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From the bestselling author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The BFG comes an autobiographical account of his exploits as a World War II pilot!

'Going Solo' tells of how, when he grew up, Roald Dahl left England for Africa and a series of daring and dangerous adventures began. From tales of plane crashes to surviving snake bites, read all about Roald Dahl's life before becoming the world's number-one storyteller.

This book is full of exciting and strange things—some funny, some frightening, all true.

Here is the action-packed sequel to 'Boy' (1984), a tale of Dahl's exploits as a World War II pilot. Told with the same irresistible appeal that has made Roald Dahl one the world's best-loved writers, Going Solo brings you directly into the action and into the mind of this fascinating man.

Roald Dahl was a spy, ace fighter-pilot, chocolate historian, and medical inventor. He was also the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The BFG and many more brilliant stories. He remains the World's No. 1 Storyteller.

209 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1986

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About the author

Roald Dahl

1,348 books23.7k followers
Roald Dahl was a British novelist, short story writer and screenwriter of Norwegian descent, who rose to prominence in the 1940's with works for both children and adults, and became one of the world's bestselling authors.

Dahl's first published work, inspired by a meeting with C. S. Forester, was Shot Down Over Libya. Today the story is published as A Piece of Cake. The story, about his wartime adventures, was bought by the Saturday Evening Post for $900, and propelled him into a career as a writer. Its title was inspired by a highly inaccurate and sensationalized article about the crash that blinded him, which claimed he had been shot down instead of simply having to land because of low fuel.

His first children's book was The Gremlins, about mischievous little creatures that were part of RAF folklore. The book was commissioned by Walt Disney for a film that was never made, and published in 1943. Dahl went on to create some of the best-loved children's stories of the 20th century, such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda and James and the Giant Peach.

He also had a successful parallel career as the writer of macabre adult short stories, usually with a dark sense of humour and a surprise ending. Many were originally written for American magazines such as Ladies Home Journal, Harper's, Playboy and The New Yorker, then subsequently collected by Dahl into anthologies, gaining world-wide acclaim. Dahl wrote more than 60 short stories and they have appeared in numerous collections, some only being published in book form after his death. His stories also brought him three Edgar Awards: in 1954, for the collection Someone Like You; in 1959, for the story "The Landlady"; and in 1980, for the episode of Tales of the Unexpected based on "Skin".

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,769 reviews
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56.6k followers
November 21, 2021
Going Solo (Roald Dahl's Autobiography #2), Roald Dahl

Going Solo is a book by Roald Dahl, first published by Jonathan Cape in London in 1986.

It is a continuation of his autobiography describing his childhood, Boy and detailed his travel to Africa and exploits as a World War II pilot.

As a young man working in East Africa for the Shell Company, Roald Dahl recounts his adventures living in the jungle and later flying a fighter plane in World War II.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش روز ششم ماه فوریه سال2001میلادی

عنوان: سفر تک نفره؛ نویسنده: رولد دال؛ مترجم: شهلا طهماسبی؛ تهران، نشر مرکز، سال1379؛ در200ص، مصور، نقشه، شابک9643054780؛ چاپ دوم سال1380؛ چاپ سوم سال1382؛ چاپ ششم سال1386؛ چاپ هفتم سال1388؛ شابک 9789643054786؛ موضوع: سرگذشتنامه نویسندگان بریتانیا - جنگ جهانی دوم - سده 20م

نقل از مقدمه: (بخش نخست کتاب، از زمانی آغاز می‌شود، که به «افریقای شرقی» سفر کردم؛ قسمت دوم، مربوط به زمانی است که در جنگ جهانی دوم وارد نیروی هوایی شدم)؛ پایان نقل

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 07/10/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 29/08/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews155k followers
December 10, 2020
Whew! This man did more within a year than I have in my life.

And the giraffes would incline their heads very slightly and stare down at me with languorous demure expressions, but they never ran away. I found it exhilarating to be able to walk freely among such huge graceful wild creatures and talk to them as I wished.

This is the second half of Dahl's autobiography. What a wild life! Right after high school, Roald packed up his belongings, got a job for the Shell company and set off for Africa. For three years. No visits home, no calling his mom, just up and leaves his beloved family for a life of adventure. And during his time in Africa, a lion carries away a woman, a black mamba attacks his servant and a green mamba invades a house to kill a family dog.

