. Just lots and lots of blow-by-blow combat. It gets wearing after a while, and I found this book at bit of a slog. Not recommended.

The Flood Book Cover The Flood
Fiction
Del Rey
2003
341

Fleeing the destruction of the planet Reach, the Master Chief and a few human survivors crash-land on Halo, where they race to unravel its secrets in order to gain control of a great source of power before the alien occupiers do.

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The Chronicles of Old Guy

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I found this e-book on Amazon while randomly poking around and read it on a recent set of flights. It was of interest because if looked like another bolo tank book, of which I have read many over the years. That said, its not in strictly the same universe as the other bolo books, and seems more like unofficial fan fiction than something which maps into the universe seamlessly.

The book is competently written and readable. However, it regularly strays into what I would consider fantasy fiction (medieval warfare, vampires, battling Godzilla) in a way I found jarring and annoying. Overall I don’t think I’ll read the other books in this series.

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Halo: The Fall of Reach

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As someone who doesn’t play computer games and has never played a Halo game, I find myself in the strange position of having read a Halo book. This book is the first in the chronological lineage, and explains the history of the Spartan program which produced the Master Chief. I decided to read this after accidentally watching a Halo mini-movie on Netflix with a sick baby, and deciding it wasn’t totally terrible.

The book is actually ok to my surprise. Its competently written, and on par with much of the other combat fiction I’ve read. It certainly doesn’t feel like its a tie in to a game. I would have liked this book to cover more of the moral issues around the back story to the Spartan program, but those were only briefly considered. Then again, I like a good shoot ’em up as much as the next guy and perhaps that would have been too boring. Overall I enjoyed it and think I might have to read more in this universe.

Halo: The Fall of Reach Book Cover Halo: The Fall of Reach
Eric Nylund
Fiction
St. Martin's Press
June 28, 2011
448

Before the Human-Covenant War engulfed Halo, the planet-colony Reach came under attack by the Covenant, and Earth's specially trained and augmented warriors, code-named SPARTANs, stood alone to fight for humanity's survival.

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The Crossroad

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Written by a Victoria Cross recipient, this is the true story of a messed up kid who made something of himself. Mark’s dad died of cancer when he was young, and his mum was murdered. Mark then went through a period of being a burden on society, breaking windows for fun and generally being a pain in the butt. But then one day he decided to join the army…

This book is very well written, and super readable. I enjoyed it a lot, and I think its an important lesson about how troubled teenagers are sometimes that way because of pain in their past, and can often still end up being a valued contributor to society. I have been recommending this book to pretty much everyone I meet since I started reading it.

The Crossroad Book Cover The Crossroad
Mark Donaldson
Afghan War, 2001-
Macmillan
August 1, 2014
432

On 2 September 2008, in eastern Afghanistan, Trooper Mark Donaldson made a split-second decision that would change his life. His display of extraordinary courage saw him awarded the Victoria Cross for Australia, making him the first Australian to receive our highest award for bravery since 1969. Yet Mark's journey to those crucial moments was almost as exceptional as the acts that led to his VC. He was rebellious even before the death of his father in his mid-teens. A few years later, his mother disappeared, presumed murdered. Mark's lifestyle could have easily led him further down the path of self-destructiveness and petty crime. But he took a different road: the army. It proved to be his salvation. He found himself a natural soldier, progressing to the SAS, the peak of the Australian military.'One of the most impressive memoirs published by a serving member of the Australian military'WEEKEND AUSTRALIAN 'This is not some public relations puff piece, this is a heartfelt work by a substantial man' HERALD SUN'A mature and generous account, revealing of himself and Australia's longest war, still poorly understood at home' Chris Masters, SYDNEY MORNING HERALD'The transformation from zero to hero that Donaldson describes... is testament to what can be achieved through sheer determination' WEEKEND AUSTRALIAN

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The End of All Things

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I don’t read as much as I should these days, but one author I always make time for is John Scalzi. This is the next book in the Old Man’s War universe, and it continues from where The Human Division ended on a cliff hanger. So, let’s get that out of the way — ending a book on a cliff hanger is a dick move and John is a bad bad man. Then again I really enjoyed The Human Division, so I will probably forgive him.

I don’t think this book is as good as The Human Division, but its a solid book. I enjoyed reading it and it wasn’t a chore like some books this far into a universe can be (I’m looking at you, Asimov share cropped books). The conclusion to the story arc is sensible, and not something I would have predicted, so overall I’m going to put this book on my mental list of the very many non-terrible Scalzi books.

