2008
14.05

The Circuit by Bob SheperdCamban:

“When a twenty year veteran of the SAS and a highly experienced private security contractor takes the trouble to shatter a few misconceptions we should all pay close attention and prepare to have our illusions dissolved.

Yes, it’s that bad out there.

We can never again view the supposed bad guys and good guys with our long held assumptions. He has harsh words to say about the situations and personnel in Israel/Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and surprisingly, some new insight into the Bravo Two Zero mission with which he was involved (the book is dedicated to Vince Phillips, A Soldier). However, his most scathing criticism is reserved for the private security industry and shocking it is too. A very disturbing book revealing that nothing out there in the hostile parts of the world are quite as we assume, or are led to assume.

A must read publication if ever there was one.”

Thank you Cam !

2007
10.12

“Truly superb, what those boys go through……………..”

Two reviews this time from our renowned book reviewer Camban.
Sniper One book by Dan Mills
The first one is Sniper One by Sergeant Dan Mills. Sgt. Mills is an  Army sniper hero who as has “beaten an MoD ban to reveal the true story of the most epic battle fought by British troops in Iraq”, according to The Sun Newspaper (note: the book is ghostwritten by its defence editor Tom Newton Dunn).
Sniper One Review:

“All first hand accounts of war fighting are by definition interesting, if you are into that sort of thing. They fascinate both those who have been there, and those who have not. Some though are outstanding examples that convey the reader into the cauldron with skillful use of language and a sense of time that brings the scenes as close to reality as typeface can, this is one of the best. A good measure of veracity are the revues posted on the British Army Rumour Service web site by serving soldiers, they know a Walt when they see one, they all like this book. There are suggestions on that site that this was ghost written but that does not matter at all, this is the first hand story of Sergeant Mills, a sniper platoon commander, during his time at Al Amarah in Iraq during 2004 and is simply awesome in scale with the description of close in action among the best ever produced. Andy McNab is quoted on the cover “One of the best first-hand accounts of combat that I’ve ever read”, well he should know!”

3 Para book by Patrick BishopThe second book is 3 Para by Patrick Bishop, another new book that might tickle your collective fancies.
3 Para Review::

“Afghanistan, summer 2006, THIS is war” trumpets the cover blurb. And it certainly is. This is a story of continuous deadly action endured not only by 3 Para, but many other units of the British Army during this largely unknown series of battles fought by seriously outnumbered units of professional soldiers opposing the mindless hordes of suicidal paradise seekers with a seemingly endless supply of deadly weapons. But these moronic, drug addled ‘warriors’ were fought to a standstill by sheer professionalism and courage. Now, this book is nothing like the first person accounts such as ‘Sniper One’ to name but one. It is a journalistic work of great range which puts forward many different pieces of the overall war story. So don’t expect raw excitement but be in awe of the subject matter; those young soldiers who found themselves in the cauldron and did not flinch.”
About Patrick Bishop: “A foreign correspondent since 1982 covering numerous wars and conflicts around the world. In the last five years he has emerged as a highly regarded military historian with his books. He began his career covering the British re-capture of the Falkands 25 years ago. Since then he has reported from the front line on almost every major war of the era.”

2007
21.11

Eight Lives Down book by Chris Hunter
‘If fate is against me and I’m killed, so be it, but make it quick and painless. If I’m wounded, don’t let me be crippled. But above all don’t let me fuck up the task’

Some info on a brilliant new book which should appeal, “Eight Lives Down” by Chris Hunter. (The title refers to the nickname for bomb disposal soldiers, Felix the Cat, nine lives sort of thing?)

The cover blurb says “The World’s Most Dangerous Job in the World’s Most Dangerous Place”, “The Story of a Counter-Terrorist Bomb Disposal Operator’s Tour in Iraq”, and “The Most Exciting and Nerve-Jangling Work of Military Non-fiction Since Bravo Two Zero”. The first two certainly sum up this book’s ethos, not sure about the third though, it’s nothing like B20 in fact, just a bit of publisher’s hype to shift the book really. Having said that, this is an entirely compelling story in its own right which is well written and worth telling. We are taken into the world of the men who tackle the increasingly sophisticated attempts to kill allied troops with IEDs and rockets. The workload is unrelenting, the lives saved immeasurable, the detective work immaculate. This book is full of action and contains many facts about this subject that were hitherto unknown to the public. Essential reading if you have the slightest interest in what is really happening in Iraq.

