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The story of the Second World War as seen through the eyes of an extraordinary young man in quite extraordinary circumstances.

17 September 1944: the Allies have launched the largest airborne offensive in history, delivering 36,000 troops by parachute and glider to the Dutch-German Border. In what will become known as the Battle of Arnhem, half of them will fall as casualties of war. Among their number is Theo Trickey, a young paratrooper so dreadfully injured he is not expected to survive.

Under the care of Medical Officer Captain Daniel Garland, Trickey is shipped to Germany as a Prisoner of War. As Garland slowly nurses him back to health, he discovers that there's much that is unusual about Trickey, starting with a chance meeting he had with Erwin Rommel before the War...

From the bestselling author of Under an English Heaven, Airborne is the first in an unforgettable trilogy that tells the story of a young soldier, of a new regiment and how, together, they altered the course of a war.

286 pages, Kindle Edition

Published January 12, 2017

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About the author

Robert Radcliffe

20 books19 followers
This is a pseudonym for Robert Mawson.

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Displaying 1 - 29 of 29 reviews
Profile Image for Veronica ⭐️.
950 reviews189 followers
February 25, 2019
Airborne is the first in a trilogy set during WWII.
Captain Daniel Garland, doctor to the 11th Battalion, narrates the story in 1st person. He is currently in a POW camp attending to a patient Theo Trickey. Garland’s narration then goes back in time to tell how they came to be in the camp.

With vivid descriptions of the battalion’s air drop over Ulm, then the men being separated, makeshift hospitals, lack of equipment, the dogged fighting and bad conditions. The scenes are very descriptive and there is plenty of humour with the banter between the soldiers. During one of the makeshift hospital setups Garland operates on Trickey and saves his life. Garland now sees Trickey as some good luck charm and feels responsible for him.

The story then moves to a separate narration of Theo Trickey’s story. The story moves through Trickey’s life from his British father meeting his Italian mother to his schooling in Italy and the divide between the citizens of Italy and Theo’s move to England and subsequent enrolment in the British Forces.
Although Trickey never finishes his training his story is quite amazing as he first escapes capture as a soldier in Germany and then escapes again on a commando mission in Italy to then be enlisted as a paratrooper.

“I never wanted this, I tell myself, I’m ill prepared, ill suited and hopelessly out of my depth.”

Both garland and Trickey felt that they weren’t brave and they weren’t prepared for the fighting and killing but I think this was the general feeling for all involved. They were mostly young men doing what they had to do.

I’m not going to pretend that I know if it’s well researched and historically accurate because I wouldn’t know. I love these stories for the action, drama and the personal touch not the historical facts.

Airborne is a compelling read with plenty of action and battlefield humour.
The story continues in Freefall Book II in the Airborne Trilogy.

Profile Image for Cold War Conversations Podcast.
415 reviews258 followers
September 24, 2017
Well researched and compelling novel involving British airborne troops in World War 2

Robert Radcliffe delivers an authentic and well researched novel based around British airborne trops of World War 2. Whilst making sure the details is correct he delivers a suspenseful and intriguing tale that follows two timelines that coincide at Arnhem in 1944.

I enjoyed the writing and action action was delighted that Radcliffe stayed close to the facts to deliver a believable tale that kept be interested.

Readers are warned that the third in the trilogy needs to be read too as this book does leave you in suspense at the end...


