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Dead Men Risen: The Welsh Guards and the Real Story of Britain's War in Afghanistan [Hardcover]

Toby Harnden
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (126 customer reviews)

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Book Description

17 Mar 2011

WINNER OF THE ORWELL PRIZE 2012.

This is the tale of the Welsh Guards in Helmand in 2009. Underequipped and overstretched, guardsmen from the coal mining valleys and slate quarry villages of Wales found themselves in Helmand in some of the most intense fighting by British troops for more than a generation. They were confronted by a Taliban enemy they seldom saw, facing the constant threat of Improvised Explosive Devices and ambush. Leading them into battle was Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Thorneloe, destined for the highest ranks. He was a passionate believer in the war but was dismayed by how it was being conducted. Dead Men Risen will unnerve politicians and generals alike. In chilling detail, Toby Harnden reveals how and why Thorneloe was killed by an IED during Operation Panther's Claw. Harnden, who had known Thorneloe since they met in Northern Ireland in 1996, was on the ground in Helmand with the Welsh Guards. He draws on a trove of military documents, including many by Thorneloe, the first British battalion commander to die in action since the Falklands war of 1982. Major Sean Birchall left behind an unvarnished account of the shortcomings of the Afghan forces that represent Nato's exit strategy. Lieutenant Mark Evison wrote a diary that raises questions from beyond the grave. It was more than half a century since a British battalion had lost officers at these three key levels of leadership. By the time the fighting was over, almost no rank had been spared.

A visceral and timeless account of men at war, Dead Men Risen conveys what it is like to be a soldier who has to kill, face paralysing fear and watch comrades perish in agony. Given unprecedented access to the Welsh Guards, Harnden conducted more than 300 interviews in Afghanistan, England and Wales. The searing heat of the poppy fields and mud compounds of Helmand to the dreaded knock on the door back home, the reader is transported there. Harnden weaves the experiences of the guardsmen and their loved ones into an unsparing narrative that sits alongside a piercing analysis of military strategy. No other book about modern conflict succeeds on so many levels. Dead Men Risen is essential for anyone who wants to learn the reality of Britain's war in Afghanistan.


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Quercus (17 Mar 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849164215
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849164214
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 24.2 x 6.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (126 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 240,255 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Toby Harnden is the author of Dead Men Risen: The Welsh Guards and the Reality of Britain's War in Afghanistan (Quercus, 2011) and 'Bandit Country': The IRA and South Armagh (Hodder, 1999).

He has been the US Editor of The Daily Telegraph of London since 2006, overseeing all aspects of the Telegraph Media Group's American coverage. He is a weekly columnist on American politics for The Sunday Telegraph and has reported from all 50 US states.

As The Sunday Telegraph's Chief Foreign Correspondent from 2005 to 2006, he reported from all over the world. In 2005, he was imprisoned in Zimbabwe for 14 days after being arrested and charged with "practicing journalism without accreditation".

From 2003, he was Middle East Correspondent of The Daily Telegraph, based in Jerusalem. He spent much of 2004 and 2005 covering the war in Iraq and and was embedded with the US Army's Task Force 2-2 during the Battle of Fallujah in November 2004.

He was in Washington on September 11th 2001. He joined The Daily Telegraph in 1994 as a home news reporter before being posted to Belfast as the newspaper's Ireland Correspondent in 1996. He subsequently covered the Good Friday Agreement and the Omagh bombing of 1998.

Born in 1966, he hails originally from Manchester and took his degree at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, being awarded a First in Modern History in 1988. He served as an officer in the Royal Navy from 1985 to 1994 and now lives with his wife Cheryl and their young children Tessa and Miles in McLean, Virginia.

Product Description

Review

'The best book so far on Britain's military adventure in Afghanistan ... Dead Men Risen will stand as a true, unsparing record of what happened there' Patrick Bishop, author of 3 PARA.

'So vividly rendered that one can almost smell the sweat, the cordite and the acrid scent of fear' Daily Mail.

