Lucky Jack (1894-2000): Memoirs of a World War 1 POW is the fun, lighthearted, life-affirming account of Jack Rogers, the grandfather of the author, Sue Bavey.
"A lighthearted account from someone who was a prisoner of war in World War 1?" some might ask. And to them, I say, "Absolutely." This book is suffused from start to finish with the spirit of "Lucky Jack." His positivity is commendable and compelling, his joie de vivre in the face of misfortune, downright enviable. When faced with trial after trial in his long, impressive life, he never bemoaned his fate, but to the contrary, was filled with a sense of gratefulness that he was able to overcome anything set in his path.
Being someone who is interested in history, I have read several accounts of soldiers involved in WW1. To be in one of those trenches seems like one of the worst experiences human beings have ever had to go through. But in all my reading, I have never come across an account that focussed on the good times eked out between the miserable. Jack's story of being a WW1 POW is the story of his theater company, and the performances they would put on for other POWs, as well as German soldiers! I would love to have seen just one of those performances!
All of that is not to say that Jack was naive, or that he wasn't aware of the horrible situation humanity had found itself in. He seems to have simply decided to brighten the world around him, wherever he happened to be. It was his dedication to this idea that made this book such a wonderful read.
And if accounts of wartime aren't really your thing, they only cover about a third of the book (total guess, probably wrong). The rest of the book concerns both his childhood, and his long, adventure-filled time as a pensioner. The man lived in three different centuries! He has a ton of extremely interesting anecdotes about how the world changed in that time.
The author, Sue Bavey, does a fantastic job of arranging all of Jack's stories into a cohesive narrative. It was obvious that this project meant a lot to her. Her passion really shines through.
Right up to his death at 106 years old, Lucky Jack brought joy to those around him. If nothing else, reading this wonderful biography might inspire you to do the same. I know it did for me!