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Corners of My Mind
By Peter Macdonald

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Corners of My Mind
By Peter Macdonald
Ulverscroft Large Print, (2002)
ISBN: 0-7089-4654-2
Genre: Autobiography

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - September 13, 2002

Peter Macdonald served in the British Army for thirty-two years, leaving the service as a Brigadier. An ordnance specialist, Macdonald's military career was one that was punctuated with numerous episodes of extreme danger and high adventure. Macdonald was drafted into the army in 1946, when he was still a fresh faced eighteen-year-old. Much to his surprise, Macdonald found that he was a natural soldier, a fact that was quickly apparent to those above him and he was sent off to officer's training school.

Macdonald's autobiography, Corners of My Mind chronicles his life from his birth in Peru, and how he happened to be born there, up through his retirement from the Army. Throughout, Macdonald provides us with the intimate details of his life. These details include the difficulties he encountered in his married life, and the events surrounding the death of his older brother who died while a POW during World War II. Macdonald also goes into detail regarding his early education, contrasting this with the disciplined training he received in the army.

Macdonald served on bases throughout the world during his service, including tours of duty in Cyprus, Germany, Ireland, and with NATO. His assignments ranged from the disposal of old ammunition to the defusing of bombs. This work was dangerous, and many of Macdonald's colleagues lost their lives trying to defuse explosive devices. Many others fell at the hands of terrorists. Macdonald's expertise in ordnance also served as an entry into some seemingly unrelated endeavors, such as investigating an airplane crash.

Corners of My Mind is a fascinating book, both as an insightful look at one man's life, but also as a chronicle of an often overlooked aspect of military history. During the 1950's and 60's, our attention was myopically focused on the conflicts in Korea and Vietnam. Consequently, it is easy to overlook other aspects of this tumultuous period when the Cold War was perhaps at its hottest and the specter of nuclear war hung over us all. As a military leader, Macdonald was well aware of this danger, and some of the military exercises conducted to prepare for the possibility of nuclear war are chronicled in this book.

Macdonald writes in a clear, friendly style that is a pleasure to read. There is some harsh language (swearing) and some violence in the text. However, there is not overly much of either, and what there is serves to add a sense of realism to the narrative. After leaving the army, Macdonald embarked upon a second career as a writer. In addition to his autobiography, he has authored several works of fiction and nonfiction.

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