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The Music Maker

One POW provided hope for thousands

Authors: Jaci Byrne
Rated 4.80 out of 5 based on 5 customer ratings
(5 customer reviews)
True Story, World War II
C Format

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Kenneth G Ross, Australian playwright of BREAKER MORANT – “I was gripped by this book. It is a must-read.”

On May 8 1945, forty-six-year-old Drum Major Jackson staggered towards his American liberators. Emaciated, dressed in rags, his decayed boots held together with string, he’d been force-marched for twenty days over the Austrian Alps after five heinous years as a POW in Nazi labour camps. He collapsed into his liberators’ arms, clinging to his only meaningful possession—his war diary. 

Having already experienced the horrific nature of battle in the First World War, Jackson had now survived another War—unlike hundreds of his mates, who’d succumbed to disease, insanity, or had been killed in action. Men far younger than he. But he could never have imagined what awaited him on the home front.

A captivating testament to human endurance, Jackson’s diary and photos, one of the last such memoirs to be published, is the inspiration for The Music Maker. An unforgettable and gripping true story about the life and times of a humble man who, through his passion for music, overcame extreme adversity.

Jaci Byrne

Jaci Byrne

Jaci Byrne is the granddaughter of The Music Maker, the late Drum Major Henry Barnes Jackson. A full-time writer, Jaci has published four novels and a series of children’s books. This is her first work of non-fiction. She lives in Avalon Beach, Sydney.

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5 reviews for The Music Maker

  1. Rated 5 out of 5

    The Music Maker is an incredible story, an inspiring book based on Drum Major Jackson’s treasured WWII POW diaries. Written for all audiences, Jaci Byrne has written this story with truth & sensitivity which will resonate to everyone who reads it. Good on you Jaci Byrne.
    Angela Farmer

  2. Rated 5 out of 5

    I have just finished The Music Maker by Jaci Byrne, and what a read! A true account of life as a prisoner of war in WWII, this gripping, heart-wrenching story is so beautifully written. I couldn’t put it down & now feel sad it is finished. Such a privilege to read about this wonderful man.

  3. Rated 4 out of 5

    Well I’ve just finished The Music Maker…. what a wretched, emotional journey I’ve been on with Harry Jackson and his fellow prisoners. To display such stout-heartedness and resilience in the face of such adversity shows the backbone of men of their day, the love of music and performance transcending both sides of the war and allowing Jackson to keep his sanity intact (although performing for the enemy was to be endured not enjoyed). Drum Major Henry Barnes Jackson went to hell and back, the love of his wife and family sustaining him through all. Thank you for the privilege of allowing me to swim into the depths of your family’s fortitude, Jaci Byrne.

  4. Rated 5 out of 5

    I am in my eighties and my daughter bought me The Music Maker for Father’s Day this year. I am not a big reader, but I started the book one morning soon after receiving it and I did not look up until the following afternoon! I could not put it down, so much so that my wife kept checking on me! I loved the fact that it was easy to read and so engaging. I’m an Australian and most of the literature on WWII I have read has been pertaining to the Pacific theatre, so it was fascinating to read about the war in Europe from this amazing man’s perspective. Absolutely 5 stars from me!

  5. Rated 5 out of 5

    I found it The Music Maker the most harrowing and emotional book I have ever read. To read something like this from the diary of a man taken prisoner by the Germans and spending almost six years at WWII and five as a POW, is heart-wrenching. The courage, strength, determination, and downright guts it took for these men (and women) to survive is incredible. Personally, I think this story should be compulsory reading in high schools both here and overseas. For students to read a story like this, one actually from the mouth of a POW, I am sure would keep in their minds just the sacrifices these men and women made for their freedom. From the POWs who withstood capture, torture, starvation and more, to the women back home who kept our countries running, and those who sacrificed their lives for their freedom, I feel this beautifully written book is a must-read for everyone.

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