Thursday, August 09, 2007

"A Good Innings."

(Book Review)

I’ve Had A Good Innings, Paul A. Mayer, General Store, Renfrew, 2006, 219 pages, photos.

This admirable memoir recounts the experiences of a professional soldier and diplomat who epitomises the phrase “an officer and a gentleman.”

Colonel Paul Mayer served Canada for more than 50 years in war and peace; as a front-line infantry officer in the Second World War and the Korean War, then as a peacekeeper in such dangerous hot-spots as Vietnam, the Congo, and Dominican Republic, then finally as personnel director of international development banks.

He starts by telling how he emigrated to Canada as a teenager, proud that his family came from a long line of soldiers in the British army since 1689. He followed this tradition by becoming a career officer in the Canadian army the very week the Second World War began. The dangers he encountered from then on demanded every ounce of inherited steely resolve, ranging from German tanks and Korean human-wave attacks, to narrowly escaping from being staked out to die on an anthill by homicidal African rebels, and surviving an assassination attempt in Santo Domingo that was thwarted by his equally resolute wife.

His lucid style and clear recollections are all the more impressive, considering the book was written during his 90th year. Col. Mayer is poorly served by his publishers though, with badly reproduced photographs and type set ragged-right which gives an unfinished look to the book. However, even that cannot spoil this sprightly account of real-life adventures.

-- Sidney Allinson.

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