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on 9 March 2009
At any other time, I would have given this 5 stars. It's a geat book, read it in a weekend and it clearly conveys the reality of the action. Unluckily for Lewis, Ed Macy's staggeringly good account raises the bar and in comparison, Apache Dawn can't compete.

It comes second for two reasons.

First, it is largely a combat diary of events and the writer is retelling events as they were told to him. Just as Dan Mills beats Patrick Bishop (Sniper One vs 3 Para), Ed Macy is able to convey his own experiences first hand. This makes the story that much more compelling.

Second, the awe inspiring machine that is the Apache and the skill required to get the most out of it seems to be lacking in Lewis's book. The Apache is like no other weapon out there and I was left disappointed that relatively little time was spent on it. For example, Macy includes full cutaway diagrams and talks about how the pilots train to use their eyes independently. Both are wholly excluded by Lewis.

So whilst it is most definitely worth the read, just make sure you do so before Apache.
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Apache Dawn is an account of "Flight Ugly's" tour of duty in the infamous Helmand Province of Afghanistan in the summer of 2007. The pilots tell of their first tentative shots fired in anger and the subsequent vital and decisive role played by the Army Air Corps Apaches - from search and destroy killing machine to casevac (casualty evacuation) escort for the Chinooks. We are told some of the technical details of the Apache, but not as many as I would have liked. The weapons description is good, from the "eyeline" 30mm cannons to the aptly named Hellfire missile and lethal flechettes (tungsten darts). By the end of the book I had learnt a lot about these and was sometimes questioning his use of a particular weapon in certain cases. Now why didn't he use the Hellfire on that pick-up? There is a useful, but unfortunately not exhaustive glossary at the back.

Lewis (a war reporter) describes the events well, from routine escorts to full-on battles, notably Rahim Kalay and finally the epic Operation Chakush where their skills were put to the test against a tenacious enemy and their own battle fatigue. The Apache is one hell of a well-equipped and technically advanced machine and was certainly put to good use in the deserts and mountains of Helmand. The Taliban soon learnt to fear and curse the infernal "mosquitoes" but could not down them, helped in no small part by the aircrafts' own automatic defense systems. RPGs just had to be avoided! Enemy and friend tactics are contrasted, especially the "rules of engagement" which the USAF apparently don't adhere to quite as strictly as the British.

Having finished and enjoyed this book however, I cannot escape the feeling that it was slightly over-hyped. It is not a fluent read, and repeats itself from time to time, the text sometimes going a bit flowery. The author describes the Apache's role and deployment in Afghanistan well but apart from Rahim Kalay and Chakush where the ground troops are in severe danger, the delivery can be quite dry and detached in parts, possibly as it was not written first-hand. I get the impression that Lewis may have had his "wings clipped" by the MOD and would have liked to say more but was unable to do so. In the same way, he was maybe "nudged" in the direction of only positive statements in a slightly propaganda-ist way. The only anti-establishment comments in the entire book were directed at the H&S who would not let the pilots have bacon rolls for fear of food poisoning. Quite happy to let them fly their aircraft above Taliban RPG's though.

There is an epilogue which also remembers those that were not fortunate enough to make the homeward journey alive. I don't read many military books but probably enjoyed Sniper One slightly more than this one, possibly because it was very candid and all told in Sgt Dan Mills' own words. I will possibly read Apache for another perspective and more technical info some day as well. These are awesome machines and I'd like to know more.

Overall a good and informative read but I feel it could have been better had it been written by one of the pilots themselves. about it ??
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on 26 September 2013
Overall, an excellent book that gives an amazing insight into a world we the British public get to hear so little of. For me it's heightened the deep respect and admiration I've always had throughout all of my life for our armed forces men and women. They need to know that whilst the majority of ordinary people find war as abhorrent as they do, that the majority of British people support them, are proud of them and feel their loss deeply when it occurs. Thank you all for everything you do to protect our country. Please keep yourselves as safe as you can. Thank you Damien for an amazing insight into the world of the Apache air crew.
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This is the tale of British Apaches and their pilots deployed in Afghanistan. These incredible (and deadly) machines were key in both ground support and escort duty for the Chinooks evacuating injured servicemen.

This is familiar territory, Ed Macy produced two excellent books as did Charlotte Madison (the first female apache pilot out there). I've also read some books by the ground troops so throughout this I felt as if I knew everyone and the incidents were quite familiar, if told from a different perspective. My slight confusion is that they all use pseudonyms, so for instance Ed Macy is a pseudonym and here he is given a different pseudonym!

But the action is thick and fast, the pilots come over as ultra-professional and keen to stick by the rules. Some of the most interesting points here are how worried they are about friendly fire, where the Taliban have no issues shielding themselves with women and children as they know the Brits will play by the rules. Aldo interesting about the balance on flying time and safety and the need to be out there providing air cover to troops under fire.

Author Lewis does a good job, perhaps under-shadowed by Macy's book but this is an interesting account of brave men (and woman!) and their deadly flying machines.
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on 31 August 2013
I lived every moment with them. I think all our boys & girls do a great job out there or where ever they are serving.

Being X service myself ( Royal Navy) I can see what they are talking about. More people should read books like these.
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on 5 November 2013
A very good military book,its a different sort of read and it certainly opens your eyes, it opens your eyes to what goes on, would recommend.
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on 28 May 2009
Apache Dawn is a welcome addition to the increasing number of titles about the conflict in Afghanistan.

What makes Apache Dawn different is Damien Lewis' ability to let the pilots of 662 Squadron speak for themselves. He doesn't impose his own authorial voice and you get a true sense of the extraordinary comradeship which bound these men together as a band of brothers during their tour of the Afghan badlands of southern Helmand.

As a seasoned reporter Lewis writes fluently and concisely and the narrative is all the better for this. He vividly depicts the white knuckle tension of flying through a sand storm, trying to get back to base with almost no fuel after a prolonged engagement against Taliban forces. Lewis also tells of the frustration of being rested and waiting on standby as other flight teams are called into combat and there are also light hearted moments- not least when one of the pilots burns his arse on a metal toilet seat, cooked by the 40 degree heat.

The bravery of the Apache pilots in Afghanistan is without parallel. They have saved countless lives in and have been instrumental in dealing a severe blow to the Taliban's effectiveness. If you see an Army Air Corps pilot don't forget to thank him (or her). They deserve out undying gratitude.

Hats off to Damien Lewis for telling us about them.
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on 10 May 2015
It was a good read, although some of the early pages were quite technical. The descriptions of action in Afghanistan were incredible and opened my eyes to what went on. It was unfortunate that people had to die under such circumstances, but it was unavoidable as things were.
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on 16 January 2015
Excellent book following the Army Air Corps to Afghanistan. The book does justice to the workhorse that the Apache has become. From saving ISAF lives on casevac missions to taking the fight to the enemy the book has it all.
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on 8 November 2010
This isn't a bad book and does give an interesting inside story on what has happened and continues to happen in Afghanistan. But the writing style wasn't brilliant with much of the book being disjointed. The major engagements are described quite well, but the author only covers the story from the air, so you never get the full story of what was going on. A book that combined the thoughts from those in the air AND those on the ground, would be a much better read. The author also gets a bit carried away in an American gung ho way from time to time, yet there are moments of humility too. A good effort, but could have been better.
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