Review Written By
Karen Chisholm

BRAVO TWO ZERO is the identifying sign given to an eight-man British Special Air Service patrol that was sent into Iraq to find and destroy a major land-line telecommunications link and Iraqi Scud missile launchers during the Gulf War.

Andy McNab is the leader of the ill-fated, and some would say doomed from the start patrol, which is landed right into the middle of a major Iraqi troop staging area, on foot, backed up with radio frequencies that wouldn't work and up against it from the start. When they are seen by a local child who reports them to the Iraqi army then their attempts to escape are mostly unsuccessful. They did manage to reach a designated emergency pickup point, but rescue aircraft never arrive. They then attempt to follow a 300km long escape route to Syria but after getting separated, and suffering from hypothermia and severe weather (including snow), four members of the team are captured, three die and only one makes it into Syria. The captured team members are then repeatedly tortured and interrogated by Iraqi authorities until being repatriated out of Iraq in a series of prisoner exchanges.

The Regiment (as the SAS is known) is made up of a certain style of soldier - they are tough, rough and trained to expect anything and handle everything. They call a spade a shovel and take their roles as soldiers very very seriously. Andy McNab has a certain style in his writing of BRAVO TWO ZERO that is very no-holds barred, to the point and graphic. Much like, one would expect, they would talk amongst themselves.

This is a true war story - there's no room for moral consideration of who or what is right in any of this - it's very brutal on all sides. The SAS team are tortured mercilessly and the descriptions of that are extremely graphic - but on the other side, killing people is something that they regard quite matter of factly as part of their own plans.

Definitely a book for those who like their war stories unspun.

Year of Publication

In January 1991, eight members of the SAS regiment embarked upon a top secret mission that was to infiltrate them deep behind enemy lines. Under the command of Sergeant Andy McNab, they were to sever the underground communication link between Baghdad and north-west Iraq, and to seek and destroy mobile Scud launchers. Their call sign: BRAVO TWO ZERO.

Each man laden with 15 stone of equipment, they patrolled 20km across flat desert to reach their objective. Within days, their location was compromised. After a fierce fire fight, they were forced to escape and evade on foot to the Syrian border. In the desperate action that followed, though stricken by hypothermia and other injuries, the patrol 'went ballistic'. Four men were captured. Three died. Only one escaped. For the survivors, however, the worst ordeals were to come. Delivered to Baghdad, they were tortured with a savagery for which not even their intensive SAS training had prepared them.

Bravo Two Zero is a breathtaking account of Special Forces soldiering: a chronicle of superhuman courage, endurance and dark humour in the face of overwhelming odds.

Review BRAVO TWO ZERO - Andy McNab
Karen Chisholm
Monday, October 1, 2007

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