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  • Sword of Bone

  • Imperial War Museum Wartime Classics
  • By: Anthony Rhodes
  • Narrated by: Mark Meadows
  • Length: 9 hrs and 24 mins
  • 4.0 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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Sword of Bone

By: Anthony Rhodes
Narrated by: Mark Meadows
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Summary

It is September 1939. Shortly after war 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.

©2021 The Trustees of the Imperial War Museum, The Estate of Anthony Rhodes (P)2021 Headline Publishing Group Limited

Critic reviews

"A brilliant, shrewd novel about British soldiers during the Phoney War of 1939-40 in France, leading up to the debacle of Dunkirk. Rhodes writes with a wonderfully dry, literate, clear-eyed style - a quietly confident masterwork." (William Boyd)

"It's wonderful to see these books given a new lease of life...classic novels from the Second World War written by those who were there, experienced the fear, anguish, pain and excitement firsthand and whose writings really do shine an incredibly vivid light onto what it was like to live and fight through that terrible conflict." (James Holland, historian, author and TV presenter)

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Disappointing

Redeemed by the last chapters which are a very vivid and engaging description of the emotions and spectacle of Dunkirk. But otherwise this is mainly about the author’s touring various bistros and restaurants across Phony War France. At times it’s really like a very tedious Michelin guide to 1940s France. I’m not even remotely interested in the quality of the wine in such and such a place, or how good the fish of the day was. A few times to build a sense of place, but goodness it’s repetitive and tedious after a very short time. Also Rhodes can be florid and very pretentious at times (describing a street as typically Balzacian for instance). This can get tiresome.

But it has its redeeming qualities and there are some funny stories. The last few chapters alone deal with the retreat and evacuation. I found these fascinating. My Grandfather was at Dunkirk so I feel I understand better what he went through. For that alone the book is worthwhile.

Narrator is very good. Hard to fault.

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