From September 1943 to the conclusion of World War II in 1945, Farley Mowat served his Country in Sicily, Italy, and later the Netherlands. He witnessed people and land being ripped apart by constant shelling and trench warfare. In 1953, a full 10 years after he landed on a beach in Sicily, he returned with his wife to revisit the land and see how people recovered following the fighting.
Mowat learned a lot about the war during his visit. His account of the guerrilla warfare at Vercors with their secret army conveys the determination and grotesqueness of wartime. Many times, after revealing his pedigree, Mowat was treated as a hero.
Wit, poignancy, irreverence—all the superlatives used to describe Mowat’s writing are on display here. Aside from the painful descriptions of life during war, Aftermath is an easy book to read.
The book ends in a bird sanctuary where he and his host watch birds from a pill-box bunker.
“Hell of a good idea, this. Turning the sword into the ploughshare, as it were.” [said Farley]
Peter nodded. “Wouldn’t it be grand to do the same with all the military hardware in the world?” 238.
A grand idea, indeed.
—Farley Mowat, Aftermath: Travels in a Post-War World (Toronto, ON: Key Porter, 1995).