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How Rifat's Sippacik, ""the sturdiest, prettiest, cleverest donkey in Cyprus"" (except when she's a Seytan, a devil) occasions a night exercise by the 27th Battery Royal Artillery, United Nations command, is a story as disparate as it sounds--part child's play, part service record. Even before Grandfather Arif Ali sells Sippacik to the British (as ""local transport""), we know as much about each of them as we do about Rifat and his family--actually more: the Turkish Cypriots seem to have fewer idiosyncracies. The longstanding ""trouble"" between the Turkish and the Greek Cypriots is brewing again, and it may come to a boil if Rifat's patriot-father is intercepted on his way home from Turkish exile. While Rifat is tending Sippacik for the British (he's the only one who can make the donkey go), he finds his father wounded and, trying to get him home, stumbles upon a Greek ambush. That's when the Battery becomes involved: the Captain, to provide cover for Rifat and Sippacik, orders the practice exercise. Not only is Osman Ali rescued but the British, when they pull out, take up a collection to buy Sippacik back for Rifat. Their relationship with Sippacik (strained, after they spoil her) and Rifat's reaction to them (""three helpings of everything except the tea"") are vastly amusing and so is the banter among the men. And there's excitement in Rifat's desperate attempt to save his father. But it won't go as the tale of a boy and a donkey.

Pub Date: April 28th, 1969
Publisher: Viking