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Best-selling author Toby Harnden describes how men from the coal mining valleys and slate quarry villages of Wales found themselves in the most intense combat faced by British troops for a generation. Underequipped and overstretched, the fighting prowess of the Welsh Guards in the killing fields of Sangin and Nawa awed the US Marines. NATO commander General Stanley McChrystal, who was awaiting a response to his urgent request to President Barack Obama for more troops, hailed their "burn-in-your-gut passion".
Harnden was on the ground with the Welsh Guards in Helmand in 2009. He gained access to a trove of secret military documents and conducted nearly 300 interviews in Afghanistan, England, Wales, and the United States to produce this timeless and profound account of men at war.
Commanding the Welsh Guards was Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Thorneloe, a passionate believer in the justness of the war who was dismayed by the military and political incompetence surrounding it. In chilling detail, Harnden reveals how and why Thorneloe - the first British battalion commander to die in action since the 1982 Falklands War - was killed by an IED during Operation Panther's Claw. By the time the fighting was over, almost no rank had been spared.
The listener is transported from the searing heat of the poppy fields and the mud compounds of Helmand to the dreaded knock on the door back home. Harnden weaves the experiences of the soldiers, their historical forbears, and the flawed NATO strategy into a masterly narrative. No other book about modern conflict succeeds on so many levels. This is essential for anyone who wants to understand the reality of the Afghan war for the US and its allies.
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By Paul on 09-17-16
Very sobering look at Britain's involvement in Afghanistan
I was very surprised to see Britain's efforts in Afghanistan result from poor planning, understaffing, and lack of helicopter support. The Brits have always seemed to be well prepared and equipped for their military actions (Falklands excluded). To see them overstretched for lack of manpower, and forced to use IED infested roads for the lack of even basic helicopter support. One has to feel great compassion for them as they do their best despite inj
adequate support. So many unnecessary injuries and deaths because the political party in power failed to provide adequate manpower and support. The degree to which they did succeed is testament to their pluck and pride. A very good book!