Author: Keggie Carew

Category: Biographies & Memoirs

Regular price: $9.87

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Deal starts: February 20, 2024

Deal ends: February 20, 2024


As her father’s memory fails, a daughter explores his military past: “Part family memoir, part history book . . . Compelling and moving from start to finish” (Financial Times).   One of the San Francisco Chronicle’s Ten Best Books of the Year   For most of Keggie Carew’s life, she was kept at arm’s length from her father’s personal history. But when she is invited to join him for the sixtieth anniversary of the Jedburghs—an elite special operations unit that was the first collaboration between the American and British Secret Services during World War II—a new door opens in their relationship. As dementia begins to stake a claim over Tom Carew’s memory, Keggie embarks on a quest to unravel his story, and soon finds herself in a far more consuming place than she bargained for.   Tom Carew was a maverick, a left-handed stutterer, a law unto himself. As a Jedburgh he parachuted behind enemy lines to raise guerrilla resistance first against the Germans in France, then against the Japanese in Southeast Asia, where he won the nickname “Lawrence of Burma.” But his wartime exploits were only the beginning. A winner of the Costa Book Award, Dadland takes us on a journey through peace and war and shady corners of twentieth-century politics; though the author’s English childhood and the breakdown of her family, and into the mysterious realm of memory.   “Brings to mind Helen MacDonald’s H is for Hawk in the way it soars off in surprising directions, teaches you things you didn’t know, and ambushes your emotions.” ?NPR   “Astonishing . . . Mixes intimate memoir, biography, history and detective story: this is a shape-shifting hybrid that meditates on the nature of time and identity . . . Tom Carew was a razzle-dazzle character, larger than life and anarchically self-invented . . . For all its vigor and comic zest, Dadland is a careful and tender discovery that patiently circles around a man who spent his life mythologizing and running away from himself.” ?The Observer

Review Praise for Dadland:Named a San Francisco Chronicle top 10 book of the year and a best book of the year by NPR’s Book ConciergeWinner of the Costa Book Award for Biography#1 nonfiction bestseller in the UKAn Amazon Best Book of the Month in Biographies & Memoirs"Oh this book. Beautiful and fierce and brave. Memory and war and family and loss and, well, wow."—Helen Macdonald, author of H Is For Hawk"Carew's memoir about her father follows a winding, extraordinary path through the thickets of dementia and the jungles of Burma—a thrilling, bloody, educative history of Churchill's Special Operations Executive (AKA the Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare) in the second world war combined ingeniously with a tender, moving, funny portrait of the author's father."—Nick Hornby, Observer (UK), "best holiday reads 2017"—Keggie Carew dives deep into her father's world in this extraordinary blend of personal memoir, biography, and World War II military history . . . Dadland brings to mind Helen MacDonald's H is for Hawk in the way it soars off in surprising directions, teaches you things you didn't know, and ambushes your emotions. It's a similarly fierce and unconventional book that defies categorization to explore mortality, loss, life decisions and influences through a daughter's intense bond with her father."—Heller McAlpin,"The Dadland of Keggie Carew's first book is a vast expanse indeed . . . To understand his military history required archival deepdiving, while plumbing the (relatively) peaceful years involved sifting through diaries and letters, sorting out generations of mismatched marriages (temperament, class), and engaging in capacious acts of empathy and imagination . . . Part memoir, part biography, part military history, Dadland is also a lovingly unconventional elegy for a generation."—Dawn Raffel, San Francisco Chronicle"[A] superb book."—Sunday Times (UK)"A very moving story, very mature, very visual book. A stand out, standalone piece of work because it was so unusual. For me it had the magic ingredient: It had beautiful prose, beautiful, smooth, readable, accessible prose and it was utterly hilarious. The most unconventional biography I have ever read."—Mary Loudon, Judge of Costa Award for Biography 2016"A brilliant, bittersweet biography."