I received this book via netgalley and was not required to provide a positive review.
Profile Image for John McDermott.
365 reviews44 followers
August 21, 2019
Airborne was a brilliant must read novel about the Parachute Regiment during WWII concentrating on 'Theo' Trickey and Daniel Garland. Compared to James Holland ,whose excellent Jack Tanner books I'd been reading prior to Airborne , Robert Radcliffe is less gung ho and a better writer. The opening sequence where the paratroopers are waiting to drop while being fired upon by anti aircraft guns ,is thrilling, tense and real. In fact,the whole book demonstrates impeccable research which makes for an absorbing read. A truly excellent book and highly recommended.
Profile Image for Dolf Patijn.
637 reviews31 followers
January 1, 2022
Airborne is a nicely paced WW II adventure novel with loads of interesting facts and is also the first of a trilogy. There are two main protagonists in the book: Medical Officer Captain Daniel Garland and paratrooper Theo Trickey. Both end up in a German prison camp where Garland discovers Trickey's unusual story that also involves Erwin Rommel. The story goes back and forth in time between 1944, the start of the war and even before. Some people might find that a problem but it is well done and makes it more interesting in my humble opinion. You slowly get to know the two characters and I'm really looking forward to the next book in the trilogy which will be launched in 2018.
Profile Image for  ManOfLaBook.com.
1,145 reviews71 followers
July 9, 2017
Airborne by Robert Radcliffe is a historical fiction book about an English air-borne medic who became a POW in WWII.

Theo Trickey, a paratrooper, was part of the largest airborne offensive in history, the Battle of Arnhem September 1944, 36,000 troops land by gliders or parachutes on the Dutch/German border. Nine days later half would be casualties including Theo who is not expected to survive.
Captain Daniel Garland, a medical officer, takes care of Theo and nurses back from the dead only to realize there is something unusual about the young paratrooper.

Airborne by Robert Radcliffe is an epic tale which takes the reader on a sometimes messy journey of two men whose fortunes entwines during the war. The novel is so well written, that I unless you keep in mind that it is fictional it would be easy to convince yourself that you are reading someone’s memoirs.

The book is fast, the story moves quickly from one timeline to another and through different characters. I suggest that if you don’t have the time to read at least 4-5 chapters pick up something else and come back as soon as you’ll have time. Otherwise it might be difficult to keep track of where you left off.

I truly enjoyed this book and was sad it ended, I learned a few things but even if I didn’t, the author’s voice is so convincing that he could have told me the Nazis had a moon base and I’d buy it.

The book is extremely entertaining, well written and well researched. The plot is convenient, but that was, for me, part of the fun and I’m looking forward to the second book in the series.

For more reviews and bookish posts please visit: http://www.ManOfLaBook.com
Profile Image for John Purvis.
1,128 reviews18 followers
November 17, 2017
"Airborne" eBook was published in 2017 and was written by Robert Radcliffe (http://www.christopherlittle.net/auth...). This is the seventh novel published by Mr. Mason(Radcliffe).

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of Violence and Mature Language. The story is set throughout Europe during World war II. The two primary characters are British Army Medical Officer Captain Daniel Garland and Theo Trickey, a young and heavily injured paratrooper.

The story begins with the risky Operation Market Garden, the airborne invasion that the Allies hope will bring a quick end to the war. The attack fails and thousands are killed, wounded or captured. Among the captured are both Garland and Trickey. The story follows these two and jumps back to their experiences prior to the Battle of Arnhem.

I thought this was an interesting 8+ hour read of 285 pages for this World War II era novel. I liked the characters in the story, and the plot was different. Not so much combat experiences, but what went on with the characters before and after Arnhem. The story did jump around a bit and I thought ended rather abruptly. The cover art is reasonable. I give this novel a 3.7 (rounded up to a 4) out of 5.

Further book reviews I have written can be accessed at https://johnpurvis.wordpress.com/blog/.
Profile Image for Katie.
44 reviews8 followers
June 8, 2017
I received the copy on Netgalley (and I know I'm a bit late to the party :))

Some might consider it ironic that an army medical officer's first taste of blood in the field of battle should be his own.

The book had me hooked from the beginning. Despite knowing how the story will ultimately end (by that I mean the end of the war, not what will happen to the main characters) it was still very interesting. I enjoyed the characters and witty sentences such as the one quoted above.

Throughout the book, the narrators change, from the first person point of view of Doctor Garland, to the third person point of view of Theodore. Garland's story starts with the war, while Theodore's story is, at least at the beginning, more about him. It is a good approach to get the reader to know both of the characters well throughout the story, but for me, it was confusing at the beginning, especially because the first chapter begins way after the other ones.

