Book review: Pilgrim Days

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From the New Zealand Army in Vietnam to the British Paras and the SAS, this is the story of Alastair Mackenzie’s life as a professional soldier.

Author: Alastair Mackenzie

Reviewed by: Duncan Evans

 

Buy your copy here.

 

From the New Zealand Army in Vietnam to the British Paras and the SAS, this is the story of Alastair Mackenzie’s life as a professional soldier. It’s told in some detail, which means that for every interesting anecdote there’s an equally dull one which is, I guess, the actual life of a soldier. The stories from Vietnam illustrate how supporting firepower from artillery and roaming gunships was used, as well as how dangerous it was to patrol in the jungles. Not from Viet Cong direct gunfire, but from the endless booby traps and mines.

 

When the story gets to Northern Ireland in the ‘70s, when the Troubles were at their height, it becomes very grim indeed, with a casual acceptance amongst officers that there were going to be casualties in the ongoing urban struggle.

 

There’s a nice colour plate section in the middle, with one photo showing Alastair as a young boy during the Malayan Emergency because his father, also a soldier, had been sent there with his family. At times it’s not as thrilling as you might expect, but it is rich in detail of the various conflicts that the author served in.

 

Buy your copy here.

• Osprey Publishing
• ISBN 978-1-4728-3318-1
• 228 pages • Hardback • £18.99

 

As reviewed in The Armourer June 2019

 

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