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Behind the Lines

Narrated by: Ian Patrick
Length: 1 hr and 59 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (17 ratings)

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Summary

These eight short stories are works of fiction but reflect the author's real personal experiences while undergoing compulsory military training during his youth in apartheid South Africa. The stories are all based on real events but the characters are the products of creative imagination, however rooted in reality they might be. Listeners will enjoy a range of humour and unusual incidents - frequently hilarious - along with perceptive insights into the trials and tribulations faced by a young man seeking an identity in a confusing world of military discipline and rigid conformity.

©2017 Ian Patrick (P)2017 Ian Patrick

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Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

An intelligent and very entertaining set of memori

Where does Behind the Lines rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

First in line, for sure.

What other book might you compare Behind the Lines to, and why?

Short stories by Herman Charles Bosman, because they have the same intelligent humour behind them, and always end with such a nice simple sentence.

What about Ian Patrick’s performance did you like?

He reads well and his diction is good and his voice is warm and cosy.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Both. My parents listened to these stories with me. They come from the same era, and knew people who went through experiences like this. They loved the stories. We all laughed at the poor young guy’s mistakes and misunderstandings, his naivety and his immaturity, but we loved it as he came to awareness and eventually got the better of the system.

Any additional comments?

This was an intelligent and very entertaining set of memories, casting lots of light on an awful period in South African history. The final section, where the author reflects on how he came to write the stories, is very good. I loved the echo, at the very end, from Scott Fitzgerald, too. That was a lovely moment.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Charming, utterly charming

These lovely little stories are charming. I got to know the young man so well, and could feel his pain and his shyness and - in the final section - his love and humanity. These are beautifully written stories and well told by the narrator, with lovely emotional nuances and subtle nods at the listener.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Literate and subtle

Very good stories, these. Nice and compact and busting at the seams with honesty and humility. The leading man is a gem. Clumsy and inarticulate and filled with self-doubt, he grows over the course of these stories into something approaching a mature young man who will make good in a troubled society. The literate and subtle genuflections to history and real time are most impressive. It's a slim volume, but by no means in respect of quality. Interesting writer, this. I think I'll sample his crime thriller, too, on the basis of this booklet and the audiobook.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Well done and very insightful

Would you consider the audio edition of Behind the Lines to be better than the print version?

The audio version is particularly enjoyable because the author himself reads, and he obviously brings to the task a lovely familiarity with the characters. In fact, he paints them with gentle loving strokes and it makes the experience much more enjoyable for the reader/listener. There are some perceptive social and political observations, but so subtly conveyed that one is never conscious of any point of view being foisted upon us.

What did you like best about this story?

I’ve read some of this author’s other books, which I enjoyed, and was expecting another crime thriller. Surprise. This was so different and very, very good. I thoroughly enjoyed these tales of a young man growing up under awful circumstances.

Have you listened to any of Ian Patrick’s other performances? How does this one compare?

These are different and very enjoyable, but different genre.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Very touching in parts. Lots of laughter.

Any additional comments?

The character of Glen in the second story (the one called “Basic Training”, I think) is the only character throughout the entire collection of eight stories that engages in a political discussion, but it is so well done and very insightful. This is a book to enjoy more than once.

Oh, yes, and the afterword is a really beautiful piece, talking more generally about writing, truth, and fiction.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Lovely passage through early life

This is a lovely journey through the formative period of this young man's life. We see him grow from awkward teenager to mature young man, growing in intelligence and maturity through the passage of the short stories. They are all gems. Subtle and nuanced and clever.

I love the fact that he meets his match in a bright young woman who will take both him and herself very far in life.

A really enjoyable set of stories.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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I cherish these stories

What made the experience of listening to Behind the Lines the most enjoyable?

I listened to these eight stories in one journey through ice and snow. Being stranded at a standstill in the car, all alone, while someone tries to sort out the traffic, is not pleasant. But luckily I had these stories on audio. I sat there in the dark laughing away and shedding a tear or two. This was because my brother, no longer with us, went through exactly this experience in the army. I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't know the author, or was in the same barracks with him, because he told me stories exactly like these ones. The same kinds of characters. The same kinds of awful corporals and sergeants and captains bullying the soldiers. But most of all I loved the fact that this young man - who could have been my brother - grew up to maturity and shed all the insecurities as he grew to adulthood. I cherish these stories and will listen to them many times over.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Behind the Lines?

The outburst by the man called Glen was wonderful. Politically wise and intelligent and not afraid to spoeak up against awful people.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

In "Bloodbond" the scene with the new girlfriend in the hospital was hilarious and very touching.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

That very same scene was moving and funny all at once.