The End of All Things Book Cover The End of All Things
John Scalzi
Human-alien encounters
Pan Macmillan
August 13, 2015
378

Our fate is in their hands. . . The Colonial Union's Defence Force was formed to save humanity when aggressive alien species targeted our worlds. Now Lieutenant Harry Wilson has an urgent new mission, as a hostile universe becomes ever more dangerous. He must investigate a sinister group, which lurks in the darkness of space playing different factions against one another. They'll target both humans and aliens, and their motives are unfathomable.The Defence Force itself is weakening as its soldiers fall - without recruits to replace them. Relations with Earth have broken down and it will send no more troops, even as human colonies become increasingly vulnerable to alien attack.Lieutenant Wilson and Colonial Union diplomats must race to keep the peace, seek reconciliation with an enraged Earth, and maintain humanity's unity at all costs. If they don't, it will mean oblivion, extinction and the end of all things.

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Ancillary Justice

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I loved this book. The way the language works takes a little while to work out, but then blends into the background. The ideas here are new and interesting and I look forward to other work of Ann’s. Very impressed with this book.

Ancillary Justice Book Cover Ancillary Justice
Ann Leckie
Fiction
Orbit Books
2013
386

The record-breaking debut novel that won every major science fiction award in 2014, Ancillary Justice is the story of a warship trapped in a human body and her search for revenge. Ann Leckie is the first author to win the Arthur C. Clarke, the Nebula and the Hugo Award for Best Novel in the same year. They made me kill thousands, but I only have one target now. The Radch are conquerors to be feared - resist and they'll turn you into a 'corpse soldier' - one of an army of dead prisoners animated by a warship's AI mind. Whole planets are conquered by their own people. The colossal warship called The Justice of Toren has been destroyed - but one ship-possessed soldier has escaped the devastation. Used to controlling thousands of hands, thousands of mouths, The Justice now has only two hands, and one mouth with which to tell her tale. But one fragile, human body might just be enough to take revenge against those who destroyed her. 'ENGAGING AND PROVOCATIVE' SFX Magazine 'UNEXPECTED, COMPELLING AND VERY COOL' John Scalzi 'HIGHLY RECOMMENDED' Independent on Sunday 'MIND-BLOWING' io9.com 'THRILLING, MOVING AND AWE-INSPIRING' Guardian 'UTTER PERFECTION' The Book Smugglers 'ASTOUNDINGLY ASSURED AND GRACEFUL' Strange Horizons 'ESTABLISHES LECKIE AS AN HEIR TO BANKS' Elizabeth Bear

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The Human Division

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I originally read this as a series of short stories released on the kindle, but the paperback collation of those has been out for a while and deserved a read. These stories are classic Scalzi, and read well. If you like the Old Man’s War universe you will like this book. The chapters of the book are free standing because of how they were originally written, and that makes the book a bit disjointed. The cliff hanger at the end is also pretty annoying given the next book hasn’t been released.

So, an interesting experiment that perhaps isn’t perfect, but is well worth the read.

The Human Division Book Cover The Human Division
John Scalzi
Fiction
Tor Science Fiction
February 25, 2014
512

Following the events of The Last Colony, John Scalzi tells the story of the fight to maintain the unity of the human race. The people of Earth now know that the human Colonial Union has kept them ignorant of the dangerous universe around them. For generations the CU had defended humanity against hostile aliens, deliberately keeping Earth an ignorant backwater and a source of military recruits. Now the CU's secrets are known to all. Other alien races have come on the scene and formed a new alliance—an alliance against the Colonial Union. And they've invited the people of Earth to join them. For a shaken and betrayed Earth, the choice isn't obvious or easy. Against such possibilities, managing the survival of the Colonial Union won't be easy, either. It will take diplomatic finesse, political cunning...and a brilliant "B Team," centered on the resourceful Lieutenant Harry Wilson, that can be deployed to deal with the unpredictable and unexpected things the universe throws at you when you're struggling to preserve the unity of the human race. Being published online from January to April 2013 as a three-month digital serial, The Human Division will appear as a full-length novel of the Old Man's War universe, plus—for the first time in print—the first tale of Lieutenant Harry Wilson, and a coda that wasn't part of the digital serialization.

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