From Cairo to Cassino
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Dan Davin’s vivid, picaresque memoir of his brilliant and mercurial friend Paddy Costello focuses on their time together in North Africa and Italy during World War 2, when they both served as intelligence officers to General Freyberg, before Costello’s secondment to a controversial career in the diplomatic service.
|Date Published||12th April 2019|
|Publisher||Cold Hub Press|
Paddy Costello, along with John Mulgan, Geoffrey Cox, Ian Milner, James Bertram, and Dan Davin, was one of a cast of young scholars who made seemingly peripheral yet lasting contributions to the New Zealand post-war cultural landscape. But Costello, despite his great many gifts, never quite found his place in the world and he remains an elusive and contradictory figure, someone whose reputation rests on what he could have done rather than on what he did. Yet he continues to fascinate by his very elusiveness. Paddy Costello was also the best friend of Dan Davin: expatriate publisher, editor, novelist, short-story writer, poet, raconteur, and not least of all an indefatigably generous host and friend to many New Zealand writers in the UK. From Cairo to Cassino recounts the beginnings and the deepening of their friendship as they talked, tippled and fought their way through North Africa and Italy. Spanning Davin's embarkation with 2 New Zealand Division at Alexandria, as it headed towards its mauling in Greece and on Crete, through to the day of the bombing of Monte Cassino, this book is many things: gentle and impassioned, candid and ironical, recondite and visceral. It is also often very funny. One of Davin's last significant works and perhaps the one in which he made his deepest personal investment, From Cairo to Cassino confirms that he was one of our finest memoirists, as he lovingly brings Costello back to life in all his sound and fury. A significant addition to New Zealand's literature of the Second World War, this is a special book that deserves to be read and reread. Dan Davin looms large in New Zealand literary & military history. He was born in Invercargill in 1913, graduated from Otago University with honours in English and Latin, and won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University in 1936. In the Second World War he fought with the 2nd New Zealand Division, later writing the acclaimed Crete volume of the Official History of New Zealand in the Second World War. Much of his post-war life was devoted to the Oxford University Press where he became deputy secretary and academic publisher, that is to say in charge of academic publishing under the renowned Clarendon Press imprint. He wrote seven novels, several collections of short stories & a highly regarded volume of memoirs of his writer-friends, CLOSING TIMES. For more than thirty years, he was an informal ambassador for New Zealand letters in Britain, and his friendships, connections and reviews in the TLS did much to bring New Zealand writers to a larger public. He died in Oxford in 1990.