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Adolf Hitler: My Part in his Downfall (Spike Milligan War Memoirs)

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Milligan, Edgington and others start to dress like the characters, fashioning clubs and running into the woods shouting gibberish.

Since my copy of Spike Milligan’s Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall is on Kindle and to get it out of the way there are some nice drawings throughout the book and they do not show well on a Kindle Viewer. Adolf Hitler: My Part in his Downfall, is the first of Spike Milligan's seven memoirs that recount his recollections of life in the army during World War 2.

Roughly every third sentence is a joke, and most are good - sometimes, randomly, the horrors and insanity of his situation creeps in for a paragraph where he describes (without joking) how a fellow soldier died in an accident, or how decades later he visited the same place and cannot deal with the ghosts ('What’s happened to us all since then? That said, Adolf Hitler: My Part in his Downfall ends just as Spike's regiment arrives in Algiers for its first taste of action and, whilst there is some tragedy in this memoir, things will inevitably get more serious from here on in.

I'm actually not entirely sure how many volumes of this I read the first time around but I'm pretty sure it wasn't all seven. The book has a tone of photo's and drawings which are a nice addition to the text, and fit well with the way the book is written. The not joining up, the joining up, the band, the chaos of training and preparation, the sex and the boredom. Absent a major background in The Goon Squad (which I do not have) or other 1950-1980 British radio and television comedy (which I do) it is likely that a lot of this will mean little to even a modern Englishman.This book, the first in a series, looks at the time he spent with his unit wandering around Southern Britain learning how to soldier, and it's hilarious. It's not a bad book, and I can see why people like it, but I don't think I will be picking up the next books in the series any time soon. And while at times I enjoyed that style, and had to laugh because of what I read, at other points it came across a little forces. Like the potentilly funny scene where Spike and his sargent are being chased by a bull but find out that it's really a cow. Don't get me wrong; I laughed, rolled, smiled, shook my head with mock-disbelief and loved all the freaks and weirdos and did not want the splendid comic set-pieces to end.

He then plunged into the world of Show Business, seduced by his first stage appearance, at the age of eight, in the nativity play of his Poona convent school. We were issued with an air-mail letter, in which we were allowed to say we'd arrived safe and sound. During one training deployment, Milligan and others were caught hiding their rifles in a loft, resulting in two weeks detention.

Both begin with an England grossly unprepared for war and depending on outmoded traditions and building a tradition for muddling through. With that out of the way, my recommendation is that this is better thought of as the war time memoires of a soldier, musician, and humorist and not as it tends to be sold as the early humor of the leader of BBC radio gag show, The Goon Squad.

The group of pick-up military musicians practices for a month, then are asked to give their first gig in Bexhill Old Town Church Hall.

Part 3 begins a year previously, and launches into a favourite Milligan literary aside—a long discussion of setting up musical shows, including names of songs, instruments and players. Ultimately, however, Milligan published seven volumes covering his war service, his first nervous breakdown and reallocation to rear-echelon duties, his demob and early years trying to break into the entertainment industry. And, a very credible evocation, of the life of a conscript at the start of the war right down to the smelliness of the army uniforms and how nobody got the correct size. The cast had a lot of potential too, We have Arthur Lowe of Dad's Army playing a similar role as the base Commander.

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