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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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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    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.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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.

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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    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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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Sipho
  • Bicester
  • 20-03-18

These stories are good

Would you listen to Behind the Lines again? Why?

The stories are all believable and poignant, and the main character is someone you can believe in and empathise with.

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

The outburst by the older soldier Glen, and his analysis of the race and politics of the country, was superb. Short and punchy and subtle and to the point.

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

No. Not yet.

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

The journey on the train at the beginning is moving, but the journey through the night with the old Indian guy was especially touching and moving, I thought.

Any additional comments?

These stories are really good. I didn’t have to go through the experience described in these tales because at the time that kind of training was reserved for whites only. Thank the Lord, I say. I could identify, though, with the young hero. It must have been tough. It was tough for all young people in South Africa at that time.

But I like the way he tells the stories. He's self-critical, and he is conscious of his privilege and conscious of his own naivety. I like that. I went with him on the journey through these stories. So when he got close to a relationship with a young woman I could empathise with him because I think I understood him by then. He’s a good guy. One of the few.

I read a bit of his crime novels (well, I mean I just dipped into them on his website), and liked them, but I think these stories are even better.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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a set of stories to savour

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

Top of the bunch

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

The night in the watch-tower was great. What an experience.

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

Believable and plausible all the way.

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

Both, to tell truth.

Any additional comments?

I had fun reading and listening to this collection of short stories. I took a little bit of time to get into it, but once I was with it I felt it under my skin. The attitude to the world of a young man like that was well captured. The moments in my youth when I linked experience to music – Beatles, Led Zeppelin, the Stones and Honk-Tonk Women – and the memories of the moon landing, and the memories of tentative flirtation are all still precious to me (so different nowadays, so much more fraught with danger for an innocent young man trying to learn about life). This is a set of short stories to savour.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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

Enchanting short stories

If you could sum up Behind the Lines in three words, what would they be?

True and endearing

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

The falling in love with the girl in "Blood Bond" was delightful.

What about Ian Patrick’s performance did you like?

Easy, no affectation, truthful and honest, along with clear diction and warm tones.

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

Not really. I listened to them on my iPhone whenever I was waiting for a bus or train.

Any additional comments?

Truthful stories well told. The writing is lovely and the narration matches it all the way.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • 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.

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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.

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  • 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).

5 of 5 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
  • 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.


4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • 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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • 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.


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
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • 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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Derek Needham
  • 15-02-18

I thoroughly enjoyed this book

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

This was amazing. I think I might have been in the same bungalow as the author! 1969. Except mine was the July intake and his was January. It was just like this. Just as he describes. Some of those characters: I’ll never forget them. This is so uncanny. I loved the writing. The stories are so heart-felt and the underlying emotions are completely real, as far as I can see. I was going through much the same kind of change of life at the time. The stories are all good but my favorite is the one about the long journey through the night from Pretoria to Durban. I did a radio course, too, and I also had a weekend pass. I was lucky, though, and a few of us got together in a car for the journey. We didn’t have to hitch-hike. But the stories we told each other during that journey! Man! I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was very nice to read.

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

Lord of the Rings comes to mind - trying to survive in a world of vicious men

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

I liked Glenn. He was sharp and real.

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

Yes, for sure. 8 great tales.

Any additional comments?

I was taken back into my past in an amazing way. So real, this.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • 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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Margie Wallace
  • 20-03-18

Delightful Afterword says it all

Would you listen to Behind the Lines again? Why?

Again and again. Truthful, touching, funny, and very, very wise.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The girl in "Blood Bond" really appeals to me. She's feisty and intelligent and loving and wise.

Which scene was your favorite?

The scene where he bleeds on the girl: in the same story: "Blood Bond".

If you could take any character from Behind the Lines out to dinner, who would it be and why?

I'd like to take this poor soldier out and teach him a thing or two about life. I loved him.

Any additional comments?

The delightful Afterword to this collection says it all. Closing with a beautiful rendition of the same sentiment expressed in the last line of "The Great Gatsby", the author puts all the stories in context and it is very touching indeed. All the books we read - whether fiction or non-fiction - can at best claim to be only "substantially" true at best. A good honest reflection of the protagonist's(author's?) personal experience. I thoroughly enjoyed reading these delightful eight stories.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Susan Bradshaw
  • 16-07-18

Most unusual and very entertaining

These stories about growing up and coming of age in boot camp are deliriously funny. I've read a couple of crime thrillers by this writer before but these are an entirely different genre. Witty and gentle and insightful, these stories are utter gems. I read them while standing in line, while sitting on the subway, and while waiting for a friend.

They're unusual, in that the location for these stories is not what a U.S. citizen expects. But the writing is subtle and engaging and the stories are so interesting. Following a young man as he grows up in the course of a short period of time in the military is a lovely idea. But in this case the added urgency is the political context. One's heart goes out to the young guy as he struggles against not only the officers in command but against his own preconceptions and prejudices. He learns in leaps and bounds and it is a joy to behold. Most entertaining, all the way.

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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
  • Goldie
  • 10-07-18

Tender, relaxing and enjoyable stories

These are eight beautifully tender, relaxing and enjoyable short stories, well written with endearing characters. I loved the central protagonist, to whom everything happens until he starts taking control of his life. He grows to maturity under an awful system and it is so enjoyable seeing him learn how to outwit all the baddies.

He deserved the woman at the end. She is a bright and attractive young woman and they should make a wonderful pairing in the future.

I loved this writing. My favorite was the Neil Armstrong one and the "Lesser Works" of Shakespeare. All the stories are well told by the narrator, by the way. He obviously understands all the nuances and I suspect that he is himself the central character.