—Cornelia Parker, Observer (UK), "best holiday reads 2017""An astonishingly moving story: how, as she slowly lost her father to dementia, a writer pieced together the awesome truth about his recklessly daring wartime exploits behind enemy lines."—Daily Mail (UK)"Part military history and part personal memoir . . . It's an exorcism, ghost-hunt, and swim through the archipelago of her father's shattered self . . . The shuttle between multiple timeframes and voices suits a character as vivid and layered as Tom Carew: a master of deception, a fearless charmer more at ease in war than in peacetime, impervious to pain."—Times Literary Supplement (UK)"We all adored this hilarious and heartbreaking book—you'll be so glad you read it."—Costa Biography Award judges"Celebrated as 'Lawrence of Burma' and 'the Mad Irishman,' Carew was the youngest officer ever to be awarded a Distinguished Service Order . . . This chiaroscuro of dad-as-hero and dad-in-decline patterns a book which is as much about love and family as allies v axis . . . It's a book about a singular man. Even near the end of his life, Tom managed to charm and astonish . . . [An] original, moving book."—Guardian (UK)—Dadland is a rare amalgam: It's a memoir of the days her father Tom Carew spent as one of the dashing, daring "Jedburghs" during World War II . . . The author pieces together a jooint memoir/biography that tugs at the heartstrings even as it describes real feats of bravery, such as Tom's parachuting into Occupied France with a tiny team to defy Nazis, and his incredible work in trying to maintain a free Burma."—Literary Hub, "14 Books to Read This March""Energetic. . . Carew's vivid narrative takes readers briskly through the horrors and excitement of war, portraying Tom as a vigorous, charismatic soldier fully in his element . . . Carew's evocative blend of biography and memoir maintains a warmly clear-eyed tone while taking the full measure of dysfunctional and disappointed lives . . . A scintillating portrait of Britain's Greatest Generation at war and uneasy peace."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)"One of the most vivid books I have ever read about the cut and thrust of family life, its best of times and its worst of times . . . A rich and stunning achievement, a feat of imagination that sews together many parallel true stories. Above all, it is a labour of shining daughterly love."—Sunday Express (UK)"Dazzling . . . An unforgettable portrait of a maverick father who is in the process of forgetting everything, including the exploits for which he was awarded a Croix de Guerre. But it's so much more besides: a detective story, a family history, a thrilling tale of derring-do, and the most distinctive and affecting memoir I've read since H Is for Hawk."—Bookseller (UK), "Book of the Month""A clear-eyed portrait of a man caught in the vortex of his own enigma."—Costa Book Awards shortlist citationBR>"Dadland is part family memoir, part history book, and is compelling and moving from start to finish . . . [Keggie Carew] hasn't just uncovered the facts about her father's war; she's inhabited it imaginatively with him, for him, and has recorded it vividly as his own grip on memory wavers and fails . . . Carew's funny, fascinating and unflinching tribute to her father is a portrait of a complex man: not just a war hero but a flawed husband; not just a Jedburgh but her incorrigible and much-missed dad."—Financial Times "An astonishing biography . . . Dadland mixes intimate memoir, biography, history and detective story: this is a shape-shifting hybrid that meditates on the nature of time and identity . . . Tom Carew was a razzle-dazzle character, larger than life and anarchically self-invented . . . For all its vigour and comic zest, Dadland is a careful and tender discovery that patiently circles around a man who spent his life mythologizing and running away from himself."—Observer (UK)"Outstandingly good."—Esquire (UK)"Moving . . . Dadland is a poignant look at a child's changing perspective on her father's life, a journey many children take as their parents grow older."—BookPage"A moving memoir-cum-biography."—Irish Times (UK)"An intoxicating blend of history, memoir and biography."—BBC Radio Bristol"In Dadland, [Keggie Carew] tells [her father's] story . . . with poignancy and humour."—Vogue (UK)"How lovely to discover a book that makes one seize friends by the lapels and implore them, 'Read this' . . . On one level, Keggie Carew's Dadland is a wartime adventure story. On another, it is an investigative memoir, a history of how one family's fortunes can be sunk. But above all it is a portrait of a loveable, charming, mischievous old rascal named Tom Carew . . . [A] wonderful book."