Snakes and Ladders
Snakes and Ladders, Stephen Verney's sixth book is a personal account of how we are challenged by the coincidence of opposites throughout our lives. The main focus of the book rests on the author's vivid account of daily life during World War Two – first as a Red Cross worker with the Quakers, in Norway, Finland, Libya and Syria; and then as a Resistance fighter in German occupied Crete. It was an incident in Aleppo that led Verney to the agonising decision to leave the Quakers and join the Army. This agony persisted throughout his time in Crete, where, disguised as a Cretan cattle dealer, he carried in his pocket a ready cocked pistol cushioned by his small bible. The clash of opposites reverberates throughout Verney's war – delicious food, famine, squalor, beauty, hatred and compassion. The vividness of this book and its charming details spring out of the letters that he wrote to his parents – letters which were carefully archived in Claydon House, his family home in Buckinghamshire, and later also recorded by The Imperial War Museum. Verney writes with an effortless humour, a humility that is never pious and an acceptance that does not judge. War is a part of life and manifests itself through human love and goodness, as well as through evil.
Born in 1919, Stephen Verney, was an unconventional Bishop of Repton, in the diocese of Derby, from 1977 to 1985. When the war started Verney was a pacifist and registered conscientious objector. But as the war intensified he changed his mind and joined the Army and worked in the resistance movement on German-occupied Crete He was ordained in in 1950 and in 1964 he was appointed to one of the residentiary canonries of the newly rebuilt Coventry Cathedral. He became Bishop of Repton in 1977. He has published several books including Into The New Age (1976), Water into Wine (1985) and The Dance of Love (1989) - all of them a combination of romanticism, vision and insight. He died in 2009.
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