28 March 2010

Review: The Twenty Thousand Thieves by Eric Lambert

The Twenty Thousand Thieves by Eric Lambert book cover

This book formed part of the compulsory reading list for my War Literature course at University more than 14 years ago. I'm embarrassed to admit I didn't finish reading it back then, in fact, I didn't even get half way through.

I've always wanted to pick this book up again and read it to the end, and it's been on my shelf ever since, reminding me of this fact and taunting me. Well, I've finally been in the right mind set and the right mood to pick it up again, and now can't think what all the fuss was about.

This is an excellent Australian War Classic, with a forward from Weary Dunlop, and provides a look at the lives of several Australian soldiers in the Second World War. I enjoyed joining them in this era, and making sense of their lingo and turns of phrase. I recognised their love of women and beer and was touched by their individual reflections on war and the situations they found themselves in.

I understood many of their observations from my own time in Defence and this book certainly rings true in so many ways. However by the end of the book, I would be surprised if any reader came to the conclusion that war is a good thing. In fact, I wonder how I would have felt if I'd finished reading this at ADFA and how I would have reconciled the anti-war nature of this book with the fact that I was training to be an Officer in the Defence Force.

Interesting stuff.

My rating = ***1/2

Carpe Librum!

Would you like to comment?

  1. That's what the ADF's psych testing is FOR - to hopefully just let through those that wish/hope war never happens, but will serve if it does to make it as short (and hopefully humane) as possible.

    Of course, the number of freaks at ADFA may say more about the standard of psych testing than they wish :)


Thanks for your comment, Carpe Librum!