I am delighted to share my review today for Sword of Bone by Anthony Rhodes. This is one of the books that has been republished by the Imperial War Museum.
My huge thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for my spot on the Blog Tour and for arranging my copy of this book.
A reissue of Anthony Rhodes’s acclaimed 1942 novel detailing his own wartime experience during the evacuation at Dunkirk.
It is September 1939. Shortly after World War II is declared, Anthony Rhodes is sent to France, serving with the British Army. His days are filled with the minutiae and mundanities of army life—friendships, billeting, administration—as the months of the “Phoney War” quickly pass and the conflict seems a distant prospect.
It is only in the spring of 1940 that the true situation becomes clear. The men are ordered to retreat to the coast and the beaches of Dunkirk, where they face a desperate and terrifying wait for evacuation.
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This is a memoir and it is quite an easy read from the viewpoint of the author. His job in the British Army is to organise accommodation, supplies and help prepare for the rest of the troops behind him. There is a certain amount of camaraderie that comes across as he works out the logistics of getting things in place.
While he is out and organising it does appear that he is not in the thick of things, there is a certain amount of disbelief that Germany is really attacking as it is not seen first hand. In fact, they don’t get close to the enemy until further in the book and the retreat to Dunkirk is ordered.
There were times with this book that I did have to remind myself that is written and based on the authors own experiences. While it is a memoir it does read like historical fiction. This is written very much of the time and the language and style of writing have words or phrases that we would not use today. There were also a few french phrases that I didn’t understand, if I had read it on my kindle I could have checked quicker.
This is a book of the time and it does have a sort of reserve to it. There is some humour as tales are recounted. This is a book that at times I did struggle with as it didn’t hold my interest as much as I hoped it would. I did like it and I have rounded it up from 3.5 to 4 stars.
This is one for those who like memoirs set during WWII, I did enjoy it and therefore I would recommend it.
About the Author…
– Anthony Rhodes (1916 – 2004) served with the British Army in France during the
so-called ‘Phoney War’ and was evacuated from Dunkirk in May 1940. In the latter part of the war he was
sent to Canada as a camouflage officer and was invalided out of the Army in 1947 having served for 12 years.
After the conflict he enjoyed a long academic and literary career and wrote on various subjects, including the
1956 Hungarian Revolution for the Daily Telegraph and well-regarded histories of the Vatican.
About the Imperial War Museum…
IWM (Imperial War Museums) tells the story of people who have lived, fought and died in conflicts involving
Britain and the Commonwealth since the First World War.
Our unique collections, made up of the everyday and the exceptional, reveal stories of people, places, ideas
and events. Using these, we tell vivid personal stories and create powerful physical experiences across our
five museums that reflect the realities of war as both a destructive and creative force. We challenge people to
look at conflict from different perspectives, enriching their understanding of the causes, course and
consequences of war and its impact on people’s lives.
IWM’s five branches which attract over 2.5 million visitors each year are IWM London, which will open
extensive new Second World War and The Holocaust Galleries in autumn 2021; IWM North, housed in an
iconic award-winning building designed by Daniel Libeskind; IWM Duxford, a world renowned aviation
museum and Britain’s best preserved wartime airfield; Churchill War Rooms, housed in Churchill’s secret
headquarters below Whitehall; and the Second World War cruiser HMS Belfast.
Check out the other stops on the Blog Tour…
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