The book's pace is great and it is very descriptive. From time to time it nearly transported me to the era of World War II and I sometimes felt as if I was there with the characters. It was realistic and it showed the horrors of war, especially in the parts of the Doctor, when he described conditions in hospitals and POW camp.

It is a great World War II story and I look forward to the second part.
Profile Image for Tanya.
854 reviews14 followers
August 25, 2022
Life’s routines and rhythms – eating, sleeping, washing, thinking – all cease except as sort of splintered fragments of their recognized forms. Existence evolves into a book hacked to shreds by a madman with an axe. The words are all there, somewhere, but any order, any sense, any narrative structure, any meaning, is gone. [loc. 386]

Having enjoyed Radcliffe's Under an English Heaven, I kept him in mind as an evocative and articulate writer of fiction about military and civilian life during WW2. When Airborne showed up at a bargain price, I bought it, and elements of the Sayers / Paton Walsh A Presumption of Death inspired me to read it. I think I was hoping for more RAF: I was certainly hoping for more than the first third of the story.

Medical Officer Captain Daniel Garland arrives in the Netherlands just in time for the Battle of Arnhem, his first battle and a test of his professional skills as well as his mental resilience. One of his patients is a young paratrooper named Theodore Trickey, so dreadfully injured that he's not expected to survive. Garland is determined to do his best for his patient: "You may think it inconvenient he’s still alive, but that’s his choice. Our job is to help him until he decides otherwise." Between chapters of Garland's (present-tense, first-person) account of imprisonment, escape attempts, and negotiations with German doctors, we learn more of Theo's (past-tense, third-person) story: born in South Tyrol, he speaks multiple languages, never knew his father, and has attracted the attention not only of the British military but of Field Marshall Rommel, who seems to have an interest in Theo.

Unfortunately, as mentioned above, this is only the first part of a three-part story: we don't find out what the connection between Rommel and Theo truly is, or how Theo ended up in what passes for intensive care in Stammlager XIB. I'd also like to know more about Garland's history: so far he's somewhat of a cipher.

Radcliffe's prose is very readable, the story (so far) well-paced, and there is humour as well as horror in his depictions of battle and war. I hope to read the rest of the trilogy some time soon...

Profile Image for Richard van Balen.
72 reviews1 follower
September 20, 2017
As a first book of a trilogy the only thing that really matters is whether you want to read the other two I suppose. This book certainly makes we want to read the rest, right now if possible.

The story evolves around two British paratroopers during Market Garden, which we all know was one of the greatest allied failures of the second World War. One of the two protagonists is a doctor, the other an immigrant from Northern Italy. The characters are wonderfully laid out and interesting.

What I find mainly impressive is the realism. I live near Arnhem and cross the areas that are described in the book regularly. It is clear that the author did proper research on the area, or at least it feels like it. Everything is just right.
The book shows the despair during this part of the war and the madness of it. The failure Market Garden was is never hidden, a thing that happens way too often.

Without going too much in depth I can only advice this book to anyone who is interested in Market Garden, none glorified stories about the war, and doctors in wartime which is a personal favourite of me.
Profile Image for Hana.
180 reviews7 followers
September 20, 2020
I never read stories about world wars because usually (at least what I see in bookstores around me) it's about undercover tension of persecuted civilians, their despair and disgusting cruelty of gestapo. Horrible.

But this was about the soldiers and their fighting - of course, it was desperate, brave and they suffered a lot, but this book is mainly focused on the action - what happened, what are characters doing and not on their inner thoughts or feelings (I mean, yes, we can see that too, but it's not a focus of the story, so that's good)

It was amazing! I didn't want to read next volume because well, it's not my preferred genre, but now I fear I have to. Especially because of the ending- I really want to know what happens next.
Profile Image for Liezl Ruiz.
114 reviews14 followers
May 27, 2017
Straighten your tie (if you have to wear one), smooth out your skirts (if you're the kind to wear one), puff up your chest and walk straight (when you're not crouching low but if you are, do it with dignity) because you're about to embark into a bloody battle with bloody Jerries left and right if you survive the fall down to Earth to begin with (because you're a bloody paratrooper of the 11th Parachute Battalion of the British Army).