—Literary Review (UK)"I was so absorbed and moved by Dadland I haven't been able to read anything else. It is beautifully written—deft and funny and so tender—but I have also come away knowing more about history, more about dementia, more about men, more about daughters, more about love, family, sheds, diarr Book Description also available from Penguin Random House Audio Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved. DadlandBy Keggie CarewGrove Atlantic, Inc.Copyright © 2016 Keggie CarewAll rights reserved.ISBN: 978-0-8021-2514-9ContentsMap of Basil Area, Map of Burma, Family Tree, Preface, PART 1 Dad is a Spy and Mum is a Pakistani, PART 2 Surprise, Kill and Vanish, PART 3 Your Father is a Bastard, PART 4 The Dense Mixed What?, PART 5 The Talented Mr Ripley, PART 6 The Last Tango, PART 7 Ground Control, PART 8 To Major Tom, PART 9 But, Daddy, That's Not Your Name, Afterwords, Glossary, Notes, Bibliography, List of Illustrations, Acknowledgements, CHAPTER 1My dad is cutting a hole in a two-litre plastic milk bottle. The hole is opposite the handle so he can pee into it and hold it at the same time. It's his favourite invention. For now. He's making one for me and won't be persuaded otherwise. He has them all over the house in case he gets caught short. Still very practical, then. Going through his pockets for a penknife I find a note. It says, My name is Tom Carew, but I have forgotten yours. He has been giving this note to everyone.I'm showing Dad a picture of Mum. I often do this when he comes to stay. The photograph of Mum sits on the windowsill in a silver frame next to a photograph of him. A posthumous needle at my stepmother.`What relationship with that woman?' Dad asks.`Your wife,' I tell him. `My mother. Jane.'`Really?'`Yes.'`Incredible!'`Yes.'`I can see it now.' His voice is a little wistful.`Good.'`Incredible ...' His voice trails off; he is holding the photograph, `Is that my wife?'`Yes. She was,' I tell him. `Your first wife.' Actually she was his second but we won't go back that far. Nor do we mention the third.`Incredible,' he says. `Is it really? What's her name?'`Jane,' I say.`I've drifted,' he says. `Haven't I?'`Yes, Dad,' I laugh, `you certainly have.'The photograph is a black-and-white picture he took in 1953, just after they were married and went to live in Gibraltar, where he was stationed, and where my elder brother, Patrick, and I were born. Mum, her salty loose curls, smiling, a ripple of sea behind.`What's her name?' he asks again.`Jane.'`She's very attractive,' he says.`Yes, she is.'A glint ignites both eyes, `So how can that be your mother?' Touché. He's in a good mood. But what he far prefers is photos of himself.`You're an egomaniac, Dad.'`A what?'`E-go-ma-ni-ac,' I enunciate slowly.Jonathan, my husband, looks askance. Tries to clip me with his eye.`Hego-nami-hat?' Dad says.I deal out a photograph of him in dashing army uniform.`Who's that?' he asks.`Who do you think?'`Is that me?'`Yup.'`GO ON!' he chides. He's enjoying himself. Centre of attention again. `How old am I there?'`Twenty. Twenty-one.'`No! How old am I now?'`Ninety-seven,' I lie.`I'm not.'`You are.'`Really?'`Really.'`I can't be.'`Eighty-seven then.'`Eighty-seven?'`I promise.'He looks at me as if I've gone mad.Dad loves it here. Which has its problems. He doesn't want to go home. He won't sleep in a room but stays in a shed in the garden with his two dogs who sleep with him, and who are allowed to do anything they want. Jonathan calls the little one Psycho Dog. It guards things. When Dad tries to get into bed it sits bang in the centre of his pillow then growls and spits if you try to move him off. In the morning I invariably find Dad at the bottom of the bed, no bedclothes, foetally curled, trying to keep warm, with the dogs stretched out slap in the middle. Yet he won't have it any other way. Dad is an easy guest, and, at the same time, a very high-maintenance one. He thinks we are always in the garden in the sun. Having drinks. Picking veg. Talking about him. He feels useful here. And all he wants is jobs. Seven a.m.: `Give me a job.' From dawn till dusk every day: `What's my next job?' They are getting harder to find. Something he'll succeed at, something that doesn't bore him, something that will give him a sense of achievement at the end. If possible, something where he can invent a better way of doing it — with a piece of string, a bungy-clip, or No More Nails, which he applies with his hands straight from the nozzle and then wipes all over my fleece, which he is wearing because, just