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Cry Wolf and Count Aldo Belli.

PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2006 5:57 pm
by willlou
I have just finished ´Cry Wolf´ which like all of Wilber´s books I very much enjoyed. What made this book a little different from the others was the introduction of an almost comic character in Colonel Count Aldo Belli. Was this guy for real? I know that Wibler´s books are usually spot on historically but was the character of the Count based on a real person? I know that Italian officers in that period lived well but it seems almost too unbelivable to be true. Can anyone help with this? How about you Wilber?

PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2006 6:05 pm
by John R
Hello willou and welcome to the forum!

I have not yet read 'Cry Wolf' but i'm sure there is someone on here who has and will help you out soon.

Enjoy the Wilbur board.

PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2006 6:14 pm
by Matbow
Hi willlou,

I've read Cry Wolf but don't have a clue about its historical acuracy...I did find the Count quite amusing too, almost too much so. I can't see him being a real person TBH, but Wilbur was probably making an accurate comment about the fact that aristocracy were given prominant positions in the military.


PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2006 9:10 pm
by Nefer
Hi willou! :)

Can't say I've read the book, but I'd agree with Matt in saying that WS is trying to make a point and be funny at the same time :mrgreen:

I might have to read it now!

Be sure and drop by the Introductions thread... I'm sure we'll all be interested to know more about you :)

PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2006 10:01 pm
by Phils_jd
Hi there Willou

Its been a while since I read the book but I do agree that every now and then WS throws some very funny scenes, lines into his stories.

What other of his books have you read?

PostPosted: Sat Apr 29, 2006 12:21 pm
by damo42
That character was the best reason to read "Cry Wolf". Historically relevant? No, there is no way that anyone could be so inept... However, I thought that he was one of the most amusing personalities I have seen in a WS book. The fact that he was such an anomaly was the thing that made the book great.

That line: "pale and proud as a mother who's newborn baby is the center of attention", had me falling off the sofa, laughing. Completely ridiculous and unexpected humor.

I think it says a LOT about WS confidence that he has the audacity to write a book with a character that was obviously for his own amusement. A lot of authors go around spouting nonsense about writing books for themselves, I think that Aldo Belli puts WS at the head of the pack because he proves (to me at least) that when WS says that, he's serious.

Count Aldo Belli was my favorite character in what would have been, without him, an unmemorable book.

PostPosted: Sun Apr 30, 2006 10:54 am
by WSI
I don't think Belli was a real person. But he has a lot of italian officers and something of the typical italian in films or books.
In these years the italians were in Abessinia as occupying force and for sure there was some man like Belli. So give him another name and you will fin him ;-)

Accuracy of Military Accounts in "Cry Wolf"

PostPosted: Fri Jun 16, 2006 2:06 pm
by stahler
The overall impression given of the 2 sides in the Italian-Ethiopian war are reasonably accurate. The Italians at that point are "pretending" to be a modern army, but there is still a lot of the 19th Century colonial armies in the mentality of the officers.

On the other hand, the accuracy of the details is pathetic. Some examples (page numbers from the paperback version):

The "heavily armoured CV.3 tanks with their 50 mm guns" (p.77) - The CV.3 tank was armed with 2 x 8 mm machineguns, not a 50mm cannon. The armor of the Ethiopian armored cars would have been no more susceptible to tank fire than to infantry machine guns. The armor was 13.5mm, not much more than the armored car. In another place the armament is referred to as a "Spandau Cannon." Spandau is the nickname given to the WWI German Maxim machinegun produced in Spandau, Germany -- nothing to do with the CV.3.

The speed attributed to the various vehicles: generally they sped across the desert at 60 miles/hr. The armored car is an early 1920's vintage automobile with slightly beefed up springs and 1-2 tons of armor plate hung off of it. Imagine a Model A with 2 tons of lead in the trunk going across open countryside. How fast do think they could go? Top speed for the armored car would have been about 40 mph on a straight and level highway, 15-20 mph across flat desert (limited by both the suspension and the weight/hp ratio).

And then there is the scene where the armored car takes a direct hit and blows up. "The entire turret was lifted from its seating and went high in the air in a flash of crimson flame and sooty smoke." (p413) In fact, an internal explosion in an armored vehicle will frequently lift the turret off the turret ring -- you can see many pictures of Russian AFV's in WWII with just this type of damage. But wait -- the armored car didn't have a rotating turret! It had a welded superstructure with a MG sticking out with a limited traverse, and the entire car had to be turned to fire the MG. That was key to much of the action in the story. Sloppy, sloppy.

I guess I'm pretty offended by an author that makes up military details to make his story more exciting.


PostPosted: Fri Jun 16, 2006 3:01 pm
by Matbow
Hi Stahler and welcome!

WS like many authors bends the truth to suit their own needs. In Birds of Prey WS did a similar thing and he openly admitted this in the preface:

"Although...set in the mid seventh century the which my characters find themselves are usually more associated with the sixteenth century...I have occasionally used the word cannon as generic."

Not exactly a minor fudge!

To be honest the fact that WS has deliberately manipulates the facts doesn't really bother me. I don't read fiction for factual accuracy, just enjoyment. But I can understand where you're coming from, and I reckon quite a few people may share the same opinion if they were true military geeks. In reality not many people would have a clue that "The CV.3 tank was armed with 2 x 8 mm machineguns, not a 50mm cannon" and even after they were informed of this I doubt it would really hurt their opinon of the book.

On a slightly connected note, I get really annoyed when film directors/writers completely fiddle with a book when adapting it for the screen. Especially true for The Bourne Trilogy and some of the characterisation in Lord of the Rings. But that's another thing altogether...

Re: Cry Wolf and Count Aldo Belli.

PostPosted: Sat Jun 19, 2010 8:16 pm
by johnrogers
I just finished Cry Wolf - I loved the book to death - I have never had so much emotion run through me as reading of Count Aldo Belli - I wanted to smash him with a brick - Wilbur does it again

Wilbur Smith and firearms.

PostPosted: Sat Sep 04, 2010 6:01 am
by vincent
WS has openly said that he has a passion for firearms. I really admire him for saying this to the press in this pathetic, sickenly politicaly correct world we live in. Public figures who have the courage to say that they like guns and hunting are in the minority. My respect for him increased when I read that comment. I am a bit of a gun enthusiast myself and I have often picked up errors on the technical side of firearms in his books. We should all forgive him for this as his books are superbly researched and nobody is perfect. Who really cares if there is an error here and there. He is still the worlds best novelist and if we did not enjoy his writing we would not be on this forum.

Re: Cry Wolf and Count Aldo Belli.

PostPosted: Tue Sep 07, 2010 11:46 am
by johnrogers
I very much agree with you.Count Aldo Belli really got under my skin.What a pompous rear end he was.Cry Wolf was a great book to read.I bolted out of my chair several times wanting to strangle Count Aldo Belli.The thing about the Count was I am sure there have been many people like him in real life.Count Aldo Belli was one of Wilburs characters that affected me the most.Good Reading.