Johnsson Beharry VC
Published by Sphere
Verdict: 5/5 – Why haven’t you got this yet?
Some people know Johnson Gideon Beharry as the guy from ‘Dancing on Ice.’ He is, however, much more than that, being the first living recipient of the Victoria Cross in over thirty years. Personally, he is also my greatest living hero. The term ‘hero’ is used for popstars, filmstars, footballers and even reality celebs. Some of theses do have talent, but are not heroic in the way that every British soldier is, and the VC recipients are like gods among heroes.
The book ‘Barefoot Soldier’ is the autobiography of Johnson Beharry, detailing his childhood, early adulthood and the action he saw in Iraq which led to him gaining the VC. I have read the book before so I knew what to expect, and I also knew that I would enjoy it.
Ishould start with the negatives. It took me a while to think of these but I don’t want to sound like a sycophant. The book could do with an update now; I am not sure if this has happened, but since the VC, he has married, had children and been on ‘Dancing on Ice’. I would love to know more of what direction his career has now taken. After becoming a VC what does a guy do next?
That is possibly the only downside, as the book tackles the trials that Beharry went through all of his life, from an alcoholic father, a slide towards womanising and drinking to some tough times in the army. The book is not an ego trip – Beharry has character flaws as we all do, and he mentions them. He sometimes skived, he drank, he may have turned out worse had it not been for the army. He is modest, as many VC winners are; “just doing my job”.
Being written first person, it delves into Beharry’s mind, something that is missing in history books, news reports and biographies. We get to learn more of who Beharry is and what drove him on. We learn he is really a normal guy who wants a simple life and somehow became a hero.
Who is the book for? I would love everyone to read the book; we can be proud of our British armed forces and the heroes that make them up. He should inspire British children but also the poor and ethnic groups. There is a discussion in the UK about there not being enough black rôle models – here is one of the greatest black heroes I can think of (please don’t argue the point, I write, not discuss race!). Politicians should also read the book to learn about our fantastic armed forces that they seem intent on destroying.
To rate the book, I would have to give it the full marks, and recommend it to everyone and if there are any directors out there, make this into a biopic.