Review: “Mine Were of Trouble” by Peter Kemp

Fascinating memoir of a conflict too many of us know too little about

Originally published in 1957, “Mine Were of Trouble” is the account of Englishman Peter Kemp who participated in the Spanish Civil War on the side of the Nationalists.

Kemp's storytelling is easygoing, easy to follow. A lot of detail and background are packed into a fast moving narrative. This speaks to the economy of Kemp's style.

Kemp gives some astounding accounts with a good deal of understatement. This is something that struck me in the last book I read on war, the original English translation of “The Storm of Steel” by Ernst Jünger, also published by Mystery Grove. Kemp and Jünger both can tell of startling, shocking, terrifying, or heartbreaking events as calmly as one might tell of their quiet weekend. Perhaps it is the way of soldiers, or of men of the early 20th century.

“Mine Were of Trouble” tells not only of battles and soldiery, but of time spent away from the front, including some gutsy border crossings, some fun had resting up before and between actions, and two hardcore surgeries.

If you're interested in this conflict or narratives like it, I recommend “Mine Were of Trouble.” It's well written and moves quickly. There's no case-pleading, preaching or hectoring, just engaging memoir and solid reporting.

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