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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
Lucky Jack (1894 – 2000): Memoirs of a World War 1 POW by S. Bavey is a legacy memoir narrated in the first person by Jack Rogers and collated by his granddaughter, who is the author. Rogers lived until the age of 106 and his story starts at the very beginning of this book with his memory, as a toddler, of making eye contact with Queen Victoria. In between, Rogers relays in exact detail the most poignant moments of his life and some less so, but still notable, as part of the overall arc of one man's journey. These include personal moments such as family weddings, as well as his own, and more universally famed events such as the Easter Rising in Ireland, and both WWI and WWII. In the first war, he was a prisoner of war. He lived through the reigns of six different kings and queens of England with letters to prove they knew he was out there too. Photographs are sprinkled throughout to bring to life what Rogers relays from memory.
There is something about the generation that saw more change than any other in history. Imagine being born when the world was still traveling via horse and buggy, and then raising a pint when watching the first man walk on the moon. It's extraordinary, and memoirs like Lucky Jack are almost like time capsules that share the individual experiences that we may know about collectively but cannot connect to personally. S. Bavey and Jack Rogers, in narrating and collating Rogers' stories, have added an important piece to the reporting of British history and, specifically, to the lending of an authentic voice as a POW for those who never made it home. The writing has the feel of one sitting by the fire while a grandparent retells a slice of their life. It is rough around the edges from a literary perspective but the conversational tone works well. I can see this book being of interest to historians and those who seek out war journals, but the real treasure will be reserved for the generations of Rogers' descendants to come who will have a concrete account of their family history.