Airborne is a really funny book (albeit you have to look for the fun at times). It is a war book, sharing the confusion within the British forces (but we know who already won) during the second World War. We first follow a nondescript medic then to a morose character whose experiences are far too jarring and yet we get to laugh at. Read the book if you want to have some fun while watching crazy Scottsmen run to their deaths. We know they're brave but... come on.

This review was posted on Zirev.com

The pacing of the book was slow at first. You have to crawl your way from Doc Daniel Garland's point of view to Theo Trickey's rather exciting narrative. The slow-going introduction is what will put off people new to war books (or thriller books centered on military stuff) from finishing this book. The author chose to do flashbacks and jumping from one perspective (Garland) to the next (Trickey) in the third-person view. I think that was good in creating a mystery and intrigue as to what actually happened to Trickey that landed him unconscious for months on a German POW camp under the care of Dr. Garland. That would translate well on the big screen if the story ever gets adapted.

I was so used to the straight-to-action approach of Steven Spielberg in his film, Saving Private Ryan that I'd doze off on war stories starting off another way whether the material's in print or in celluloid (it's bits nowadays). For the slacker-brained, I meant whether the war story's in the form of a book or a movie. My love for HBO's Band of Brothers mini series did help a lot with the imagery elicited in this book as Airborne is just the first book of a trilogy series.

For those who just began reading this book: If you're ever bored with the intro, have patience. It will get good as the story progresses. The crawl will be all worth it.

Things I find funny early in the book:

One young man have one of his eyeballs lying on his cheek. The medics found the eye undamaged and still attached by the optic nerve and retinal vessels and replaced them back in the ocular cavity and bandaged him up as if nothing went amiss.
A young man was shot in the balls and pled the doctors to save his sacks as he's getting married the next month. Only one was saved and the doctors assured his prospects for fatherhood.
A British colonel who's a stickler of propriety and tidiness (especially when it comes to proper wearing of clothes/uniform, not to mention shaving) does not give a shit even if he's a POW addressing an enemy commanding officer. He will still tell him off for not looking tidy enough.

The humor sometimes reminds me of the confusion in Catch-22. Airborne is a really funny book with humor thrown even in the direst situation. Trickey doesn't even have the slightest humor in his bone (he feels as brooding as Jon Snow who knows nothing) but he has tons of encounters that are just so laughable.

Though her grasp of English was modest and his Italian non-existent, their rapport was at once intuitive and intimate, founded more on physical attraction and a shared love of the outdoors than meaningful conversation.

That quote above describes the lust and capitalizing story of Trickey's parents. I hope that kind of love will truly last for those individuals not affected by the humdrums and the hazards of life. In a way, both Trickey's parents were taking advantage of each other but I really love to romanticize what happened to them. Their story was what hooked me in the book. I didn't want to let go upon reaching their part. Theo's coming about in the world was captivating. His background story is very lush: from his separatist grandfather (who's proud of being South Tyrolean and doesn't want his culture/national identity to be engulfed by Italy), to the political dissent from within his close-knit clan, to him finding his identity all over Europe (with or without his commanding officer's approval).

So many things happened in this book. If the events in Catch-22 are confusing, you'll drop dead with this one. Real events shown from Band of Brothers look straightforward right next to the ones in this book. Everything is so haphazard, people have to be initiative, find alternative ways to failures (or cock-ups as they say). The only person without so much a qualm about would be the head of the whole Hitlerjugend, Erwin Rommel. His storyline will just spurt here and there but in those limited paragraphs, he's brilliantly savage AF!

