Death Or Glory by Michael Asher. Read It!

Discussion in 'The Book Club' started by Themanwho, May 20, 2009.

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  1. Well I have just read “Death Or Glory – The Last Commando” by Michael Asher, and I’m impressed. Impressed that such a festering turd of a book could ever be published. Impressed that a man who has made a point of criticising others’ literary efforts (McNab & Ryan) would come out with such unadulterated warporn. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy good warporn (Sven Hassel, Bernard Cornwell etc). But this ain’t good.

    The story centres around Sgt Tom Caine of the Middle East Commando, a cashiered Royal Engineer Lieutenant (who’s managed to make it up to Sgt pretty sharpish). He’s a rebellious fellow who “seems to take orders as a point for discussion,” with choicely described over developed arm and shoulder musculature. He also has a thing about protecting women, which is convenient. If all of this reminds you of a certain Richard Sharpe (albeit in reverse for the career), well imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

    After disobeying orders and saving his troop, Caine is offered the choice of court martial or a suicide mission to save a female WRNS courier whose plane has crashed behind enemy lines. So off he toddles with a crew straight from Warporn Central Casting. He’s got a huge Gunner called Wallace (Think Tiny crossed with Patrick Harper) a sniper called Copeland (the Legionnaire), even an ex RMP called Todd Sweeney (Julius Heide?) who’s a bit of a tit. Along with a load of other bit part actors, as well, they toddle off across the desert in the best armed convoy known to man (all vehicle and weapon specs specs lovingly described, if occasionally inaccurately – 5.5mm Boys AT Rifle!). on their way they have running battles with Brandenburger Commandos, get strafed by the RAF and the Luftwaffe, have a crap orgy with some Italian deserters’ wives, are befriended by local arabs, get tortured by an evil Gestapo man, rescue the girl, get betrayed, escape, and kill lots of Nazis. Oh and everyone gets wounded, but carry on killing.

    Written in a more engaging style ( Bernard Cornwell, Simon Scarrow etc) this plot would hold together (or at least I’d be prepared to ignore some howlers), but unfortunately, it scans like a teenager’s effort after attending his first ACF drill night.

    Here a passage to illustrate my point:

    “A bayonet sliced Padstowe through the solar plexus, missed his heart by a beat. Another jagged his kidney. Padstowe reeled, choked up blood, felt the earth rear up before him in yellow shrouds. He saw his mate Turner, who had just run 30 yards from his sangar, blunderbussing jerries with a Bren from the hip. Jerries jitterbugged, gurgled gore, fell back, tippled over in the sand. Two Huns worked behind Turner, blasted him with rounds, semi-automatic. Turner felt the hits, went numb, saw Padstowe fall in a heap. He squeezed metal, steam-shovelled .303 tracer, fire gutted Jerries, wiped them out. He took in the dead Huns, he swayed, he boked blood, he jettisoned the Bren”.

    And there’s bloody pages full of this cack, I just picked that page at random! It’s like Sven Hassel on acid. In fact, it’s not even warporn. It’s a combat-teen wet-dream.

    Not only is the style awful, the characters have a modern viewpoint on everything. Talking about “giving respect”, referring to themselves as “Grunts”, the WRNS Doris screaming “Fcuk you” as she kills another bucket full of Huns/Jerries/Nazi scum with whatever gun she had at that point. The dialogue, which is interspersed with “blighter, crikey chaps,” etc, never rings true.

    In all this is the worst book I’ve ever read. Commando comics have better plot lines and more developed characters. If it had been just a little bit better, I would have thrown it away after the first chapter. But it’s SO awful that I couldn’t stop myself from turning the next page. I just kept thinking it couldn’t keep on being this cack. But I was wrong. So wrong. In fact I would recommend anyone to read this book.

    Because misery loves company.
  2. If the whole thing is as badly written as the passage you quoted then:

    A)You're right, it's a huge, steaming pile of turds(or a "Dan Brown" to use the correct publishing term :wink: ).

    B)I'm starting my own novel right now. Because if Asher can get paid for sh1te like this, ANYONE can! :D

    The sad thing is, I actually liked his first book, Shoot To Kill. 8O
  3. Ord_Sgt

    Ord_Sgt RIP

    Asher is a dullard of the first order - I wouldn't buy one of his books if my life depended on it
  4. Like I said, STK was a decent book, at least the first two thirds of it, about his service in the Reg. Paras and 23 SAS.

    It went a bit OTT when discussing his time with the RUC... :roll:
  5. Shoot to Kill was a bit shite I thought, mainly, as you say due to his over egging of his time in the RUC

  6. AlienFTM

    AlienFTM LE Book Reviewer

    The character list also reminds me of the Commando series of computer games:

    one busted from Lieuey;
    one over-muscled;
    a sniper, etc
  7. Biped

    Biped LE Book Reviewer

    I won't bother then. If anyone wants to read warporn, then Sven Hassel is a master of the art. Accept no substitutes.
  8. old_fat_and_hairy

    old_fat_and_hairy LE Book Reviewer Reviews Editor

    Bugger! I was given this for my birthday yesterday. Was looking forward to reading it. Wish I had read this earlier.
  9. AlienFTM

    AlienFTM LE Book Reviewer

    I do recommend James Rouch, "The Zone" if you want Cold-War-turned-hot warporn, but they are long out of print, half the series (vols 6 - 9 IIRC) never got released in this country anyway and the PDF of the whole thing costs more than I am prepared to pay for the reading time they give.

    (I found vols 1-4 in a sell-off-dead-people's-possessions shop in Wales a few years ago and the average reading time was, well, tending to zero. Close to a Commando training manual - I mean comic. Good warporn read though if you are a Cold War Warrior.)
  10. old_fat_and_hairy

    old_fat_and_hairy LE Book Reviewer Reviews Editor

    I have them sitting on a bookshelf in my office. Excellent stuff, and I like the driver, Burke. reminds me of same named bloke who drove my 432.
  11. Oohh, Cold War turned hot fiction. I wasn't around then but wouldn't mind reading some of that, seeing as it would've been a fecking monumentally big war! Read 'Red Storm Rising' and it whetted the appetite a bit, although apart from that and Red October, the rest of Clancys books seem pretty toss.

    At the moment I am trying to find something called Team Yankee, about US tankies versus the Russians, and Red Army, written from the Russian point of view in the mythical WWIII. There was one by a Gen Hackett as well I think, that I need to track down.

    Anyone recommend any others?
  12. Asher is well balanced, he has a massive chip on both shoulders.
  13. Don't take my word for it - I'm just some random bytes on the tinternet. Make your own mind up. Yes, that's it... just open the cover... go on, you'll like it...

    Or you could turn your negative into a positive by making little games up - like how many different made up words Asher can get into one chapter, or how far ahead you can guess the plot developing. Truly this is a classic of our time.

    Alternatively take solace from the fact that your copy was given to you, whereas I bought mine from Tesco.
  14. Yeah, but in most War-Porn books or films the cast list usually includes variations on:

    Big, muscular soldier.
    Decent or incompatent Officer(the higher his rank, the more likely he is a cnut).
    Cynical, battle-hardend Sgt.
  15. Team yanke is written by Harold Coyle and is written from the POV of a US officer (I think coy commander) ... I have read the Rusian one you mention... cant think what it was called though