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Popski's Private Army

4.15  ·  Rating Details ·  41 Ratings  ·  7 Reviews
In October 1942, Vladimir Peniakoff-nicknamed Popski-formed his own elite fighting force in the North African desert. Over the next year, this "private army" carried out a series of daring and truly spectacular raids behind German lines: they freed prisoners, destroyed installations, and spread alarm. An enthralling first-person account, filled with danger and thrills.
Paperback, 448 pages
Published August 28th 2002 by Cassell (first published 1950)
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Sherwood Smith
Though I am impressed with Rick Atkinson's massive, beautifully written trilogy on WW II, its American-centricness leaves me less than satisfied with respect to not only strategic planning but tactical carry-through, specifically the behind-the-lines actions of the various small units (often termed private armies) such as the LRDG, the SAS, etc.

Popski, born Vladimir Peniakoff, raised in Belgium and working in Egypt previous to the war, decided to get in, and found himself a place. In his own min
Mike Prochot
Sep 01, 2011 Mike Prochot rated it really liked it
Shelves: world-war-two
Your a male babyboomer and you remember sitting in front of the tv while wearing your Monkey Division helmet and cradling the latest weaponry from Mattel, just barely making it through a Marlboro commercial while waiting for the familiar "dum-da-da-dum" strains coming through that 4 inch speaker on the Zenith - and then in a flurry of sand, revving engine sounds and 30cal machine gun clatter - it begins.... THE RAT PATROL.

Who would have guessed it, it actually had some basis in truth.

Feb 19, 2013 Dru rated it it was amazing
Peniakoff and his unit manage to do terrifically impressive things without being at all gung-ho. V enjoyable. I liked his description of the more regular units of the British Army encountered during their progress through North Africa and Italy- brave, and very good at getting killed needlessly....
May 25, 2015 Martin rated it it was amazing
An awesomely understated memoir of special ops in the Western Desert and then Italy. Great personal memories of battles and administration of a small force behind enemy lines... A must-read.
Liz Muir
Jun 17, 2013 Liz Muir rated it it was amazing
Shelves: autobiography
Although the style of writing is somewhat dated, the content is wonderful. It shows hownhumble the real heros were.
Sam Benger
Aug 13, 2015 Sam Benger rated it it was amazing
One of the most amazing stories i have ever read, and written in a most enjoyable style by a clearly very clever author; if only there were another 40 chapters.
Viktor rated it liked it
Aug 30, 2012
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Oct 27, 2008 Ken rated it really liked it
Insightful account of life in a special unit at this early time in their evolution.
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Vladimir Peniakoff served in the British Army during World War II as Lieutenant-Colonel.
He was born in Belgium to Russian parents. After studying at Cambridge University he enlisted in the French army. He then went to live and work in Egypt, where he joined the British Army during the war. He is known as the founder and commanding officer of "Popski's Private Army".
More about Vladimir Peniakoff...

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