The other day I was doing a bit of tidying up at home and came across a book I read last year. The book in question was “Happy Odyssey” by Lieutenant General Sir Adrian Carton de Wiart . I am not sure whether or not Carton de Wiart can be considered inspiring but certainly he is interesting. The title of this post is a direct quotation from the man himself with regards to his service in the First World War. I doubt very much his view was shared by many others who took part in this horrendous conflict, this is even more surprising given how many times Carton de Wiart was wounded.
I will not recount here the story of this interesting man’s life for that you can read his autobiography or if you can not be troubled by that you can look at his Wikipedia entry, which surely must rate among the top most interesting entries for any human being:
“He served in the Boer War, First World War, and Second World War; was shot in the face, head, stomach, ankle, leg, hip, and ear; survived two plane crashes; tunnelled out of a prisoner-of-war camp; and tore off his own fingers when a doctor refused to amputate them.” (Wikipedia)
The book itself is a good read and very fast paced, there is not much to challenge the reader and at times Carton de Wiart glosses over or even fails to mention some points that perhaps he should have done. For example, he was a recipient of the Victoria Cross yet at no stage during his book does he mention this or describe how he got it. Instead this was left up to Winston Churchill to mention during the foreword. It is not on the same literary level as other memoirs about the period for example “Goodbye To All That” by Robert Graves and at no point does it have any anti war element. If all you want is a bit of escapism and some Boy’s Own style swashbuckling adventure combined with the very non-pc views of a man from a bygone era then you could do worse than pick up a copy of this book.