Splash or crash? Do you want special ops messing about in boats? Or special ops messing in aeroplanes?

Ooh. Now I learned something new.

Take action and be brave Theodor for it is fear and inaction that kills.

I really love this book.
Profile Image for Fi.
588 reviews
November 23, 2017
Superb insight into certain events of WW2; my only criticism was the way the story flipped around - in particular, the opening chapter rather gave away what was to happen at the end.
Can't wait for the 2nd book in the series
Profile Image for Mark.
79 reviews
May 6, 2018
Great little book. Part third-person part first-person which can be a bit odd to begin with, but you soon get use to it. And being 1st part of a trilogy there is no satisfactory conclusion…but I am raring to read the next instalment, Freefall, out in paperback in September.
Profile Image for Helen.
448 reviews
August 24, 2019
Not as ' gung-ho ' in tone as I thought it was going to be. Actually a really intriguing thriller, with espionage overtones and edge-of-seat scenarios. Going to be jumping straight into ' Freefall ' 💗😄📚
July 19, 2020
Great read about a very interesting story. Good pace throughout, the main character is full of depth. Interesting to learn more about the Italian resistance and the background behind Italy joining the war, which I think is often overlooked) looking forward to getting stuck into book #2
55 reviews
February 5, 2021
Interesting if a little disappointing as I’d hope for more combat. The back stories are interesting and there are times of tension. The parts with Rommel just don’t seem believable. Hoping for better in the second book
187 reviews
November 4, 2021
Really enjoyable. Had to put the book down to go to sleep rather than starting to fall asleep and then put the book down. It ends on a bit of a cliff hanger so I’m glad my library has all 3 books of the trilogy!
236 reviews
July 22, 2017
well worth the read, interesting start , storyline quickly draws you in to the history of the Airborne division, without being too onerous, will be reading the next instalment soon
Profile Image for Jack.
97 reviews
December 2, 2017
A really enjoyable tale just bridging the space between fiction and non-fiction. I am very attracted to WWII tales anyway but this was well written, quite exciting and a very good read as we'll.
Profile Image for Baz.
356 reviews2 followers
January 3, 2019
I was pleasantly surprised by this book.Wartime stories are not usually my cup of tea but this was a good read & I'll be looking for more novels by this author.
Profile Image for Julian Blatchley.
Author 2 books1 follower
December 16, 2019
Good yarn. Flash-backs and jumps forward, engaging story, not earthshaking but a very entertaining read which leaves you wanting to know what happened next... I'll certainly read the sequel.
Profile Image for Glenn.
1,296 reviews6 followers
September 22, 2020
I enjoyed reading this novel - even though it isn't factual, it gives you a good insight to many battles in WWII... so worth a read.
Profile Image for Roopkumar Balachandran.
Author 7 books24 followers
May 12, 2017
Mesmerized by the cover of the book I requested for the copy through Net galley. I did not read the blurb. This novel is part one of Airborne trilogy, the story involves the life of three main characters paratrooper Theo Trickey, Medical Officer Captain Daniel Garland and Erwin Rommel (the desert fox).

The story starts in Ulm a small city on the Danube where prisoners of war Captain Daniel Garland along with captured 1st airborne Division. There he saves a gravely wounded paratrooper Theo. The story deviates from the battle to the life of Theo's childhood in Bolzano, his British father and South Tyrol mother, their fight against the right for branding them as Italian/German. Theo loses his father early and he is guided by his great grandfather and grandfather. Later Theo moves to England where he gets the chance to learn and sign up for the army and also a chance of meeting with Erwin Rommel who asked him to "make a decision" the words often popped out to Theo whenever he was confused, one for his ethnicity who he had to fight against, second for choosing as a paratrooper and thirdly almost working as a spy for England. His stint in army was first a failure until someone gives another chance to become a paratrooper. His success in damaging Trargino Aqueduct and getting the confidence from a group who have no command structure, no organization no relevant skills or weapons, fighting against Mussolini.