before he came, he unpacked all his clothes and brought three Mars bars and two rolls of kitchen towel instead. Any job with his penknife is popular, such as cleaning lichen off the garden chairs. That lasts an hour. But penknife jobs are high risk, however much he likes them, because he gets carried away: scrape, scrape, cut, cut, gouge, gouge. Washing seed trays is safe, if dull, but he can put them all over the lawn to dry, and this, pleasurably, looks like a lot of work. There should be A Book of Jobs for the demented, for I am running low. Mentally, Dad is shot; physically, he's indestructible. Nothing tires him. He can touch his toes. Pain doesn't affect him. He has never had anaesthetic at the dentist, and still does his own first aid. Apart from yesterday, when he came back from trimming the hedge and was compelled to ask for a plaster. I reeled back in horror at the saucer-sized wound in the palm of his hand where a length of old Sellotape had worn away revealing a shiny scarlet swathe of no-skin.`You can't use secateurs with a wound like that! Why didn't you tell me?'`Don't be ridiculous!'Dad has lost the word for an orange (the soft `o'), and for me, but not fastidious or scrumptious, and other slightly old-fashioned words. While I don't seem to have a gender, I do have an `industry' — which he wants to join (run, more like). His business and my business could work together.`But I don't have a business, Dad.'`Not business. You know. Your thing. Your ... your industry. Your ... I could be in production for you.'He is looking at me hopefully.But all I can give him is a sigh.I place another photograph in his hand.`Who's that?' he asks.`Who do you think?'It was taken in 1963. I know this because of the snowman — the infamous freeze of '63. I point to the tall man in the brick-red canvas sailing smock, smoking a pipe.`You,' I say.`No!'`Yes, it is.'`What, the man with the pipe?'`Yes,' I point. `There's Mum with Nicky, there's Patrick in the middle, and that's me.'`No!' Then his voice goes nostalgic. `You were sweet once.' In five minutes he will have forgotten and we can do it all again.`How old am I?' he asks.`You're eighty-seven, Dad.'He looks downcast.`I never thought I'd go bonkers,' he says.`You've only lost your memory, but you've got everything else. Look at you. You can still touch your toes. You're not an old crock!'`Lucky to have no memory,' he says.I look at him quizzically.`I'm happy to have my mind totally on those dogs. And I don't mind you either!'At school I told my teachers Dad was a spy, and Mum (who was born in Quetta) was a Pakistani. They didn't believe me on either count. So, next day I took in the yellowing 1945 newspaper cuttings from the Statesman, and the Times of India, and the Daily Sketch. They referred to Dad, thrillingly, as `Lawrence of Burma', or `Colonel X'.Times of India `Lawrence of Burma' Irishman's Exploits As Secret Service AgentFrom Bryan Reynolds, the Times of India War Correspondent CALCUTTA, May 17Known among his colleagues as `the mad Irishman', a 25-year-old professional soldier who was formerly a gunner, today has the reputation of being `the Lawrence of Burma'. A Secret Service agent who has organised guerrilla bands of natives to harass Jap lines of communications and send intelligence reports to British military commanders, his name cannot yet be revealed, but a partial story of the work he and other British officers have done can now be told.The Irishman, who is now a lieut-colonel, hails from Dublin. He joined the army when he was 17. His wife was formerly an ATS ackack gunner stationed with a battery in Hyde Park, London. He married her after he returned from the French — Swiss border where he had helped to organise the Maquis. After a honeymoon of three short days he was flown to Burma and dropped into Arakan by parachute. His Colonel and Commanding officer of this Secret Service intelligence outfit is a tall stout-built Scotsman with a profound knowledge of Burma ... `The mad Irishman,' said the Colonel to me, `admits himself that he has never been any further east than Regent Street, London. When he was told he would have to jump into the jungle in Burma he just gave us one of his blarney Irish smiles and said: "So I am to jump into the dense mixed what?"'The article goes on to describe the nature of these missions — how agents risked their lives organising the native Burmese into guerrilla bands to sabotage the enemy. How some were caught and tortured or beheaded by the Japanese, but most outwitted them. It said the guerrilla forces `killed as many as 1,500 Japs'.