Firstly I wish to thank Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me on this Blog Tour for THE MAN WHO LIVED TWICE by David Taylor
* Paperback: 432 pages
* Publisher: Matador (31 Oct. 2017)
* Language: English
* ISBN-10: 1788036131
* ISBN-13: 978-1788036139
The Man Who Lived Twice tells the remarkable story of a nineteenth century British anti-hero. Colonel George St Leger Grenfell was the black sheep in one of Cornwall s most illustrious families. His wild speculations in Paris bankrupted his father and drove his brothers and sisters out of their home. Wanted for fraud in France and mosque desecration in Morocco, Grenfell became a soldier of fortune, a mercenary who fought in innumerable campaigns all over the world, always with conspicuous gallantry. He charged with the Light Brigade at Balaclava, defended the bullet-strewn barricades in the Indian Mutiny, hacked his way through the Chinese Opium War and helped Garibaldi to liberate Italy. Sailing to America to fight in their Civil War, Ole St Lege became a legend to the gullible hillbillies under his command.
As massive armies collided and one hair-raising cavalry charge followed another, this complex man fell in love with a beautiful spy and came to realise that he could no longer run away from his past. In what was to become a spiritual odyssey, Grenfell met the men and women who made, marred and mythologised the American century: the business tycoons and social reformers as well as the Lincoln conspirators and back-shooting gunslingers. Although seemingly indestructible – in one military skirmish he was shot eleven times without serious injury – Grenfell had to endure long years in prison before his luck finally changed. The Man Who Lived Twice describes a personal search for redemption set against the emergence of the United States as a world power.
HERE ARE MY THOUGHTS AND REVIEW
Oh my this is just epic in every sense of the word. 432 pages that cover major historical events with vivid in-depth descriptions of facts up to the time when fiction takes over because the historical side just doesn’t know what happened next. In 19th Century Cornwall Colonel George St Leger Grenfell was a bit of a lad, to say the least. He not only ruined his own good name in England and Europe but also that of his entire family before taking himself off to fight for the highest bidder as a mercenary all over the world. Got to give credit where its due he fought in some mighty memorable campaigns. I was in my element having read about some of these great battles in detail over the years and the obvious research that the author had conducted was very evident. Eventually this now so what of a hero headed to America to fight on in the raging civil war.
St. Leger Grenfell was a colourful rogue that always seemed to be in the thick of massive historical happenings even when he was unaware of it. One such time was to be his downfall resulting in him being imprisoned. Now you may think that the descriptions of the battles which he fought in would be the worst that it could get but whoa the conditions of the prison and despair reached even greater depths.
There are some amazing characters in this book, in fact a lot of them but you never get lost as to who is who as they all belong to certain time lines in the story. I was just as engrossed in the fictional continuation of the story and would really love to think that the author may have captured what became of him although I doubt it.
This is a super book, brilliant research of all the eras that the story takes place in. It is only the main character which could be the addition in the later part of the story, the history side is factual for that time. Very colourful account and highly recommended.
HERE IS A LITTLE ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I came to write novels in a roundabout kind of way. After a career in print, radio and television journalism which took in writing for the Guardian, reporting for Panorama, presenting World in Action and running BBC Features, I set up an independent company to make current affairs and adventure programming. By then, I had written my first book, ‘Web of Corruption’, a factual account of the Poulson scandal. Now, at last, I had time to pursue one of my hobbies, sixteenth century cryptography and one day in Lambeth Palace Library I came across a complex number code that had never been deciphered. It appeared in a report written by a master spy called Anthony Standen. Well, I managed to crack Standen’s code and was rewarded with juicy details of Queen Elizabeth’s love affair with the Earl of Essex. Better yet, the cipher created a trail that led all the way to William Shakespeare. Initial thoughts of a factual publication were shattered by the thought that anything linking Shakespeare to cipher would be laughed out of court and so I turned to fiction writing. I had never written a novel and found it hard going. It required a different skill set to journalism. You
have to construct a novel rather like an engineering project while thinking in terms of crisis, climax and resolution. But in the process of learning this strange art, I was bitten by the writing bug. Hence, ‘The Man Who Lived Twice’ in which the central character is a courageous but deeply flawed nineteenth century Cornish mercenary who fought in wars on four different continents. George St Leger Grenfell helped the Moors bombard the French in Tangier, engaged in a private war against the Riff pirates on the Barbary Coast, joined the Turkish Army but still managed to charge with the Light Brigade in the Crimea, defended the bullet-strewn barricades in the Indian Mutiny, hacked his way through the Opium War in China and joined Garibaldi in liberating Italy, before voyaging to America to enlist in the Confederate Army where he became the highest ranked British officer in their Civil War. And all this from a man who had been disowned by his family after bankrupting his father and committing fraud in France and mosque desecration in Morocco. You might imagine that I found this perfect anti-hero in Penzance, where his family of tin smelters and bankers had an estate, but that wasn’t the case. I discovered Grenfell four thousand miles away while snorkelling with my wife in the Gulf of Mexico. Our search for tropical fish and sponges took us to a coral atoll called Garden Key which consisted almost entirely of a huge brick fortress. Fort Jefferson had never served a military purpose but it did become a prison at the end of the American Civil War. So we found ourselves in a damp cell being lectured on the Lincoln conspirators who had been incarcerated there. We heard all about Dr Samuel Mudd, the country doctor who had had the misfortune of setting John Wilkes Booth’s broken leg hours after he’d assassinated President Lincoln. Mudd, it transpired, had been something of a hero in Fort Jefferson, nursing the garrison through a yellow fever epidemic after their surgeon died. He had been helped in this charitable work, we were told, by a cellmate, an English spy called Grenfell. Now that captured my attention, particularly when I discovered that he came from my own county of Cornwall. The writing duly followed.
You Tube Book Trailer : https://youtu.be/HLShVNuuHXw
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