Penguin £8.99 (346pp) (free p&p) from the Independent Bookshop: 0870 079 8897
Amazing Tales for Making Men Out of Boys, By Neil Oliver
Friday 01 May 2009
Oliver is the ardent Scottish archaeologist who punctuated the BBC series Coast with braw yarns of daring-do. Here he adopts the same approach on a worldwide canvas, ranging from Scott of the Antarctic to the Charge of the Light Brigate.
Following the current vogue for hero worship and gender differentiation, his gung-ho haul is wholly lacking in irony, unless you count the Spartan threatened by an arrow shower at Thermopylae: "At least we'll be fighting in the shade!"
Reading Oliver's dubious spouting - "Show me a man who says he never once dreamed of being an SAS man and I'll show you a man who's not being entirely honest, not least with himself" – one yearns for Lytton Strachey.
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