'Dead Men Risen dilutes the saccarine perception of soldiering and replaces it with the gritty and gruesome reality of war' Patrick Hennessey, author of The Junior Officer's Book Club.

'Desperately moving ... Dead Men Risen is a serious work, far removed from the blood-and-thrills of the Bravo Two Zero school of military literary campaigning. Such books may grip but they do not engage. Harnden's does both' Spectator.

From the Inside Flap

This is the tale of the Welsh Guards in Helmand in 2009. Underequipped and overstretched, guardsmen from the coal mining valleys and slate quarry villages of Wales found themselves in Helmand in some of the most intense fighting by British troops for more than a generation. They were confronted by a Taliban enemy they seldom saw, facing the constant threat of Improvised Explosive Devices and ambush. Leading them into battle was Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Thorneloe, destined for the highest ranks. He was a passionate believer in the war but was dismayed by how it was being conducted. Dead Men Risen will unnerve politicians and generals alike. In chilling detail, Toby Harnden reveals how and why Thorneloe was killed by an IED during Operation Panther's Claw. Harnden, who had known Thorneloe since they met in Northern Ireland in 1996, was on the ground in Helmand with the Welsh Guards. He draws on a trove of military documents, including many written by Thorneloe, the first British battalion commander to die in action since the Falklands war of 1982. Major Sean Birchall left behind an unvarnished assessment of the shortcomings of the Afghan forces that represent Nato's exit strategy. Lieutenant Mark Evison wrote a diary that raises questions from beyond the grave. It was more than half a century since a British battalion had lost officers at these three key levels of leadership. By the time the fighting was over, almost no rank had been spared. A visceral and timeless account of men at war, Dead Men Risen conveys what it is like to be a soldier who has to kill, face paralysing fear and watch comrades perish in agony. Given unprecedented access to the Welsh Guards, Harnden conducted more than 300 interviews in Afghanistan, England and Wales. From the searing heat of the poppy fields and mud compounds of Helmand to the dreaded knock on the door back home, the reader is transported there. Harnden weaves the experiences of the guardsmen and their loved ones into an unsparing narrative that sits alongside a piercing analysis of military strategy.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
53 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dead Men Risen 5 May 2011
Format:Hardcover
As someone living with the after effects of the tour - my son was critically injured by an IED explosion - I thought this was an excellent (if difficult) read.
Toby pulls no punches in his narrative. The MOD should hang their heads in shame. Under resourced and poorly equipped The Guards were up against it. Their spirit and determination shine through and the humour is palpable.
People asked me didn't I get angry when my son was injured? At the time I was just incredibly thankful he was still with us, now reading the catalogue of failings and complete ineptitude of the "top brass" I am feeling anger. Anger on behalf of the families of those who didn't make it back, they lost so much and their lives changed forever, and on a lessor scale, anger for those (and there are many), like my son, whose lives and future will be such an ongoing struggle.

MOD - read and be shamed by your penny pinching, your internal politics, and your incompetance in managing scarce resources. Resources, I might add, that would have saved lives. Lt Colonel Thornaloe was right to criticise the lack of helicopters. The low metal content IED's put every single soldier at risk on a daily basis. Resupply missions by road, based on the IED threat? Justify that if you can.

Everyone else - read and understand our troops are truly outstanding.

Yes it is their job, but think back to BA cabin crew striking over their terms and conditions. The Welsh Guards, and every other soldier out in Helmand, show outstanding fortitude and bravery in difficult conditions whilst coping with appalling resources. I for one am incredibly proud of you all.
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71 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get it, read it, share it! 25 Mar 2011
Format:Hardcover
Dead Men Risen: The Welsh Guards and the Real Story of Britain's War in Afghanistan

After all the hype and furore surrounding this book, I was worried that this book would not live up to it's infamy. I was also worried, that the now famous buy and burn incident, would rip the heart out of the book and this would be just another military biography/account, of which there are plenty on the market. This is not the case.