[Thanks to GML friend and fellow-traveler Camban for the review]

2007
15.11

[You’ve got to read this in-depth and honest review of Crossfire. It was posted as a comment by visitor Matt, but I thought it deserved its own post.–SixtySix]

Just finished Crossfire; it’s reasonably good fun and certainly the last third whips up the pace and the tension a bit.
I’m going to stray from the point for a little here, though, because I have to say, since the unbelievably atmospheric Dark Winter, McNab’s style seems to have changed so much. I don’t find his books – and this goes for Crossfire too – have the same suspense, atmosphere or descriptive hold on me anymore; and I’ll say this, since I read his first novel in ‘97 and up until Deep Black, I had simply never read a better thriller. I honestly used to feel like I was in a different world reading those books; it was a great escape for me, which I’d never experienced in another writer; he was truly a breath of fresh air.
From Deep Black onwards though, it seems that he’s either changed his style due to pressures from what his publisher perceives as the ‘right’ style of writing / storyline, or that it’s not him writing the books anymore, (or maybe the earlier ones were done by a ghost-writer!). Btw, I know an author who claims to ‘know’ he does use a ghost-writer, but personally I seriously doubt that, for several reasons.
Anyway, for me his last 4 books though just don’t have the intensity, descriptive detail, humour or (effective) unpredictability of the others; moreover the plots seem to stroll about a bit (slightly aimless) and in a way nothing much really seems to happen. I’m thinking in particular of the contrast between Dark Winter, Liberation Day, Firewall and the last four, where these incredibly good 3 previous novels seemed to flow towards some sort of objective / conclusion, with brilliant little bits of humour thrown in. Again, what happened to the little humorous bits??
Well back to Crossfire; certainly the beginning’s good; I’d say far too much time spent on the Iraq bits before the main crux of the plot (the murder of cameraman he’s BGing and the disappearance of his colleague, a journalist – not a plot-spoiler, all there on the dust-jacket!!), and again the action and scene-settings / descriptions were for me just too confusing to visualize. Things certainly get better in London where he meets the odious Yes Man again, after which it’s off on a well-written diversion to Dublin, where we neeearly have a really good stake-out / break-in / recce thing happening (remember how good those used to be, you could almost feel you were there? He’s lost the knack). Then off to Afghanistan, and the narrative gets a bit more like the old McNab again. Again here there’s little of the quirky character-traits of people he encounters that made you feel like you were there in the novels of old; with one exception; his hired driver says ‘maybe’ a lot and that’s quite amusingly handled (maybe…).
A lot of the Afghani section is interesting, but again there seems to be no consistent thread; lots of ‘dropped’ dialogue and narrative, in that stuff is said or mentioned but just seems to fizzle out; encounters with other characters are again not in the same visceral, engaging and realistic vein they used to be (pre-Deep Black).
As the remaining half of the book is effectively spent in Afghanistan, with not an awful lot really happening, I must say, there is some consistency at least from this point onwards. Again, the break-in / rescue scene that he does in most of his books happens but misses a whole dollop of suspense and tension and descriptive content that I thought was so engaging in McNab’s early novels. Do you remember that scene in Crisis Four where he takes a couple of chapters up describing how he breaks into the target’s house and creeps up the stairs with the bow and arrow? Here you get a page’s worth.
Again, later on old characters pop back into the plot clumsily and it all just gets a bit grim. But, from Stone’s inevitable capture to the end of the book, I have to say it’s a pretty consistently good read. The end is particularly satisfying and the last line of the book is good old classic McNab humour again.
Crossfire is slowly working McNab’s novels back into his older, more engaging style; lets hope the next one matches the magic of Firewall, Liberation Day or Dark Winter.
And if anyone knows what’s been going on with the drop in standard of his last few books, please let me know!

[Thanks again for the great review, Matt–I’m sure you’ll get some feedback regarding the drop in quality (I happen to agree with you 100%)–SixtySix]