Review of Four Fisted Tales: Animals in Combat by Ben Towle

I received this book courtesy of Jacqline Barnes, publicity manager at the Naval Institute Press and am so glad to have had the chance to read it!

As the name indicates, this graphic novel is about different kinds of animals and the part their ilk has played in combat. We get to read about Jack the only canine POW to be traded for another prisoner, ships’ cats, dolphins and the supposedly secret underwater military labs they’re a part of, rats, carrier pigeons, and even slugs that have participated in manmade battles and sieges!

Usually, when we think war animal, we’re visualizing the elephants the Mughal army employed so skillfully when they fought to establish their rule in the Indian Subcontinent. Even if we stretched the power of imagination, we might envision carrier pigeons flying with missives from general to general. So, I was surprised to see the author mention certain animals and then not-so surprised when I really thought about it.

I mean, wouldn’t the loyalty of a dog lend itself to an ongoing civil war? And if you’re going to check for the thousands of mines left behind in Vietnam, what better to do it with than with rats? They are light enough not to trigger the bomb but clever enough to sniff it out!

Besides the active participation of beasts, the book also reminds us of another role animals have played for centuries. That of mascots. Take the baboon, Jackie, for example. It was a mascot to the South African Infantry Regiment fighting Turks and Germans during the first World War.

All in all, I sped through this interesting book in next to no time and learned many fun facts about animals in combat. Recommending it for anyone who’d like a short info-packed read about animals-in-war.

Some really bad pictures up ahead:

The Art
The Indomitable Satan!

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Jeremy Beard says:

    I was thinking “war” + slugs” = “war slugs” and now that makes me imagine a very bizarre fantasy setting.


    1. Midu Hadi says:

      Oooh, color me intrigued!


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