9781843511458

Two Brothers, Two Wars

By: Thomas McAlindon

Rated 5.00 out of 5 based on 3 customer ratings
(3 customer reviews)

12.00

“Quite the best description of the life of a front line infantry soldier in the period 1914-1918 that I have read . It shows this pre-war soldier goes on to become commissioned and gains the Military Cross for single-handedly, armed only with a revolver, clearing a German machine gun pillbox. The remainder of the account of this uncle of the author is both enthralling and highly moving. There are also very impressive scenes of life on a remote Ulster small farm and a portrait of a grandmother who comes across as a heroine in her own right. The second brother’s experiences as a missionary priest cut off by the Japanese in Burma in World War II should be made into a film. ”

– Squadron Leader W. Caulfield

The author’s namesake uncle, Tom McAlindon, joined the Royal Irish Rifles in 1908 aged seventeen and fought on the Western Front from August 1914 until late 1918. He died agonizingly from dysentery in a military hospital in the south of England, to which he had just been sent from France. His mother and eleven-year-old brother Denis had made the grim journey from Armagh to be with him. The sight of his beloved and admired brother dying in such distress seemed likely to haunt Denis forever.

Years later Denis became a missionary priest in Burma. In 1941 the Japanese routed the British army there and captured his fellow priests, but his remote mission station remained undiscovered. In that sense he was untouched by World War II; yet this war recruited his active compassion in such a way that he finally laid to rest his ghost of Tom.

Drawing on family recollections, letters, military records and memoirs, and the archives of the Columban Missionary Society, the author tells a strange and moving story about the early life and war experiences of his two uncles, from the rat-ridden horrors of the Flanders’ trenches to the leech-infested jungle tracks of Burma. Their intertwined lives reach a symmetry seldom found in the haphazard progression of events, and find resolution in this masterly and consoling narrative.

THOMAS MCALINDON, born in Belfast, is Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Hull. He is the author of six books on Shakespeare and his contemporaries, including Shakespeare’s Tragic Cosmos and English Renaissance Tragedy (1991). These, and his critically acclaimed Bloodstains in Ulster: The Notorious Case of Robert the Painter (2006), have prepared the ground for this very different family memoir, Two Brothers, Two Wars.

PRAISE FOR BLOODSTAINS IN ULSTER

‘Riveting writing from start to finish – a terrific book.’ Bernard MacLaverty, Irish Times Books of the Year 2006

‘A historical work that’s electrifying, dispassionate and original.’ Eugene McCabe

‘A brave, well-written book – and a moving, personal journey for the author.’ Thomas Kilroy

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3 reviews for Two Brothers, Two Wars

  1. Rated 5 out of 5

    Lilliput Press

    “Great read well put together kept you interested right to the end.” PAUL MCALINDON

  2. Rated 5 out of 5

    Lilliput Press

    “Quite the best description of the life of a front line infsntry soldier in the period 1914-1918 that I have read . It goes on to show this pre-war soldier goes on to become commissioned and gains the Military Cross for single-handedly, armed only with a revolver, clearing a German machine gun pillbox. The remainder of the account of this uncle of the author is both enthralling and highly moving. There are also very impressive scenes of life on a remote Ulster small farm and a portrait of a grandmother who comes across as a heroine in her own right. The second brother’s experiences as a missionary priest cut off by the Japanese in Burma in World WarII should be made into a film.” BILL CAULFIELD

  3. Rated 5 out of 5

    Lilliput Press

    “A friend recommended ‘Two Brothers, Two Wars’ by Thomas McAlindon a while back. I finished the book in two days! It was gripping reading. I would be extremely proud to say that I was related to either of the men in the book. I cried! Quite a number of times and I’m not ashamed to say so. I still cannot believe that Thomas didn’t survive the war – despite knowing from the very outset that he wasn’t going to make it. I hadn’t heard about the flight of the British northward out of Burma (Myanmar) during WWII until I read the book and now I find myself fascinated with another conflict in another theatre of war. The historian in me continues to research on. It really is such a pity that such history isn’t taught in schools – we continue to dehumanise history which allows for the same mistakes to be made over and over again.
    I’m sure that anyone who picks this book up to read will find it equally as fascinating as I have.”

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ISBN
9781843511458
Weight 0.5 kg
publication-date

6 November 2008

format

Royal Octavo 234 x 156mm, 198pp