|The people who defend their country in wartime deserve the highest respect but don't always get it, especially as time and politics change.In this memoir of the 1965 Indian-Pakistan war at the battle of Phillora and subsequent action in Kashmir, Sri Lanka (IPKF), the Punjab and Manipur, Major General Ganguly does more than relate his distinguished career history - he also gives us a glimpse of the more human side of being an infantry officer and indeed workaday insights into the lives of the men of the rank and file as well as their generals and strategists.
Fascinating glimpses of the sheer gut-wrenching exhaustion of getting an army on the move, driving in the pitch dark in close convoy, getting food to weary soldiers, or even the poignant leave-taking from a family wedding party before the ceremony starts, to return to HQ in time for them to move out. The wartime action, discipline and the sense of duty are a given, but what draws even a reader like myself, who generally has little taste for memoirs of any description, are the sharply observed vignettes of the camaraderie and care that soldiers and their commanders share to keep all the little cogs running as smoothly as possible, sometimes in appalling conditions and, as the titles says, at times when death and disaster are only a heartbeat away.
Highly recommended for anyone who's ever wondered what it's like to be on 'active service' - a woefully inadequate term for those who fight for their country in the worst of times.
Rating: [5 of 5 Stars!]