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Sir Robin Dunn would have succeeded, and gone to the top, in any career he might have chosen, but it was the army to which he was born. His father, both grandfathers and one great grandfather were military men, and it was the gunners and the RM.A. which beckoned after leaving Wellington. Yet in later life he became a Lord Justice of Appeal.
The first part of Sword and Wig describes in sharp focus the European and Desert theatres in World War II. There is no better vantage point than an artillery O.P. from which to observe what is happening in the heat of battle, and Sir Robin's Dunkirk, Western Desert, and 'D' Day diaries illuminate the events as if they were yesterday.
The second part of the book follows the meteoric legal career of Lord Justice Dunn after his call to the Bar in 1948. Always alive to the main issues, and using his varied common law and criminal cases to bolster his arguments, this is not a boasting recitation of how I did it or how right I was. Part II gives a graphic and intriguing behind the scenes insight into the workings of the Bar, its techniques and ethics, which remains highly topical today.
He also describes, not without humour, the changing mechanisms of our legal system as seen from a seat on the High Court Bench and in the Court of Appeal, and highlights the pressures to which judges are subject when sitting in open court in the full glare of publicity. The book emphasises the link between changes in our social attitudes and changes in the law- especially in Sir Robin's speciality of Family Law.
Apart from Lord Denning's, this is the first autobiography of a Lord Justice to be published. It reflects an unusual man, whose life has been sustained by his family, his roots on Exmooor and his love of horses. These outside interests beyond the law illuminate and to a considerable degree explain the make-up, the wisdom and the success. Add to this a judge's gift of summary and lucid expression and we are indeed fortunate that Sir Robin has used his retirement to re-live his life and re-state his views between hard covers.