After nearly two years fighting in the Korean War, Miles and his regiment The Prince Regent’s LightInfantry, find themselves on the frontier of the Cold War in West Germany. Battle-worn and oblivious to the outside world the officers set out to pursue a life of pleasure, comfort and fun. Their lives become complicated by a new commanding officer who turns out to be a paranoiac martinet, the arrival of a clever and louche young officer, and–for Miles–a girl he still loves who is now married to a brother officer. We watch their lives unfold, sometimes hilariously and sometimes tragically, in the closed society of a regiment undermined by amorality and the abuse of power.
As a veteran of Cold War soldiering, the author does an excellent job of bringing to life the military world of a fictional infantry regiment cloistered in Germany and playing out the last rites of the ‘old days’. A great read and highly recommended to anyone who would like to get a really good feel for what time in uniform was life for those who served in the British Army of the Rhine. John Ogden provides superb psychological insights into the motivations of his characters and, having spent my early commissioned years in Germany, I was certainly able to relate Silken Dalliance to stories I had heard of life on the ‘Eastern Front’.
The lovingly recreated world of Ogden, a former professional soldier, is clearly based on fond recollection, altogether convincing. For its humour, and for the easy, unaffected elegance of the writing, this trilogy should rank with Evelyn Waugh’s ‘Sword of Honour’, even though the background is the Cold War and the hero not a Catholic. Unlike Waugh, however, the melancholy alternating with the fun is never darkened be pessimism. Out of the ordinary and always stimulating, it is a thoroughly enjoyable read.
John Ogden served as an officer in the King’s Shopshire Light Infantry in the 1950s and once again he uses his insider’s knowledge to recreate the atmosphere of a light infantry battalion of the period. It is wonderfully well-written, and I enjoyed it even more than On Fire. Literary historians will find this book of interest; future military historians will be indebted to Ogden for his detailed picture of regimental life; and everyone else will be grateful for an extremely good read.
Ogden’s ear for the dialogue of all ranks of the British Army protecting West Germany in the 1950s is at perfect pinch. His psychological insight into the motivation of his characters is equally superb. Just as its predecessor ‘On Fire’ examined the concepts of comradeship and courage, so ‘Silken Dalliance’ inquires preceptively into fhe nature of leadership. The ‘A Military Education’ trilogy is shaping up well to become one of the great Cold War novel sequences. (from back cover)
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