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If you have ever wondered what a contemporary soldier is like; what he does and why, this may provide some of the answers. It is detailed, personal, witty and highly listenable.
While the book takes a brief tour of Hennessey's other military experience, it focuses on his time in the Afghan war. I ended the book knowing a lot more about how contemporary wars are fought, and having enjoyed some very good storytelling.
The socio-political background is better explained in Patrick Bishop's 'Ground Truth,' but this first-hand account is unmissable.
The author reads it, and his ironic, dark, dry wit may be clearer here than in the printed version (online reviews suggest that some hard-copy readers can't tell when he is kidding and when he isn't). This is an example of a work that is probably stronger as an audiobook than in printed form.
The book shows how the weapons, navigation, logistics and communications technology of the ISAF (the Western coalition) make firefights very one-sided affairs. However, it also spells out how dangerous life can be on the ISAF side. The author claims that the casualty rate in UK frontline infantry is about one in three. Official ratios count personnel who are not in close contact with the enemy and are thus much lower.
I should mention that, in common with some other reviewers, I also ended the book with a powerful dislike for the author. I don't think he intends this, and in an odd way, it is actually one of the book's delights. In that respect, it has something in common with Toby Young's 'How to Lose Friends and Alienate People.'
You won't find much about the lives, characters, motivations, emotions and thoughts of the author's friends and colleagues. I got the impression that he sees the rest of the human race simply as scenery: a collection of good blokes, odd blokes, Afghans and girls; all of whom are adequately explained and described in a sentence each. Which is probably handy if your job involves shooting people, but I wouldn't want to listen to him in a pub. I would have expected a richer view than this from a man with a first-rate education and who has been around people in extremes of fear and danger.
Whatever you make of the previous two paragraphs, I do recommend the book, and after listening to it, you probably will too.
Really enjoyed this audiobook. It is a well written and well narrated account of life on the front line and of particular interest to me was the honest description of the conflicting emotions the author experienced before, during and after his involvement in war. It gives a different perspective which I found refreshing.
This is a must.
As a former NCO, and subsequently commissioned Officern the British Army, this purchase was a no-brainer.
Patrick Hennessey delivers the book in such a beautifully 'Army' manner you could close your eyes and feel you are back in an 'O Group' (orders group).
His delivery is filled with charm and a boyish bounce which is often in stark contrast the the content.
You feel every ounce of his emotions, yet his stiff upper lip approach fills you with confidence that he is a good Infantry Officer. The type you'd fight for.
In contrast to your SAS war hero book, Hennessey delivers his heart in a way the kit monsters from the Regiment do not.
He would be a charming dinner and drinks companion and someone with whom you could chat away with for hours.
This is an absolute must.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
Excellent book, I would love to fault it but I cannot. Having attended RMAS at around this time I can recognise a lot of the individuals and the author has been true to their characters. The book was read in an easy, relaxed way which was great to listen to and one that brought it to life. Strongly recommended to any current serving officer or recently engaged, it will make you laugh, cringe and cry,a must buy if your about to go on tour as it will take you to a much nicer place.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful