4 out of 4 stars
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by Greg Kater
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and hoped it had more to it. The characters were very lovable and simple. I can say this was a light read as I just breezed through it within a day and a half and didn’t really feel bored with it. The title is very interesting to me as I did not know that Warramunga is one of the tribes of Australian Aboriginals. The cover was also intriguing as it featured the pyramids from Egypt. I initially thought that the book was about Egyptian people, boy was I wrong.
This book made me time travel back to 1942 and took me through the years up to 1945 in 38 chapters revolving around World War II and some aftermath. This story was set in Syria, Cairo, and Australia as it follows two war personnel: James "Jamie" Munro and Jack “Jacko” O’Brien. The two had established a friendship when Jacko saved Jamie’s life in Syria and had been both assigned in Cairo. Having a good partnership, the two continued to become partners when they were shipped back to Darwin, Australia.
Usually, when war stories are being told, we expect a lot of fighting and on the field battles. Yet this book presented us the other side of things, the less intense side of the story. This may be dull and boring for some, but it allows us to see what the other army officers have been doing out of the spotlight. We get to see that these reassigned officers have tasks like counterespionage and investigation. In Cairo, Jamie and Jacko met up with Captain Matt MacAuley, an injured war soldier from the 9th division, and Johnny Cook, an English man from the MI 6. The four were placed in Cairo to function as an intelligence group in the war. Cairo, then, was a place where many military personnel took refuge when they were injured or needed some rest but is also close enough to the battlefield. This made the place a mix of military men from both sides, therefore becoming a prime spot to spy on the opponent.
As the story continues, I noticed I was becoming invested with the characters such as Fifi, Yvette, Madame Badia, Monique, the Rosseau’s and Johnny. I have come to love them more as they were the usual people involved in the first half of the book. I was saddened by the second half, as most of the characters mentioned were left in Cairo. I suppose that was the reality of life, and war was. Although this may be fiction, I can’t help wondering if there were similar instances like these that happened in real life for the author. It may not be far from the truth after all. The previous characters were replaced by equally lovely people like Sarah, Tommo, John, Bill, and others. Unlike the first half, however, Jamie and Jacko had a lot of interaction towards people but within very brief encounters.
When the story was slowly approaching its end, the book became more and more about the Warramunga. From their way of speaking, showcased by Sarah, to how they are easily undermined. I loved how the book showed the readers what skillset and traditions that some Aboriginals do, e.g. tracking and corroborees, and see how underestimated they typically are. People need to realize that instead of degrading these natives, we should be honoring and celebrating with them as they uphold the customs of the land. Actually, throughout the second half of the book, Jamie had been asking the people they encountered about the origins of the establishments they went. Most of the respondents were the ones who built those establishments and businesses and he referred to them as "pioneers." This leads me to conclude that this book is a tribute towards appreciating Aboriginals, the so-called "pioneers" in the lands of Australia.
Some readers might be bored out by this book. Maybe because of their expectations that they would be reading an action-packed WWII book, but I found this mellow semi-action book to my liking. There was barely anything to be disliked! Though I would say that the second half of the book had a too-easy plot. Every establishment they went to had very cooperative people in them, but maybe that’s just how things are there? It is possible the author was making the readers see that the Aboriginals were cooperative and capable of living amongst communities. To live together in peace and harmony, working collaboratively as one people, and to not treat the "blacks" any lesser than they are. For example, it was mentioned that Bill had a "wonderful black staff who are well-trained and have stuck.." said by his wife regarding running their business. It means that they trust them enough to work with them because they can adapt to the society as much as anyone can.
I recommend this book to the readers who love historical fiction as well as those who are finding something light to read. I rate this book a 4 out of 4 stars because I truly loved the characters, the setting, and the story. There were also rare, almost close to no errors, found in the book. I was very relaxed when I was reading it and it was a breath of fresh air from other war stories. The book was a remarkable journey in Australia and Cairo! I would definitely like to see more of the Jamie and Jacko duo. I would also like to read more into stories that feature natives in today's society.
The Warramunga's War
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