Any additional comments?

So good. Highly recommended.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Hardy
  • Tyne and Wear
  • 04-07-18

Interesting different genre for this author

I liked this a lot. I've read this author's crime thrillers (more like police procedurals tinged with thriller, that is), and liked them a great deal. The writing is very good, but the audible versions of his work are what really intrigue me. I had mixed feelings about the audible version of his " Mashego File" because the narrator in that case seemed to be a second-language speaker (probably Zulu, but I don't really know) and then I stuck with it and it became really moving and authentic, and the second-language thing became really important for the whole experience.

In this case the voice - the author's own - suits these stories perfectly and it is all done with obvious experience of the characters and situations - some of them hilarious, others tender and gentle - which lends everything a real air of believability. Very enjoyable, I must say.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Clever stories well told with lots of humour

Would you listen to Behind the Lines again? Why?

This was a pleasure. Clever stories, well told, with lots of humour. But serious. Very serious. All about coming of age and dealing with one’s insecurities, the inarticulacy of youth, the political immaturity and the gradual awakening.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The old Indian market gardener. What a nice journey that was through the night where he gets an education from the old man.

What about Ian Patrick’s performance did you like?

No nonsense with the voice. He tells it easily and clearly with no tricks.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Marching on.

Any additional comments?

Beautiful. I enjoyed these stories so much.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Warm and insightful

Very amusing and well written. Intriguing characters and lots of warmth. Intelligent insights. I could identify with all of these people, and ended up understanding a lot more about military training under boot-camp conditions. Nice clear voice with the correct accents, too.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Very touching and amusing stories

What made the experience of listening to Behind the Lines the most enjoyable?

Honest and heart-felt stories that are gentle, humorous and touching.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The protagonist is the central character throughout and is beautifully conceived. Clumsy and inarticulate but ultimately human and wise.

Have you listened to any of Ian Patrick’s other performances? How does this one compare?

No. Never heard him narrate. This is well done.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The moment with the man Glen in the hospital was touching.

Any additional comments?

What a period in history this was. Very well observed.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for Hennie du Bois
  • Hennie du Bois
  • 03-01-18

A delightful collection

Would you consider the audio edition of Behind the Lines to be better than the print version?

Not sure. They are both great. I've just listened to the audiobook today. I read the kindle version some time ago. It certainly bears out a second reading. The stories are so clever and subtle and amusing.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Behind the Lines?

To tell the truth, the Afterword is amazing. What a fine piece of writing that is. The stories are all compelling, too, but when one reads that Afterword everything takes on even more poignancy and meaning. But all the stories were good. Maybe the best moment is when he takes the long journey through the night and gets an education from a sharp old market gardener as they drive down to Durban.

What about Ian Patrick’s performance did you like?

Very lucid and easy and cosy.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Bad soldier, good guy.

Any additional comments?

My father served in this same cohort of soldiers at the time this all takes place. He says it is completely accurate in every detail. He loved it, especially the audio version (he's read the book three or four times already and has just listened to the audio).

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Alan Kincaid
  • Alan Kincaid
  • 19-01-18

These are good stories, well written

Where does Behind the Lines rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Very good indeed. First rate.

What other book might you compare Behind the Lines to and why?

Lord of the Flies: about growing up and coming of age in trying circumstances.

What about Ian Patrick’s performance did you like?

Nice and easy narration, no fuss, just comfortable and clear.

If you could rename Behind the Lines, what would you call it?

Between the lines and behind the dialogue.

Any additional comments?

These short pieces are very good. I read the book then got the audio version and listened to the writer reading his own work. It was very good to hear him delve into the characters and the accents and feelings, etc. The experience of shutting one’s eyes and just letting the stories unfold was a good one for me. I enjoyed most of all the scene in the guard tower with the young soldier wondering what he was doing there while at that very moment Neil Armstrong was stepping on the moon and Led Zeppelin were hammering out songs at a gig in the USA and the sounds of the Beatles and others were permeating the atmosphere. That was cool. These are good stories, well written.


6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for Louise Truter
  • Louise Truter
  • 11-01-18

Delightful stories

Would you consider the audio edition of Behind the Lines to be better than the print version?

Not really: they are both good. The narrator brinbgs a nice intimacy to the stories because he seems to know them all so well.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Behind the Lines?

The "Blood Bond" story about the hew gorlfriend was lovely. I listened to it a few times.

Which scene was your favorite?

The scene where the girl cuts her hand and he looks at her face, seeming to really see her properly for the first time, is really good. True love, Ta-DAAA!