It's quite interesting to hear an unfiltered account of that time. For example, all the men at the Shell company had a "boy." Now, this "boy" was actually a full grown man. He had a wife (sometimes wives) to support and essentially acted as a butler. He spoke Swahili and so did Roald (it was not considered right to force the "boys" to learn English). Roald taught his boy how to read and write, and his boy tended Roald's every need. It was strange to read about.

Only, before Roald could finish his time with the Shell company...the Great War broke out. And that was quite a story in itself. Roald joined the airforce and was trained as a pilot. As in, he was give 7 and a half hours of in-flight training before being declared fit for service along with fifteen other new pilots. Then, they were given fighter planes and told to get up in the air. Unsurprisingly, this happened:

It is a fact, and I verified it carefully later, that out of those sixteen, no less than thirteen were killed in the air within the next two years

All this before he turned twenty-five. The things he had to live through churned my stomach - e specially the account of how he crashed his first plane. Dahl spares no details and, as always, his stories were absolutely fascinating.

The PopSugar 2018 Reading Challenge - A childhood classic you never read

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Profile Image for Malbadeen.
613 reviews7 followers
January 13, 2011
2). I'm giving this book 5 stars without having actually read it, but ya know what it's my review so I can do whatever I want (don't try and stop me)!
It's getting 5 stars because my 2nd grade son LOVES, LOVES, LOVES it!!! The other night he got sent to bed with no read aloud (the little bastard lied to me about brushing his teeth, I know I'm such a hard ass) but he didn't even care!!! He just said "OK", grabbed his this book and happily trotted off to bed.
Then last night I had to go into his room at 10:00 and take the book away from him so he would stop reading it and go to sleep.
He is loooooooving it!
When I started reading it aloud to him, he was laughing so loud during parts of it I had to pause.
within the first 3rd of the book there was nudity on boats, a lion carrying a person, and a snake crawling into someone's house.
That's some good shit!

*and since it's my review I'm going to go ahead and give my son 15,000 stars for being so freakin adorable when he describes passages of the book to me. 10,000 for his enthusiasm, 2.5,000 for the dimple on his chin and 2.5,000 for his messy hair = 15,000!!!

Profile Image for Paul Christensen.
Author 6 books123 followers
June 27, 2019
Roald Dahl’s funny and vivid second autobiography covers the 1930s and 40s.

It deals with his time in:

Dodging deadly black mamba snakes.

Fighting against the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Athens with only seven rickety planes.

As a witness to the prelude of the creation of the Zionist entity. This section is extremely creepy and deserves to be quoted:

‘Is this your land?’ I asked him.
‘Not yet,’ he said.
‘You mean you’re hoping to buy it?’
He looked at me in silence for a while. Then he said, ‘The land is at present owned by a Palestinian farmer but he has given us permission to live here. He has also allowed us some fields so that we can grow our own food.’
‘So where do you go from here?’ I asked him. ‘You and all your orphans?’
‘We don’t go anywhere,�� he said, smiling through his black beard. ‘We stay here.’
‘Then you will all become Palestinians.’
‘No,’ the man said, ‘I do not think we will become Palestinians.’
‘Then which country did you have in mind?’
‘If you want something badly enough,’ he said, ‘and if you need something badly enough, you can always get it…’

Profile Image for emma.
1,823 reviews48.7k followers
July 16, 2021
i don't know why, as a child, i was so obsessed with roald dahl's recollection of his time as a soldier flying airplanes over Africa during World War II?

but it is probably what got me in for a lifelong lukewarm interest in WWII that is responsible for 54% of what i have in common with my father, so. i should be grateful.

part of a project i'm doing where i review books i read a long time ago. in this case at the age of approximately 8.
Profile Image for Calista.
3,887 reviews31.2k followers
June 7, 2018
Wow, Roald was in some series air battles during World War II. I mean he could have easily died. It might not be true, but I think he came through all that mess so he could write these children's stories for the world. He should have died many times during the Battle for Athens and all the other times he went up in the air.

There was a time he was talking about flying 300 miles and hour so low to the ground to escape being shot down that he had to lift up to not hit cows and walls on the ground. He did have a plane crash. He spent 3 years in Africa and Greece.

