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Ice Cold in Alex

por Christopher Landon

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995279,181 (4.05)7
The bestselling novel which inspired the Hollywood movie starring John Mills. They served it ice-cold in Alex - pale amber Rheingold beer in tall, dewy glasses. This is the image that haunts Captain George Anson. Stationed in the North African desert just before the fall of Tobruk, an ice-cold lager seems a million miles away. When Anson is detailed to escort two nursing sisters to Alexandria, it looks as though his wish is finally about to come true - a routine assignment, with a lager at the end of it as his reward. But what starts out as a routine journey soon becomes an epic. Forced to drive further and further south in order to escape the advancing German Army, Anson and his small party are soon on the edge of the Great Sand Sea. As they battle with the physical agonies of a six-hundred-mile drive through the desert it soon becomes apparent that each member of the group has his or her own private struggles to resolve. Not only that, but with a Nazi agent in their midst, it is clear that not all of them are going to make it to Alexandria ...… (mais)
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Mostrando 5 de 5
Do you know the next drink I'm going to have? A beer, Tom. A bloody great, tall, ice-cold glass of Rheingold in that little bar off Mahomet Ali Square in Alex... and I'll buy you one, all of you one, because I'm bloody well going to get you there..." (pg. 94).

Christopher Landon's Ice Cold in Alex is a subtly brilliant novel that steadily gets better as it progresses. Initially, I found the prose rather more dense than I like, but as I became more accustomed to it I grew to appreciate it. Set during the North African campaign of World War Two, it follows two British army soldiers, two nurses and a South African soldier as they try to escape the German advance. Forced to cross the desert in their battered ambulance named KATY (who develops, as all great machines do, a personality of her own), their leader George Anson is driven on to their final destination of Alexandria by the promise of an ice-cold beer in a bar there (hence the title).

The character development in this novel is impressive, as all the characters have their own well-executed arcs - Anson in particular. Anson is an alcoholic, war-weary and failing in his command; his morale is, in one memorable phrase, "propped up with gin" (pg. 116). But when the chips are down he rediscovers his confidence and integrity, guiding the party through their trials and vowing not to touch a drop of alcohol until they reach that bar in Alexandria. Landon introduces the notion of 'Zerzura' or the 'wish-oasis' - that "when you are in danger - desperate - there's always something left to discover a little farther on" - whether something physical or just an idea, and that you can attain it "if one has the guts to carry on and look for it." (pg. 173). For Anson, it is the oft-eulogised prospect of an ice-cold beer that provides him with the determination and resolve to carry on. Like all great adventure/crossing the desert stories, whether fact or fiction, this novel is an ode to the perseverence of the human spirit.

Indeed, this tribute to the integrity of the human spirit is also evoked through the novel's subtle anti-war message. Little more than a decade after the end of World War Two, both the book and the film adaptation were notable for not portraying the Germans as evil adversaries. The adversary in Ice Cold in Alex is "the greater enemy" - the harsh nature of the desert (pg. 239), rather than a man who just happens to wear a different uniform. It is a novel about teamwork and redemption, struggle and reward. This gives the novel - which could easily have become stuffy, stiff-upper-lipped pot-boiler fare - a timeless quality which makes it an endearing read even more than 50 years after it was written." ( )
  MikeFutcher | Jun 3, 2016 |
An excellent and engaging read. Five people set off in an old ambulance called Katy to travel from Tobruk to Alexandria. The advancing German army make this increasingly difficult and they have to travel through the Qattara Depression. Once out of Tobruk the action is easy to follow with five main characters and the relationships between these five are well drawn. The desert environment is also a character in the novel and I felt I was there. ( )
  CarolKub | May 29, 2014 |
I had never heard of this book, first published more than fifty years ago, but saw it mentioned online in an interview with Patrick Hennessey the young author of current English bestseller,The Junior Officers' Reading Club (see my review of that book). Apparently the film version of Ice Cold in Alex is a UK classic. Having read the book, I hope to see the film one day. But the book itself is most satisfying. Landon's story-telling skills reminded me very much of another UK author, Nevil Shute. I have read at least a dozen Shute books and enjoyed them all. There is something about his modest, understated way of telling a good story that draws you in and keeps you turning the pages eagerly, wondering what will happen next. Ice Cold in Alex is a story like that. It is a novel of war, but without the violence. The characters are non-violent non-combatant types, simply trying to do their jobs in the best way possible, and suddenly pitted against a much larger and impersonal enemy - the empty wastes and desert of North Africa. Using an omniscient point of view, Landon allows his readers to get inside the heads of all four characters, and makes them all, in the end, extremely human and good people. It is a most satisfying read. The one jarring note here is my discovery that the book is out of print, and not just here, but in the UK. My copy is a 2004 reprint which I was able to find used. The DVD of the film, starring John Mills, however, is still available. It makes me wonder if, in this more visual age, the book will never see print again while the film lives on. If so, more is the pity, for Christopher Landon is a very skillful and masterful story-teller. I recommend this book highly. - Tim Bazzett, author of SOLDIER BOY: AT PLAY IN THE ASA ( )
  TimBazzett | Jan 22, 2010 |
A simple gripping war story - so enthralling I read it at a sitting ( )
  richardgarside | Feb 15, 2009 |
Just before Tobruk fell, a British soldier flees in a military ambulance called Katy. As the Germans close in he along with nurse Diana, Sergeant-Major Pugh and a mysterious South African soldier must travel further south into the desert to get around the Germans to get to Alexandria. Their flight takes them through the Qattara Depression. This was made into an intense film starring John Mills & Anthony Quayle. It is an intense novel too that I could not put down. ( )
  lamour | Feb 11, 2009 |
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The bestselling novel which inspired the Hollywood movie starring John Mills. They served it ice-cold in Alex - pale amber Rheingold beer in tall, dewy glasses. This is the image that haunts Captain George Anson. Stationed in the North African desert just before the fall of Tobruk, an ice-cold lager seems a million miles away. When Anson is detailed to escort two nursing sisters to Alexandria, it looks as though his wish is finally about to come true - a routine assignment, with a lager at the end of it as his reward. But what starts out as a routine journey soon becomes an epic. Forced to drive further and further south in order to escape the advancing German Army, Anson and his small party are soon on the edge of the Great Sand Sea. As they battle with the physical agonies of a six-hundred-mile drive through the desert it soon becomes apparent that each member of the group has his or her own private struggles to resolve. Not only that, but with a Nazi agent in their midst, it is clear that not all of them are going to make it to Alexandria ...

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