`Did you ever kill anyone, Dad?' I recall asking as a child.`Um. Well,' he hesitated.I could see him thinking about it, which was a little chilling.`No, I don't think I personally killed anyone,' he said.Maybe he thought I meant with his bare hands ...As Dad slowly leaves us, I try to haul him back — from the bottom of cardboard boxes and forgotten trunks; from letters buried in desks; from books I previously had not known about; from photographs I am unfamiliar with; from diaries never meant for my eyes. I am the manic charity-shop rummager rifling through old clothes. I don't know why I have taken on this task; as it is, I've been under the gravitational pull of his influence far too long. Except that suddenly I need to make some sense of it all. It's not just Dad I want to stick back together again. This is an exorcism. And a ghost hunt. Rebuild him. Rebuild me.CHAPTER 2Aside from the newspaper cuttings I paraded at school, and the few anecdotes Dad told, I knew little about the real story of his secret war. He rarely talked about it, and we, his children, at the centre of our own universes, rarely asked. When I came to think about it, I knew embarrassingly little about his life, before us, at all. Born in Dublin in 1919, brought up in Cambridge; he met Mum in Trieste; my brother, Patrick, and I were born in Gibraltar (1955, 1957); we came back to England; they bought a house in Fareham in Hampshire in 1958, where my sister Nicky and younger brother Tim were born (1959, 1961); that was about it. Dad always rooted himself in the present, and since he'd remarried in 1976, any reminiscences pre-Stepmother, in the omnipresence of her earshot, were in one way or another shut down. Unless she took them over ... for I came to learn Dad's past was under ownership and there were laws of trespass — of which I had better be mindful. In discombobulated half-sentences and (to my ear) ostentatious tone, Stepmother commandeered the telling of Dad's story of being in the `You know, you know, SOE! Secret Operations Executives.' It would have been wise to judge my words carefully, but tact was never my best game and I would correct her: `SPECIAL, SOE was for Special Operations Executive.' For I knew that much; and that SOE was set up during the Second World War by Churchill to conduct irregular warfare; its mission to orchestrate and aid resistance against the enemy from inside France and the other occupied territories. Special Operations Executive, with an emphasis, as insiders liked to put it, on the O. Clever little teenage shit. It was also known as Churchill's Secret Army; the Baker Street Irregulars (the HQ was in Baker Street); and sometimes the Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare. Stepmother's shoulder pads might puff up a millimetre or two, but solely to re-oxygenate those magnificent lungs. `You know your father was, was, a secret agent, and er, doing all sorts of things, parachuting and what-have-you, and er, er ...' There was a correlation: the less information, the more commanding the voice. `He, you know, got the Croix de Guerre!' she'd brag loudly. While Dad would only laugh.I also knew that Dad was a Jedburgh, which I accepted without understanding what it actually meant. I could hear the bray of Stepmother's voice, `Jedbraaaaagh ...' An instinct for self-preservation guided me: better not to ask. I might have intercepted Dad on his own, but for some reason I did not. Conversations of this kind had a peculiar way of doubling back to Stepmother, leading to competition, one-upmanship, jealousy: not Dad's of course, but hers, and mine.Stepmother never failed to let us know when they had been to an SOE reception at the Club (Special Forces Club), or a memorial service at Westminster Abbey, or the American Embassy, or the French Embassy, or a Jedburgh reunion at Peterborough Cathedral, or `a marquee luncheon [yes, she said, luncheon] courtesy of the Countess Fitzwilliam'. After a Jedburgh reunion in France Stepmother remembered the Countess of Paris `and what-have-you', while Dad, on the back of their itinerary, had scrawled: It's a pantomime. Neither would she pass over the opportunity to lavishly recount the occasions of meeting the charming daughter or son of a fellow Jedburgh accompanying their parent to these functions, secure in the knowledge that, with her as gatekeeper, no such invitation would be afforded to us. We knew better than to ask; the rules were unspoken and understood. Not by Dad, blithely oblivious of any eye-daggers shot in our direction if we ever got ahead of ourselves. For years I believed