I love the first part of this story when he is on a steamer heading to Africa and he tells of all the exotic passengers on the trip. Expats love doing dotty things and they did some dotty things. It was a great character study. The book starts out with the colonel and his wife running on the deck of the ship totally naked. No wonder he is so great with characters. He lived a really interesting life.

I don't feel like I have done enough after listening to him, but my life is my life. Like he says, we don't travel the same way we used to. Flying somewhere is not the same as a boat trip that stops at many ports. He did some crazy things in Africa as well. He was 6'6". He was huge.

I had fun reading this and I was totally into his adventures. I also appreciate that he never took pleasure in killing people. He was always relieved to see people's parachutes open if he shot them down. I appreciate him and his works even more now. He is a hero of mine.
Profile Image for Matt.
3,731 reviews12.8k followers
January 9, 2017
“A life is made up of a great number of small incidents and a small number of great ones.” So opens the second and 'adult-based' portion of Roald Dahl's autobiography. He makes perfectly clear that this is not such a book, for autobiographies are full of useless and boring information. Dahl seeks to offer the reader some of the key memories he had during his early adult life, particularly serving in the Second World War. Accepting a job with the Shell Company, Dahl is soon shipped to the African continent, working particularly in Dar es Salaam, part of what is currently Tanzania. During his travel aboard a ship to reach the far shores, Dahl learns why the upper class held use of hands when eating in such low regard and the 'daytime entertainment' they found acceptable on deck. Arriving in Africa, Dahl uses all his patience and understanding as he undertook a complete culture shock, a world where wildlife ran the show and humans knew their place. While the scenery was spectacular and the people highly entertaining, the rumblings of war could be heard on the horizon. Dahl finds himself evacuated from the region, only to join the RAF to help Britain in the forthcoming Second World War. Lanky, yet determined, Dahl is an unlikely pilot-in-training before he became a key member of the effort in North Africa. While serving, Dahl is involved in a significant aerial accident, captured in a story he penned, eventually bastardised and published in the Saturday Evening Post. Dahl seeks to correct the narrative for the reader in this piece of writing, as if one might worry he was seeking to make himself seem overly heroic. The crash leaves Dahl with significant injury, his nose caved into his fractured skull (interesting for those who remember his childhood injury to the same nose), and he is required to remain in hospital for upwards of two months. While he convalesces, Dahl continues penning his weekly letters to his mother, though remains careful to censor his news, so as not to have the letters destroyed. Once healthy enough to fly again, Dahl heads out to serve in Greece, where he comes face to face with the Nazis, trying to hold the onslaught back and keep the Allies in control of the area. As the fighting intensified, Dahl dodges many a proverbial bullet and heads to the Middle East, where he sobers up to much of what was going on in the region and the European Theatre, learning of the extreme anti-Semitism or ignored undertone of the Nazi atrocities. As the reader is pulled deeper into the life of this wonderful author, Dahl uses his wonderful prose to breathe life into his life story. A must read for anyone who loves a story of humour and utter despair, all in short order.

Having recently completed the first volume in this first-person narrative, I wanted to take some time to explore the adult life of this man whose stories tantalised me throughout my childhood. As Dahl continues the story, boarding schools are replaced with African-style boardrooms (open air villages) and a collection of characters that only Dahl could dream up. Those Dahl mentions turned from being men recollected into individuals with complex backstories or who shaped Dahl in his intense battles in Africa and the war zones he discovered. Using a collection of his letters penned to his mother, Dahl is able to recall some of the minutiae, which helps substantiate his many adventures. Dahl outwardly admits the need to use this letters, both because of his age when writing the tale and the number of events that can mesh together in wartime. Crisp and humorous, Dahl is able to tell his story while keeping the reader spellbound, injecting passion for his situations on every page while not getting too wordy in his descriptions. A contrast to stories about chocolate-makers, giants, and fresh produce, this story (and its first volume) is not one to be passed over. It is yet another gem in the Roald Dahl collection.

Kudos, Mr. Dahl for this two-volume collection about your life prior to becoming the popular writer for which you are best remembered. I cannot wait to tackle some of your other works, adult- and child-centric alike.

