Wartime Courage, By Gordon Brown

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The Independent Culture

Although it tells some terrific stories, with clarity and competence, this dutiful vanity project raises only moderate hopes about the PM's post-Downing Street writing career. Brown gives us 11 respectful essays on Allied heroism from 1939 to 1945.

From Eric (Chariots of Fire) Liddell as a Japanese POW and SOE secret agent Violette Szabo in France to the railwaymen who prevented a pre-D-Day munitions train from exploding, the strongest pieces deal with audacity, valour and compassion away from the battlefields.

At the front, meanwhile, it's fun to spot lessons for the author. "To be surrounded," Brown writes about Bill Slim's dire straits in Burma, "had become an opportunity to prevail". Slim did; will his embattled chronicler?