Author: Norman Friedgut
ISBN: ISBN-10: 1440405557:   13: 978-1440405556
Publisher: CreateSpace

My War is a memoir.  The book is a story, told by a man nearing death, to his son, to be preserved and possibly published.  It traces a bilingual (English and French) young man through his entrance into the Royal Canadian Air Force; his training to be an aviator and then to England where he becomes part of the British Air Force.

The protagonist, Peter Friedgut, becomes a pilot in time to participate in the battle of Dunkirk during the Second World War when a large Allied force was cut off in Northern France by a German armored thrust.  He also participates in the Battle of Britain and works with the French Resistance, gathering intelligence.

At one point, Peter’s plane is downed in the French Channel and is rescued from the sea and taken to the Isle of Guernsey.  His physical injuries from the water landing are minor compared to what has happened to his mind.  He is no longer bilingual.  He can, temporarily, only speak French.  This problem brings about several unusual and sometimes amusing happenstances.  While his amnesia lasts, because of his demeanor and tendency to sleep outdoors, he becomes known as “Mad Harry.”

The protagonist is a fighter pilot through and through, but he is also something of a rake.  Beginning early in the book, we learn of the very young man’s first sexual adventures, a coming-of-age part of the tale.  But as the book progresses, Peter is enamored, at least temporarily, by a new woman in every country—and city—that he visits.  He counts among his adventures the fact that he has been married four times. While on Guernsey, he meets the woman who will later be his lifelong wife and the mother of the author, but he also has intimate episodes with other women—on a tiny island in the middle of a war! The author, at the end of the book, confesses doubts about his father’s truthfulness regarding the number of women with whom he had relations, but finds evidence that, very possibly, the old man wasn’t exaggerating.

The book,  My War, is an easy and fun read.  Its tone is exactly what it should be: comfortable and fascinating.  Reading it is much like relaxing and listening to someone who was a soldier—in this case an airman—tell his war stories.  Such tales are sometimes offhand in their description of violent action and, like all stories told by warriors about war, will inevitably include fond reminisces of the women they knew.

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