Like/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at:
Profile Image for Miund.
Author 3 books13 followers
July 15, 2007
First I read 'Boy' and then I read 'Going Solo'. This book is perfect. Roald Dahl tells the grown-up part of his life in such a way that made me crave more for his adventures in the Royal Air Force. It's like sitting in a cafe, listening to your date who's telling you amusing stories of his life. He's a hundred years older than you are, yet you still find him attractive!
Profile Image for [ J o ].
1,941 reviews429 followers
March 16, 2020
A wonderful, harrowing and yet somehow light-hearted account of Dahl's time during the Second World War as a RAF pilot. Most fascinating, which one finds with the war poets, is, though it is obviously horrid and despicable, they all seem to bloody love war. Not nice when you nearly die, but jolly good fun otherwise. Camaraderie has a lot to do with it, but I think it's also just what you need to do when faced with such senseless, mindless stupidity.

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Profile Image for Settare (on hiatus).
259 reviews328 followers
September 27, 2020
I have a very personal relationship with Going Solo (one of my favorite books by one of my all-time favorite authors), so this review is going to be a bit personal and perhaps somewhat irrelevant.

My Going Solo
As a child, I'd devoured all of Dahl's books including this one, but its depth and underlying horror hadn't really registered with me as a nine-year-old.
Then, a decade later when I was nineteen, I was about to go on my very first 'grand' solo adventure: a backpacking trip to South Africa to stay and work in a wildlife conservation reserve (I was an ecstatic first-year Zoology student with big dreams about saving all the Cheetahs and Rhinos). Like many other travelers before an upcoming trip into the unknown, I got cold feet the night of departure, I almost wanted to cancel the whole thing and I was in desperate need of a story to distract me from my fear and encourage me to go on. So, one minute before leaving for the airport I snatched Going Solo from the shelf to take with me. I didn't recall the details, but I knew it was about a somewhat similar adventure, a solo trip to Africa, anyway. It saved me from anxiety and kept me hooked, awed, and encouraged through the airport fiasco and two long-winded flights. I took it to the wildlife reserve and read Dahl's descriptions of giraffe and elephants as I looked at the same animals in the distance. I formed an intimate bond with the book on that trip. So, Going Solo became my companion on all my solo trips after that. Whenever I am somewhere far out of my comfort zone and starting to wish I could run back to the comfort of my own bed, I take out this book, read my favorite highlights and forget I was scared of anything at all. I have cherished this book as a personal companion and motivational text, but that's only a tiny part of what this book is about and why it's so valuable.

Summary of The Book
Going Solo picks up where Dahl's childhood biography, Boy left off. In 1938, the 22-year-old Dahl signs a three-year contract to work in East Africa for three years with Shell. At this point, he's a typical young Englishman of his era: the world is his to discover and conquer, and the British Empire is there to help him in his great adventures and discoveries (he does not bat an eyelid about colonialism, of course). In the first part of the book, Dahl tells the stories of his tripe to Dar-es-Salaam on board a ship (so many funny parts), his stay in Tanzania which is filled with encounters with Mamba snakes, lions (and a "casually funny" story of a lion abducting a woman), giraffes, elephants, "dotty" colonialist Englishmen, and the local people, most notably his local valet Mdisho. This part of the book is more light-hearted than the rest and is filled with Dahl's typical deft sense of humor, his never-ending curiosity, wonder, and attentive observations:
“I often amazed myself by the way I behaved when I was certain that there were no other human beings within fifty miles. All my inhibitions would disappear and I would shout, ‘Hello, giraffes! Hello! Hello! Hello! How are you today?’ And the giraffes would incline their heads very slightly and stare down at me with languorous demure expressions, but they never ran away. I found it exhilarating to be able to walk freely among such huge graceful wild creatures and talk to them as I wished.”

Then, in 1939 the war breaks out and the events start to get more and more harrowing. On the days he receives the official news of the start of the war, the 23-year-old Dahl is stationed on the road to Mozambique and is ordered to stop German civilians to get out of the country. His orders are to open fire on them if they resist. (it doesn't come to that, fortunately, but one man is killed).
“I was twenty-three and I had not yet been trained to kill anyone. I wasn’t absolutely sure that I could bring myself to give the order to open fire on a bunch of German civilians in cold blood should the necessity arise. I was feeling altogether very uncomfortable in my skin. [...]
What was I going to do, I asked myself, if they refused to go back and tried to barge their way through? I knew there and then that I could never quite bring myself to give the order for the machine-gun to mow them all down. It would be an appalling massacre. I stood there and said nothing.”