Subsequently the author narrates the story from Garland point of view, a medical officer who entered the war voluntarily, his visions of the war and his service to the patients which are beautifully narrated for instance how Garland coped with stench of cordite, blood, suppuration and smell of sewage and never ending procession of incoming stretchers with mutilated soldiers. How he looked the war torn places, from his own words, onslaught of artillery bombardment, passing through damaged buildings having few windows, roofless buildings, showing gaping holes buildings consumed by raging fire, streets littered with wreckage and debris, burned out army vehicles, fallen telegraph poles, smashed trees, shell craters, mounds of rubble on the streets, aptly showed the desolation of the war. Like his colleagues he was expecting the victorious entry of 30 Corps for their salvation but 30 Corps was unable to advance north, Dreadfully injured Theo is unconscious but his will power drives him to be alive. While treating in Stalag XI-B, Garland is transferred to Stalag 357 where he enjoys some freedom.

The story ends when Garland preparing to escape from Stalag 357 and Erwin Rommel in Africa.

The book is around 300 pages, fast paced and I enjoyed thoroughly reading this novel and I anxiously waiting for the second part. Fans who are interested in Second World War will surely like this novel. While reading this book I ordered a paperback of Robert Radcliffe's Under An English Heaven.
Profile Image for Nicki.
374 reviews7 followers
January 9, 2020
This is a fast-paced, punchy read, kicking off with the ill-fated Operation Market Garden, where our narrator, Daniel Garland, drops into the area around Arnhem as medical officer to a battalion in the Parachute Regiment.

Right from the start, this book conveys the reality of war. From the chaos of the drop to military training and precision making the best of the situation within minutes, this novel gives a real sense of how it must have been for those men parachuting into occupied territory. The battle scenes are terrific and so are those depicting Garland and his fellow medical personnel setting up and operating in makeshift field hospitals, often in the thick of the action. The shock of surrender and the reality of capture, the trauma of seeing those they've trained and worked with be killed, it's all here in this book.

Although he's our main narrator, Captain Garland is not the focus of this novel. Instead, it's a young paratrooper, Theo Trickey, who becomes the main character in the book. Born to a British father and South Tyrolean mother, Trickey has had an unusual route into the British Army. Be the time Garland finds him - barely alive amongst a pile of corpses waiting for burial - Trickey has already had quite the war. The novel flashes back to his early life and his first taste of action with the BEF in May 1940.

One of the things this novel excels at is showing how ordinary men like Daniel Garland and Theo Trickey were drawn into some of the most extraordinary moments in recent history. Neither of these men felt they were brave or heroic. Both simply did what was asked of them, without ever feeling that they were special or good enough, quite the opposite, a sentiment that seems common amongst veterans of both the First and Second World Wars.

Robert Radcliffe expertly captures the voices and actions of men in the thick of battle and in both the prelude and the aftermath. This is a book that rattles through the action, barely giving you time to breathe. This is the first in a trilogy and I'll definitely be picking up the remaining books.
Profile Image for Justin Sarginson.
888 reviews11 followers
February 17, 2017
Entertaining throughout. Forgiving the convenient plots, this is a fun read from start to finish.
Profile Image for David Slater.
200 reviews1 follower
March 2, 2017
A truly great novel of the Second World War. I can't wait for the 2nd in the trilogy.
356 reviews2 followers
Want to read
July 3, 2017
Thanks to Head of Zeus and netgalley for an ARC.
From the bestselling author of Under an English Heaven, Airborne is the first in an unforgettable trilogy that tells the story of a young soldier, of a new regiment and how, together, they altered the course of a war.

Advance Praise
"Radcliffe writes with knowledge and skill... [a] fascinating and convincing novel" THE TIMES

"Fantasic." KATE ATKINSON .

"Enthralling." DAILY MAIL

"A born storyteller." SUNDAY TELEGRAPH

"The mixture of fiction and fact provides a good look at real events…well written and readable" SOLDIER MAGAZINE

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