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Operation Heartbreak

by Duff Cooper
Persephone book no:

50 51 52


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The Far Cry
A Well Full of Leaves
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AFTERWORD BY MAX ARTHUR
168pp
ISBN 9781903155417

The hero of Operation Heartbreak (1950) is called Willie Maryngton; the central tragedy of his life is that he is too young to fight in the First World War and too old for the Second. Willie 'knew perfectly well that when a regiment went abroad on active service some officers and men were left behind. But he had never thought that he would be among those officers. The Colonel had talked about the first scrap, but that was just the scrap he wanted to be in. He had said something about heavy casualties. Willie minded little how heavy they were if he was in it, but how could he bear to sit at home, hoping that his brother officers would be killed so that he could take their place?' But Willie does in the end play a vital part in the Allies' eventual victory, and the knowledge that this book is based on a true wartime incident is in part why it is so moving. 'A story of why men go to war,' comments Nina Bawden, 'it is also a heart-wrenching love story; a wonderful novel by a masterly writer that should be on everyone's bookshelf.' And Emma Smith writes, 'I remember weeping copiously over Operation Heartbreak when I first read it – it is a deeply-moving book, beautifully written.' (Up to now Persephone Books has made every effort not to reveal the true story on which the book is based, not mentioning The Man Who Never Was or, more recently, the bestselling Operation Mincemeat. But in 2022 there is going to be a film of Operation Mincemeat with an incredible cast, for example Hester Leggett (above) is going to be played by Penelope Wilton. We shall be making a bit of noise about the incomparable and extraordinary Operation Heartbreak, even though it will mean revealing the true story that lies behind the novel.)

Endpaper

This wartime printed rayon, designed by Arnold Lever for Jacqmar in c.1941, is called 'Happy Landings'.

Picture Caption

Nancy Jean Leslie ('Pam') whose photograph was used as part of 'Operation Mincemeat' during WWII


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Categories: History Men (books about) Men (books by) WWII

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