After that, he decides to join the airforce and goes on to flight training in Kenya and Iraq. Before he officially starts his service, he suffers a serious injury and nearly escapes death in a crash and is hospitalized for several months. He goes back and joins battle and flies fighter airplanes in Greece, Libya, and Palestine, miraculously surives many near-death situations and is finally forced to go back to England in 1941, because his head injuries leave him incapable to fly.
His experience shows how mindless the battle strategies were, how the priority of the commanders was symbolic action at any cost instead of the lives of soldiers, how, instead of evacuating on time and saving many pilots they were ordered to stay and "protect" a fleet that didn't even exist, and how many colossal losses of human life could have been prevented if pilots with minimal training weren't sent on perilous missions on their first flights, and generally if the commanders weren't so incapable and mindless.

What I summed up in a few lines actually occupies most of the book and is some of the most terrifying, most haunting, most comic, and most light-hearted war memoirs I've ever read. Only Roald Dahl can write about war, airplanes crashing, oil tankers being bombed, people burned alive and lives lost, and STILL fit charm and humor in it.
“Dear Mama,
We’ve been doing some pretty intensive flying just lately – you may have heard about it a little on the wireless. [...] We’ve lost 4 pilots killed in the Squadron in the last 2 weeks, shot down by the French. Otherwise this country is great fun and definitely flowing with milk and honey …”

- Excerpt from one of the letters to his mother, many of which are included in the book.

His writing really demonstrates how ridiculous, how pointless, how grotesque war is at its core. Much of the world he lived in is absolutely alien and distant to me. I will never understand a world without long-distance telephone calls, I can't understand what it's like to be 23 and having to decide whether to shoot down 7o civilians of the "enemy", (at least I hope I won't have to do that in the next 16 months until I reach 24, but I think it's a safe bet that it won't come to that), I can't understand what it's like to be on air surrounded by 200 enemy aircraft ready to shoot you down, but I can relate to the humor, the deeply human feelings, the pain and joy and the spirit of adventure; and to the allure of "going solo". I am so grateful that Roald Dahl survived those atrocities and came to write most of my favorite childhood books and this memoir. But Dahl is only one person who managed to miraculously get out of one war alive, and he went on to become a terrific writer. I can't help but wonder, with a sting of longing, what about all the other potentially fantastic writers, artists, scientists, and generally life and joy that didn't survive all the wars humans have fought throughout history? What if they hadn't perished? What if all that potential wasn't lost for virtually nothing? I don't know. Surely, I would've wanted to read all of their works and memoirs as well.

Anyway, this book is one of my favorites of all time, partly because of the personal sentimental value that I've found in it over the years. It's been my trusty companion for whenever I'm Going Solo or getting lonely.
I recently listened to the audiobook narrated brilliantly by Dan Stevens (highly, highly recommended) on an early morning solitary run. While listening to the funniest parts, I was laughing out loud from behind my mask as I was jogging, which probably made a ridiculous sight and I'm sure a number of early morning commuters who saw me assumed I was insane. That's fine. I'm okay with looking silly when I'm immersed in Roald Dahl's world. It's a fantastic escape every single time. Everyone in his books is out of their minds anyway, and I love it.

Other works that remind me of this book: (Recommended if you enjoyed Going Solo)
- Hayao Miyazaki's anime films Porco Rosso and The Wind Rises
- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's Pilote de guerre
Profile Image for Irina Elena.
672 reviews172 followers
February 6, 2017
Roald Dahl is not just a great writer - he's a wonderful human being, and that's what makes him so damn good at writing too.

He's observant and self-aware, matter-of-fact but wondering, curious and amazed at life, brave and charming in the way he writes and the things he's done, concise and generous and really fucking tall.
I'm pretty much in love with his soul.
Profile Image for Sara.
1,080 reviews362 followers
November 26, 2021
Another Dahl book I distinctly remember reading at school, although only the section about Mambas. I think I probably read a heavily censored version given the level of violence that's actually in this one. I mean, most of it revolves around WWII so I shouldn't have been that surprised. I'm not normally a fan of books about the Great Wars, however Dahl has a way to pull you into a story and make you care for the people he writes about. There's so much death, so much luck involved in his story, it really is a miracle he made it home at all.

My favourite part is still the bit about the snake man and the green mamba though.
Profile Image for Bettie.
9,989 reviews14 followers
July 11, 2016


Description: To celebrate the centenary year of his birth, a full dramatization of Roald Dahl's gripping autobiographical overseas adventure.