he knew exactly what the score was, but I was wrong. The strictures laid down by our stepmother would never have been believed by Dad because they were simply inconceivable to him. Things that did not exist in his own make-up found little space in his imagination. He could be curiously naive for such a worldly man. Sadly I was not so guileless. For me — in Stepmother Territory — as the least compliant yet possibly least robust of Dad's children, the safest distance from the subject was well away. Until in the autumn of 2003, long before I, or my siblings, (or anyone) would have dared anticipate, Stepmother died and Dad's door was wide open once again.Dad needed help. At eighty-four he was shattered by grief and utter exhaustion and (unknown to us) had begun to suffer tiny strokes in his brain. However hard he tried to hide his memory gaps we began to notice — not that he was forgetting things, he had always forgotten things. It was the type of things he was forgetting: our names; his address. And less easy for me to accept, his comprehension of everyday stuff was sliding too: how his bedside light switched on; where the voices on the radio were coming from; why he had to wait for the kettle to boil. We put it down to stress and bereavement until finally my sister took him to the doctor who sent him for a scan.I keenly and selfishly felt the irony of the timing: the first time in thirty years I was able to spontaneously pick up the phone, without the mental preparation, without Stepmother hurdles to navigate, without the anxious dread, was the moment Dad began to disappear. Small clusters of brain cells dying. Minute infarcts. Obstruction of the blood supply to the cerebral tissue. Oxygen not getting as far as it should. Everything floating in suspension, but just out of reach: his past, his life, his world. Him. Dad was bewildered, frustrated and confused. We showed him photographs to try to jog his memory, but nothing coherent seemed to click. `What?' `Who?' `Where?' I felt like a stranger gaping in. And I was fuming with Stepmother. I had glumly accepted my lot, but here was a last unexpected chance to spend the slimmest slice of time with him out of the Restriction Zone, and it was too late. I spat futilely down the phone to my sister, `She sucked every last drop out of him, and now when he needs help for once, she's not even bloody here!' As far as I could see she couldn't have organised it better if she'd tried.One minor satisfaction was that with Stepmother gone I could at least rummage around in the attic. Which was how I began this journey: casual, unwary, cross-legged in front of two metal trunks, the musty smell of old letters pulling me into a world I had no idea about. The first foray produced an exciting haul. I stacked up letters, photographs, all Granddad's pocket diaries: Letts, Collins,Farmer and Stockbreeder, The Universal, every year since 1923; there were two cassette tapes in their plastic boxes labelled in Dad's handwriting: Tom talking to Dr Robert Taylor on Burma, 1978; two A4 bound manuscripts; and the 1945 Indian newspaper cuttings I hadn't seen since I was a child.I took a bundle downstairs to show Dad. `Look at this! "Colonel X, an Irish agent who can't be named ..."'The first manuscript was a slim spiral-bound document with the Special Forces insignia (a wing either side of the initials SF in a red circle) on the cover: The Jedburghs: A Short History, by Arthur Brown. The second manuscript was fatter and glued to a cloth spine with Japanese calligraphy across its pale lemon cover. Dad had written across the top: JEDS — Tom Carew, see yellow tabs. Inside, its title: A Postscript to Arthur Brown's The Jedburghs: A Short History, compiled by Glyn Loosmore. I let the pages fan into my hand. Dad's handwriting in different-coloured pens, annotated up and down the margins in blocks and leaning towers, skimming in and out of paragraphs, exclamation and question marks sandwiched between the text. (Continues...)Excerpted from Dadland by Keggie Carew. Copyright © 2016 Keggie Carew. Excerpted by permission of Grove Atlantic, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site. --This text refers to the hardcover edition. About the Author Keggie Carew has lived in London, West Cork, Barcelona, Texas, and New Zealand. Before writing, her career was in contemporary art. She has studied English Literature at Goldsmiths, run an alternative art space called JAGO, and opened a pop-up shop in London called theworldthewayiwantit. She lives near Salisbury, in the UK. --This text refers to the hardcover edition.