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I Confess

A Memoir of the Siege of Tobruk

Authors: John Murray
Rated 5.00 out of 5 based on 8 customer ratings
(8 customer reviews)
01/Aug/2011
256
Paperback
9780987057488
$19.99

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I Confess is an intimate portrayal of command in the crucible of war. Murray commanded the Australian 20th Brigade during the siege of Tobruk. This is a portrait of the relationship he forges with his men through the long days of the siege against a relentless enemy as tempers fray and exhaustion threatens.

The torturous siege of Tobruk has been captured in this compelling memoir from Major General John Murray, commander of the Australian 20th Brigade – the Rats of Tobruk. His humorous and deprecating story is not one of raging battles, but of the essence of command as he reflects on its stresses, tragedies and its lifelong rewards.

Murray was a good story teller and in I Confess, he captures the essence of what our ‘ancestors’ experienced at war. His memoir is a portrait of the relationship he forges with his men through the long days of the siege against a relentless enemy as supplies dwindle, tempers fray and exhaustion threatens.

Written in April 1945 as the war entered its final phase Murray captures his story, not as war history, but as tales of men, their hardships, their relationships and their adventures. Incorporating maps, photographs and speeches, I Confess, is a wonderful tribute to not only a courageous and determined officer but also to those men he led through two world wars.

What Readers are saying..” General Murray’s diary entries during the siege of Tobruk and his life after provide a clear, thoughtful and very enlightening account of those fateful and grueling times. I felt like something of an insider walking around with him as he made his rounds to the various camps and was struck by the bravery of the soldiers and the cunning of the leaders taking messages into the enemy camp at night. As a history book it is well worth reading. As an account of human endurance, friendship, bravery, commitment and loss it is a “good read.” We thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend it to you.”

John Murray

John Murray

Major General John Murray was born at The Rocks in Sydney in 1892, the fourth of seven children or Irish immigrants. He was educated at St Patrick’s and went to work at Anthony Horderns in 1910. At the same time he joined the Citizen Military Force, in which he remained between the wars. He enlisted […]

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8 reviews for I Confess

  1. Rated 5 out of 5

    This is a unique book, providing wonderful insight into the skilful way in which our troops were led and managed, particularly through the challenges of the seige of Tobruk. It is the sheer ‘ordinariness’ of everyday life in extraordinary circumstances that is surprising, and it is also a very good read.

  2. Rated 5 out of 5

    Remember Tobruk? Not the the Tobruk of last year’s Arab Spring (eastern Libya aflame with dreams of liberation from despotic rule) but Tobruk the precursor of “the beginning of the end,” WWII’s Battle of El Alamein? Major General John J Murray’s 1150 remembers Tobruk in the most immediate way–a nearly contemporaneous recounting of events of the siege of Tobruk in 1941, told by a senior officer who commanded Australian forces in Tobruk during the entire siege. At the beginning of WWII Libya was an Italian colony. Upon entrance into the war June , Italy appealed to Nazi Germany to help secure the only coastal road, vital communications links and only deep-water seaport between Alexandria and Tripoli, at Tobruk. I Confess is an account of Australia’s 20th Brigade’s time at Tobruk. Military strategy details are best left to other sources, but Maj. Gen. Murray gives face and flesh to the many brave men he commanded –I believe he felt, on the contrary, that they commanded him. I Confess is a gentle book by a military-hardened man (Murray served his country in WWI as well as WWII). In writing this memoir he followed his own precept of a good leader: ” Show a great understanding of the man himself, of his difficulties…Get to know him quickly. It is your privilege to know and to share his hardships.” It was my privilege to get to know Maj. Gen. Murray and to share his triumphs and hardships through his memoir. —–SKHunt, Santa Fe NM

  3. Rated 5 out of 5

    General Murray’s diary entries during the siege of Tobruk and his life after provide a clear, thoughtful and very enlightening account of those fateful and grueling times. I felt like something of an insider walking around with him as he made his rounds to the various camps and was struck by the bravery of the soldiers and the cunning of the leaders taking messages into the enemy camp at night. As a history book it is well worth reading. As an account of human endurance, friendship, bravery, commitment and loss it is a “good read.” We thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend it to you.

  4. Rated 5 out of 5

    I really enjoyed this book: it’s not often I find myself wanting to turn each page and start the next chapter, but I did so with this one. It’s such an affectionate tribute to Australian diggers and their resolute good humour. The focus is on the fighters rather than on the fight; and on the rank and file rather than on the generals. It’s well illustrated and carefully edited, and quite rightly concludes with the editor’s affectionate tribute to the General Murray and his family.

  5. Rated 5 out of 5

    This memoir is an unusual addition to the historical literature of the second World War. Its descriptions, along with its pointed omissions, mark the transition of a fighting unit from raw recruits to battle-hardened, savvy survivors of a long, dangerous siege of extreme desert conditions. In his telling, Brigadier Murray’s great achievement is to invite the reader to feel and consider not only the physical but mental survival of officers and enlisted men in a desert-siege environment, from combat-duty to leave, from personal living space to the supply-lines and allies that supported their mission. The idiosyncrasies of his men–their individual ingenuity, courage, and talents–that contributed to the communal task of war are a continuous source of new information and inspiration to the General. His manuscript is supplemented by an amazing collection of photographs that trace the journey of an Australian family from home to war and comrades and back to the plough again.

  6. Rated 5 out of 5

    1150′ brings a refreshingly different approach to recording the memory of war. Shedding his military persona, Major General John Joseph Murray chose to write as a ‘raconteur of feelings’ – his own and those of his men – during the siege of Tobruk. As the narrative unfolds, readers will discover that they are being privileged with the thoughts and feelings of a man gifted with high intelligence shot through with a rich vein of human understanding – at all times laced with the Irish-Australian humour typical of his day. It is through this lens of gentle humour that the reader is led to share the daily events and experiences of the men of Tobruk – the hardships, deprivations, boredom, nerve-racking battles, losses and never-failing warm mateship, as well as the welcome relief of occasional moments of recreation through theatre and even a game of cricket! This is as much a story of humanity as it is of war – how men who came together to forge a disciplined fighting force were humanly cared for by leaders like Major General Murray who excelled in ‘that compassionate feeling which holds all men together when separated from their loved ones.’ This is indeed an original memoire of the Tobruk Siege written by a man who had already fought bravely in the First World War. An Appendix containing original documents from the author’s war files and an Epilogue on his life and family expand and enrich the memoire.

  7. Rated 5 out of 5

    An outstanding read! As a former soldier and a student of history, I was delighted to read a personal, grounded and humble account of this accomplished General’s successful efforts in leading and rallying his men at Tobruk. I strongly recommend this book to any student of military history as a complementary text to the standard tracts on the North African campaigns.

  8. Rated 5 out of 5

    Major General John Joseph Murray’s book, I Confess , provides readers with a unique insight into his character and war record. It is a memorable account of Australian troops’ life in battle and away from the action, in particular in Tobruk. The author is so attuned to the troops’ thoughts and activities that readers feel they are re-visiting the war effort, even though the memoir was written. His outstanding leadership qualities are evident in the way he treats with care and respect the seemingly minor incidents that affect his troops. He realises their needs are magnified when they are away for months, if not years, from a home environment. At times, he also conveys the impact of war on his own emotions and family life. Major General Murray’s words reveal a great leader who comes across as humble, humorous and humane. Numerous, high-quality photographs from private and public collections add to the historical importance of this book. The team, led by Major General Murray’s grandson, Andrew Murray, that worked on the original manuscript to bring this book to fruition, is to be commended.

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