Beginning aboard the SS Mantola, Dahl sets sail for Africa at the tender age of 22. He experiences the remnants of colonial British life, filled with eccentric characters, and is thrown into a world as bizarre and surprising as any you will find in his fiction.

"Life is made up of a great number of small incidents and a small number of great ones."

Stationed in Tanzania, Dahl is faced with the excitement of the wild; lions carrying off women in their mouths; fatal green mambas captured by snake men. But his savannah-sun-drenched life is interrupted when World War II erupts. Dahl is ordered to round up the German inhabitants of Dar es Salaam and experiences first-hand the horror of war.

Patrick Malahide provides the voice of Dahl in a colourful adaptation by Lucy Catherine.

Because Egypt was "too dusty"
Profile Image for Peter Tillman.
3,638 reviews329 followers
October 17, 2020
Re-read after many years. What I liked most this time were his recollections of his shipboard trip out from England to Africa, with eccentric "Empire Builder" Englishmen returning to their colonial jobs. Dahl had been hired by Shell Oil to be a company rep in Tanganyika, visiting clients and taking orders for fuel and lubricants. For me, the memorable stories were about wildlife: a huge lion snatched up a native cook's wife, carried her off in his mouth, then released her unharmed. A deadly green mamba went into an Englishman's house. He called the local snake-catcher, another eccentric Englishman, who caught the snake. Sadly, the family dog had already been killed. The sheer abundance of wildlife in those days (the late 1930s).

His flying lessons and time as a fighter pilot, in the doomed and ill-advised British effort to defend Greece. Dahl learned on the job and survived. Most of his comrades-in-arms didn't. The pitifully small British air detachment was largely destroyed.

His writing is wry, vivid and really good. I'm glad to have read the book again. I think he caught the flavor of those times and places really well. Recommended.
Profile Image for Jessica.
Author 31 books5,634 followers
May 30, 2018
My WORD. This was an eye-opening combination of humorous "Englishman abroad" and hair-raising WWII memoir! Starting out with his time, just out of school, as a Shell Oil employee in Dar es Salaam, the story moves right into the outbreak of WWII and Dahl's becoming an RAF pilot, because that is exactly what happened. He was never able to go home, and for three years his only contact with his beloved mother and sisters were the letters that they managed to send each other. Dahl's trademark humor and complete lack of respect for authority make for an interesting look at war in northern Africa, to say the least!

But seriously, though: I don't think God intended Roald Dahl to have a nose. First there's the car accident in Boy. Then there's the plane crash in this one. I'm amazed he looked as good as he did as an older man!
Profile Image for Sima ✨.
131 reviews61 followers
June 17, 2022
except for the war scenes that were boring, that was actually a good memoir, I don't know if I read this book because of dahl or because of his mother? I kinda loved the letters he was sending to his mother <3

Also my 300th read!
Profile Image for James.
427 reviews
November 2, 2017
'Going Solo' is the second instalment of Dahl's autobiography. Whilst interesting, informative and entertaining this may be - it isn't anything like as compelling as the first book covering Dahl's earlier years - 'Boy'. Still definitely worth reading - for all fans of Dahl and anyone with an interest in his pre-literary life.
Profile Image for Swrp.
665 reviews
December 17, 2019
A very well written and an interesting autobiography! A good read, indeed.
Profile Image for Mariah Roze.
1,020 reviews923 followers
February 24, 2017
This is the second autobiography of Roald Dahl's life. The first book was Boy: Tales of Childhood. I suggest reading them in order, but it wouldn't be the worst thing ever if you didn't!
Here is my review on the first book: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

This book starts at the age of 18 (and the first book goes up to the age 18). I really enjoyed this book! BUT, it only focused on him fighting in the war. I was hoping it would cover more than that. The war only lasted for a couple of years... He did get badly hurt and almost die, so that was extremely interesting to read about. It was crazy to think what literature would be like if Roald had died in the war.

However, this book left me with a ton of unanswered questions. Like, what happened when he went home after the war? What did he do for work? How did he start writing, etc? I felt it was only an autobiography about a tiny bit of his life. It was probably the most tragic part of his life, but still only a little bit of it. It made me feel like there was still a lot missing or that there should have been another book after Going Solo.

