One of my favourite novels of the past decade. I think I've read it more than a dozen times and the appeal never fades. Not a conventional war story by any means, the book it most closely reminds me of, strangely, is Joseph Heller's classic "Catch 22". Although the books are poles apart, they are both concerned with the absurdity of war, but whereas "Catch 22" is black and manic, "A Sailor of Austria" is gently sardonic. Biggins accurately conveys the crumbling pretensions of the Austro-Hungarian empire and the utter meaninglessness of its military efforts in this tepid backwater of the War to end all Wars. Part of the allure of the story for me was the very obscurity of the campaign Biggins is describing. Prior to reading this I had no idea that Austro-Hungary even had a navy, let alone a submarine fleet. The depth of Biggin's research is obvious and extremely impressive. His hero and narrator, Otto Prohaska, is a likeable sea-dog, with a healthy cynicism regarding the doddering Empire he serves, but whose loyalty to that same crumbling edifice remains steadfast until it literally falls to pieces around him. The final scenes aboard his submarine as the Austro-Hungarian flag is taken down for the last time and his crew prepares to break up are among the the most moving in the book. The book has plenty more to recommend it - humour, romance, intrigue, in short a must-read for anyone interested in war and the sea.