Most Second World War veterans are now in their late eighties, and are dying at the rate of ten thousand per week. Struck by this statistic, British barrister and travel writer John Gimlette decided to invite one octogenarian ex-GI, a Bostonian named Putnam Flint, to retrace his small part in the liberation of Western Europe. The result is one of the quirkiest, most thoughtful and illuminating books to have come my way in a long time.
The trouble is that, because of its silly title and the fact that it falls uncomfortably between the genres of travel and history (and touches on many others besides), the book may be overlooked. It does not deserve such obscurity. In following Flint’s footsteps – or rather, tank tracks, since