I suggest this book to anyone that enjoys him as a an author or likes autobiographies.
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
701 reviews29.1k followers
September 16, 2019
I also read this book as as child, but for some reason I forgot to add it until just now when I re-read it. It was as entertaining as ever!
Profile Image for Sarah Grace Grzy.
629 reviews831 followers
June 14, 2017
3.5 stars.

First off, I am once again shocked that this is considered juvenile fiction. I could see this being for the older range of juvenile fiction (15-18), but I would NOT give this to my little siblings (ages 12-14). There was quite a bit of language, which made me uncomfortable. Yeah, I get it; it's real life, but nonetheless.

Anyway, besides that, I really enjoyed this book! It took me 5 or so chapters to really be interested in it, but after that I was hooked. Dahl's slightly humerous and fascinating accounts of a RAF pilot were so interesting. It also portrayed a side of WWII that you don't hear a lot about: the fighting in the Middle East, which was were Dahl was stationed.

Overall, a good read, but would not recommend to anyone under the age of 15 due to the aforementioned langauge, and somewhat mild description of violence.
4 reviews1 follower
March 18, 2018
Great book. I still can't believe that Roald Dahl experienced so many thrilling adventures before he became an author. This book had crash landings to green mamba attacks. If I were him I would have never left his thrilling life. I really loved the middle of the book because that's when the book started to become interesting. 10/10 great book. I recommend it to anyone who likes a thrilling and adventurous book.
Profile Image for Sara Jesus.
1,155 reviews103 followers
February 6, 2017
Um relato emocionante da vida do autor, desde dos seus tempos em África enfrentando cobras e leões até ao se tornar piloto da RAF combatendo contra os alemães.
Ao longo do livro aparece alguma da sua correspondência com a sua mãe e imagens que nos ajudam a nos contextualizar.
Foi uma leitura muito agradável !
Profile Image for Ensiform.
1,337 reviews140 followers
January 1, 2023
I did not read the first part of Dahl's autobiography, Boy, but I somehow managed to not get lost in this one, which starts with Dahl on his way to Tanganyika, East Africa, about to start his new employment with the Royal Dutch Shell Company. Instantly, he introduces us to a bevy of eccentric and colorful characters aboard ship, the dotty old Africa hands that are practically as fantastical as any of his fictional personages. For example, there's the British major who runs laps around the deck in the nude, and is even joined by his similarly unclad wife; a woman who is disgusted by toes; and a man who has very strong opinions on wigs. Then, in Africa, there's a woman carried off by a lion and an ancient snake handler that gets a green mamba out of a house. If these people really were as outlandish as he paints them, it's pretty clear where Dahl got some of his inspiration. Then the war begins, and the book's tone changes slightly. While it never gets overly serious, frivolity does take a back seat to the realities of war and Dahl's experiences as a young, untested officer and then fighter pilot. Dogfights, a crash that more or less ends Dahl's pilot days, beautiful nurses, and all manner of adventure abound.

Dahl tells it all with a placid, detached, yet witty style, treating the marvelous, bizarre, life-threatening, and perilous as if they were quotidian occurrences. He explicitly states that this was a defense mechanism he developed, that in order to get through the insanity and danger he had to treat it calmly and not worry about what might happen. Perhaps this attitude early on is what shaped his inimitable writing style. His prose is so easy and warm and inviting that even if he were describing something boring, he could make it interesting. And there is definitely not a boring line to be found in any of this memoir's pages.
Profile Image for Alastair.
89 reviews19 followers
November 1, 2012
A remarkable account of a remarkable portion of a remarkable life. Rereading this as an adult, I left with a much greater appreciation for my late grandfather's WW2 air force service and the ghastly "waste of life" he, too, was lucky enough to survive.
Profile Image for Andy.
1,457 reviews59 followers
August 5, 2012
Following on from Boy, Going Solo was another tremendously important book to me as a child. Where I could relate to his boyhood tales in some way, the next part of his life was a complete window to another world. Read then it was extraordinary and magical; read now I appreciate it on different levels entirely.

Dahl mentions how lucky he felt to have witnessed the later days of colonial Britain and the people that made the empire. All negative issues relating to Colonialism aside (I'm not going to go there and neither does Dahl) I completely understand what he means. The first half detailing his time in Africa working for the Shell Company is brilliant; a window to a life that no longer exists, with long boat journeys, quirky slightly mad Englishmen (and ladies) abroad, the culture and way of life. It's clearly romanticised; a big adventure, but then it's portrayed with such vigour and love that you can see the appeal to a fresh faced early-20 year old. I would have loved it (and probably still would). As a boy it made me dream of African countryside, baking suns, lions, deadly snakes and a different world.

