The Eagele Has Landed
Like most readers when asked about my favourite book i can find it really difficult to say, as it can change almost day by day depending on my mood. However if you were to ask me which book made me become a reader then that will always get the same answer and that would have to be Jack Higgins book, the Eagle has Landed. Before we discuss why let me give you a brief description of the plot
The book starts of in modern day Norfolk in a village called Studly Constobale where the Author is looking for the grave of a sea captain, examining the grave he finds one that is lose and moves it and underneath is another grave with the inscription about German Paratroopers who were killed in action in 1943. This leads the author to go through the archives and meet people to find the story of this event. With the book itself being about the mission that led to the grave being hidden in a church in Norfolk.
The story is told through many different people from an historical figure Admerail Canaries, Colonel Kurt Stirner the leader of the mission, Liam Devlin an IRA member Joanna Gray a spy for the Germans and Farther Verica a catholic priest. Each fictional character has a brief summary of their lives, up to this point.
How I came across it
Like most of the things I completely love it was an accident, at the time i wanted to read books which were above my reading ability, to get around this I got an audio book of Alistar Macclean Guns of Navrone. This was not the full version form Audible as this was the early 80’s. Amazon was not around yet or even the internet and if i did have a computer it was only the Sinclair ZX81 which was black and white and came with only 1k of memory but i digress. The version I Had was abridged and came on 2 tapes.
When it was time to buy another one i asked my parents to get me, another Maclean story Where Eagles Dare, this was not in the shop so they rang me up from a pay phone and gave me a choice of what was there, one was the Vikings and the other was The Eagle has Landed. As one of the titles had the word Eagle in the title, I chose that one not knowing what the story was about.
After my parents got, I put it in my tape recorder and heard the first opening of the book which is:-
“Someone was digging a grave as in the corner of the cemetery as I went through the lych-gate”
I even looked up the term lych-gate which is a covered gate entering a church yard and after hearing the story i was enthralled by it.
Why did it have an impact on me as a reader?
As you can see I had not heard if the book before getting The Eagle Has Landed. This meant coming to the story fresh with no expectations allowing me to immerse myself in to the story knowing nothing.
Growing up In Nottinghamshire in the 70’s and 80’s, the world was black and white the Germans were always the enemy in the war movies that I watched. With the IRA were on the news detonating bombs and killing people, while the South Africans still had apartheid. What this novel did was give the point of view of the enemy and that they are nuances in any argument.
Above all the story of German paratroopers landing in war time England and trying to kill the prime minister, to a young boy who was interested in world war II It ticked all the Boxes.
The Author used one of the characters from the book Liam Devlin in other books that he wrote. In 1991 Higgins wrote a sequel which followed on from the end of the book called The Eagle Has Flown
Since I listened to the Audio book all those years ago I have brought and read the paperback version of the book which i read a number of times. In addition to this I have an ebook version of the book and the Audible as well as the movie which was made in 1976 starring Michael Caine.
Thanks for reading and looking forward to hearing your thoughts on what book made you a reader.