The guns of Navarone

Well written adventure tale with some incidents very loosely based on the partisan fighting in Greece and Crete during World War II.

I'm not usually a huge fan of fictional adventure stories, but this was an enjoyable read. Characterisation isn't that wonderful, but then that's not what this book is about, it's a real gung-ho adventure story that hits the ground running from the off.

There's the obligatory nasty Nazi, but generally the book is surprisingly even handed in its portrayal of the enemy. What I found most interesting was the transformation from the book to what has become its better known version, the film.

I think this is one of those very rare instances where the film is actually better than the book that first inspired it. The Guns Of Navarone [DVD] [1961] tightens up the plot and gets rid of a few of the discrepancies, and the major change in the sex of the partisans, and the traitor, add enormous drama. It's quite an object lesson in how to improve a screen play.

I don't think I would read The Guns of Navarone again, but it certainly provided me with an enjoyable afternoon, and made me want to re-read Ill met by moonlight, a real tale of daring-do in Second World War Greece - so extraordinary you really couldn't make it up.


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