The second part, detailing his experiences in the war as a pilot is equally enthralling though very different in tone. This was my first exposure to the second world war in any real way (back at primary school in the late-80s - we didn't cover the wars until secondary school and my subsequent interest developed a few years after that) and Dahl makes it all seem jolly exciting. Almost over before he began, his initial adoration of flying is powerfully detailed before his (more truthfully documented) account of the crash that put him in hospital for 6 months.

After, we have a series of raids and dogfights which become somewhat mechanical and repetitive in nature but still hold the interest. I wonder now though, whether his emphasis on a jolly adventure isn't quite as truthful as it could be; he states a few times that looking back he wonders why he wasn't more scared. I wonder the same. The horrors of war only really peak through at times and I suspect this was him writing for a younger audience.

Put together though, both Boy and Going Solo are wonderful books for children to open their eyes to different types of stories and worlds. Dahl's relaxed narrative envisages a cosy fire and glass of whiskey, reminiscent of an afternoon with your granddad. Equally of interest to the adults too.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
3,612 reviews2,580 followers
October 2, 2018
A sequel to Boy, this picks up with Dahl’s journey to East Africa to take up a position with Shell. The journey there is as joyous as anything he’s written: he takes such delight in his fellow passengers’ dotty behavior, like the major and his wife who jog the deck naked; the female coffee farmer who has a horror of fingers and toes; and the cabin mate (a Mr. “U.N. Savory” – literally!) who goes to great lengths to hide his baldness. Once in Tanganyika he has some alarming snake and lion encounters – more of a highlight for me than his lucky escapes during his outrageously outnumbered war pilot experience in Greece, though these are written with just as much élan.
Profile Image for Nada Majdy.
240 reviews341 followers
October 25, 2018
This is probably the most exiting autobiography I've ever read. I feel as if I'm friends now with the author eventhough there's a 73 year gap between us. The book gives you a glimpse of how it was like to live in the British Empire or The many many countries occupied by Britain, I should say. out of the many odd events and characters Roald had seen, the German Jewish/Zionest setteler near Haifa was by far, the creepiest, most twisted and disturbing in the intire book.
Profile Image for Meli.
618 reviews399 followers
February 2, 2016
Qué vidas tan pobres que vivimos en estos tiempos modernos.
Amo leer sobre Dahl, podría hacerlo por siempre.
840 reviews17 followers
February 13, 2019
In 1938, Dahl embarks on a ship to his new job in Africa, experiencing his first, eye opening encounters with British civil servants. Once established in his job, having successfully mastered sufficient Swahili, Dahl travels extensively with vivid descriptions of elephants, giraffes, lions and snakes--big, bad, deadly snakes. Nonetheless, Dahl is having the time of his life, although everyone knows war is coming.

The balance of the book recounts Dahl's enlistment in the RAF, the pitiful training on antiquated equipment, and experiences with ill prepared leaders. One of the latter sends him off with the wrong coordinates, resulting in a crash landing in no-man's land and months in hospital.

Recovered, Dahl is sent to Greece, fighting a rearguard action as the Germans pour soldiers and planes into the country that their Italian allies failed to secure. Dahl clearly disagrees with the decision, which I found odd given his scathing comments on Vichy Frenchmen in Syria. As was apparent in Fortress Malta: An Island Under Siege 1940-43, the British high command was halfhearted in implementing Churchill's policy, as well as ensuring dissemination of the hard learned lessons of the Battle of Britain to fliers in other theaters of war.

The book ends with Dahl's return to England, repatriated due to recurring headaches from his head injuries back in Egypt.

Throughout, Dahl comes across as a genuinely nice man, from the nightly hour spent teaching his servant to read and write English and Swahili through his struggles with the necessity of killing the enemy in war.

My knowledge of Dahl had been limited to a few anecdotes about his unhappy, and shortlived, time as Assistant Air Attache in hard partying D.C., his more successful time with the British Security Coordination, and his marriage to Patricia Neal. I intend to backtrack, to read about his younger years in Boy: Tales of Childhood.
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