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, even though the stories are all individual stories, they make for a lovely whole.

Any additional comments?

I might try the author's other books, but I'm not really into crime as much as this kind of light touch humour. This was right up my street.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Suzette Lampker
  • Suzette Lampker
  • 22-01-18

Such nice stories, such a nice young man

Where does Behind the Lines rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Top of the range

What was one of the most memorable moments of Behind the Lines?

I’m so pleased he found a soul-make partner at the end in “Blood Bond”. She is just the type of woman for him.

Which scene was your favorite?

The scene in the guard tower with the moon landing taking place and the poor young man thinking about his existence. Very poignant.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Love, life and torture

Any additional comments?

I didn’t expect these stories to be linked to one another in the way that they are. In fact, they could all constitute a really nice short novel about life growing up in the army. The central character is lovable. A nice young man coming to terms with his own immaturity and his own fears and prejudices. A lovely honest set of reflections. A lovely set of reflections of life while growing up.


5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for Basil v Rensburg
  • Basil v Rensburg
  • 20-01-18

Short, sharp and sweet tales

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Definitely. Most enjoyable short tales, very entertaining

What was one of the most memorable moments of Behind the Lines?

I thoroughly enjoyed them once I got to the second story. Not that the first one was deficient in any way: in fact, when I re-read (and listened again to) that one after having read the others, it emerged as probably the best of them all. Very touching, very moving, in fact.

Which character – as performed by Ian Patrick – was your favorite?

The young protagonist and his girlfriend in "Blood Bond" are both great.

If you could rename Behind the Lines, what would you call it?

Fun, love and training for war.

Any additional comments?

This was unexpected. The cover led me to believe the stories would be more about action on the front line. But then the brilliant afterword (which I read first) told me more. Then I realised: the title is everything about “behind the lines” – what the words on the page don’t tell you. Very clever. The stories are all very funny in some way, and all of them are also very serious. I have seldom enjoyed short stories as much as these. Well, OK, there’s always Herman Charlie Bosman, of course, who’s king. But these were damn good.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for Carmen Dustoff
  • Carmen Dustoff
  • 18-03-19

Just lovely

These were so lovely. Soft and gentle and amusing stories about a poor young man who doesn't know where or what he is until he works out how to survive predatory bullies, army corporals, and stuffy girlfriends and their families. I love this writing. So clever and witty and gentle and empathetic.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Franz Greig
  • Franz Greig
  • 15-01-19

Very different and very entertaining

This was very good. Very different and in a class of its own. The adventures of this young man in a very difficult environment are both depressing and uplifting, as he comes to maturity, growing in stature with every step.

The characters are well drawn and the wit is subtle and entertaining.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for Friederich Blum
  • Friederich Blum
  • 22-11-18

Gentle and lovable stories well told

I was hugely impressed with this set of short stories. My father told me stories just like these about his compulsory military training (he also came from Greytown in South Africa, like me, and was conscripted into the same training as is described in these stories). The main character is a confused, ignorant, lovely, warm, empathetic creature. You can't help getting to like him as he discovers himself and the world around him. The woman who looks after him at the end is just the partner he needs, I think.

I loved the sidelong glances at Led Zeppelin, the moon landing, Woodstock, apartheid, and all of that. It is all done with such a lovely lightness of touch. The afterword to the collection (or the foreword, I suppose) is a little gem. What a nice subtle reflection on the election that gripped the world's imagination.

The author narrates his own stories. He is good, but a bit rushed in parts. But his writing is just right on the nail. Most entertaining.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Roxanne Dublots
  • Roxanne Dublots
  • 17-10-18

Young man beats the system

I loved these stories. I had read and listened to a crime thriller by this author but this was very different and most amusing. The young man, doing army training, beats the system that oppresses him. Lovely stories that are believable and most delicately told. Really most enjoyable to listen to. Lots of lovely history in it, too, along with Apollo to the moon and Led Zeppelin, and all that one associates with the summer of love in 1969.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for Themba Bhekizulu
  • Themba Bhekizulu
  • 14-04-18

Great stories from a pivotal moment in history

What made the experience of listening to Behind the Lines the most enjoyable?

I pity the poor whiteys who had to do military training in South Africa at this time. These tales tell a truthful story with very believable characters. They are told with humility and compassion.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The guy called Glen was great. He was intelligent and saw through all the apartheid baloney.

What does Ian Patrick bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

This was really good to listen to. He told the story easily and comfortably and it was a pleasure to listen to.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The final bonding with the blood-bond girlfriend was great.

Any additional comments?

These are lovely stories, short and punchy and to the point. Well written, with excellent characters.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful