Al Murray’s ‘Watching War Films with my Dad’ Century 2013. Review.

Watching War Films with my Dad is much more than a memoir or the book on war films and growing up in the 1970s. Yes it covers each of those aspects. It is much more interesting than being a memoir (where it is in the Where did it all go right upbeat category) and it does include a lot of anecdotes, career history, tour highlights and some introspection. The latter mostly to reinforce points in the narrative. Yes it is a book about war films and war toys of every type, and with Al Murray being an enthusiast for World War Two history he of course delves into the facts, the errors and inaccuracies in the movies and toys. Told while he is flying a Spitfire at RAF Museum Duxford or filming a documentary about Arnhem. Anyone of our post war generation who grew up in the 1970s watching war movies will find the book interesting (he covers much more recent too). It is a book with anecdotes about modern Britain – in the comic incisive style of the Pub Landlord. What you can’t tell from the ‘A Memoir’, endearing title or comic Al Murray at D Day picture, is this is a book about history. Mostly about World War 2 and also World War 1. But Murray covers many other historical examples and periods as well. He tells you a lot that you didn’t know that you thought you knew about (how close the German victory on Crete was), unless probably you are another war history buff like my mate Dr. Clarkson. I didn’t know that writer Ben Elton was the nephew of Tudor history scholar Geoffrey Elton, which might explain why the first Blackadder, my favourite (co-written by Elton) seems to have some great attention to detail. Murray clearly loves France and Germany and likes to explain about these countries to his British and wider audience. He loves Europe but as a patriotic kid of the ’70s he loves Britain – the good Britain of values and being on the right side. Obviously he isn’t uncritical. His chapter on the history of history is excellent and very educational.

I borrowed Al’s book from Liverpool City Council’s Sefton Park library, Aigburth Road, Liverpool.

Note. I neglected to declare an interest. Al Murray was the drummer in my brother, Pat’s, band at and after Oxford, they’ve appeared in short films together by Martin Pickles, and I once had my hair cut in Al Murray’s kitchen.

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