Dead Men Risen has lived up to the hype. Written in an honest and easy to read manner, this book has something for everyone. If you want an honest and moving account of the war in Afghanistan, the life of a soldier or even if it is to revel in the fact that in all probability the MOD do not want you to read it, then this is the book for you.

I may be biased (my names in the book), but this is truly the best military book I have read. The first book I have read that really puts the soldiers story across in a way that they would be proud of. It does the armed forces and the Welsh Guards battalion in particular the justice it deserves.

In the space of a few pages this story will have you laughing, crying and shaking your head in anger. Whether or not you agree with the politics surrounding the war in Afghanistan, or you have no knowledge of the subject matter contained in it. This book makes up for it in abundance with the pure heartfelt emotions you will feel for the soldiers involved, and will be enlightened by the accurate but easy to understand information contained.

All credit to the author, who obviously did his research, for the entertaining and informative way that it is written. I love this book and I would recommend it to anyone.
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53 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars READ THIS BOOK 18 Mar 2011
By gt
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
An amazing read. Makes you very very proud of the armed forces and equaly angry at the way they are not properly supported. Actually a very important book that should initiate discussion and outrage.

Many individual stories of heroism and brutal sacrifice written simply without embellishment.

Leaves you with the feeling that political expediancy and budget considerations continualy rate higher than the safety of the troops.I have to believe that if ever the government disclosed the real numbers of wounded the British people would demand that our troops be given the resources they need to give them the best possible chances of not being injured, particularly more helicopters. Every page seems to have an incident of maiming by IED that could probably have been avoided if more troops were moved around by chopper.A deeply disturbing read.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truth More Compelling Than Any Movie 14 May 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This powerful account of the Welsh Guards' six month-deployment in Helmand Province in the summer of 2009 does not address its greatest irony: part of their campaign coincided with the period between the submission of General McChrystal's strategic recommendations on 30 August and President Obama's announcement of his response on 1 December, three months when NATO strategy was essentially in limbo. So these men were fighting and dying at a time when there was no clear purpose in the direction of the war at the highest level. However, the book's power lies in the fact that Harnden avoids any hint of polemic. Instead, he lets facts speak for themselves. He brings three sets of skills to his work. First and foremost, he is a journalist, with a keen instinct for a story: he has persuaded a lot of very different people to talk with a frankness that is unusual in the professional military. He is also a historian, using wide background reading to put the campaign in context. Finally, he has an ability to describe events and sketch characters in a few well chosen words that a novelist might envy. It is only the thought that one would not want to trivialise the suffering and sacrifice of real people, or show any hint of disrespect, that suppresses one's immediate reaction that there is the material for a great feature film here. On the other hand, perhaps a film would be a worthy tribute, because the courage and sacrifice of these men deserves to be better known, and because the public needs to be educated about what has been going on their name in Afghanistan. It is the personalities that make this book memorable. Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone should read this book.
A very long book but well worth reading
Published 2 days ago by Mr. R. F. Buxton
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
excellent read
Published 9 days ago by Peter Clements
2.0 out of 5 stars A good book spoiled
Good book spoiled in my opinion by mentioning what school and what uni the officers had attended. I fail to see what that has to do with the forces in Afghan. Read more
Published 27 days ago by m simpson
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very good
Published 2 months ago by malcolm thomas
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
very good
Published 2 months ago by james johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Brilliant.
Published 2 months ago by Paul Waterhouse
5.0 out of 5 stars Stark reality
I found this a difficult book to read, not because it is flawed, it is excellent, but because of the despair I felt for the troops who had to endure this tour in Helmand Province. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Crystal Vision
5.0 out of 5 stars At last. Something of the truth?
Excellent description of the pain, deprivation, camaraderie and rewards of serving in Afghanistan.
Totally absorbing. Hard to put down. 11/10.
Published 4 months ago by PeterOmes
3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating but flawed
It details the appalling under resource of our men in Afganistan. Time and again men are killed or seriously injured due to over ambitious plans, lack of resources and plain simple... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Robert Delamare
5.0 out of 5 stars incredble
An incredibly well written book that shows you exactly what our troops have to go through day to day when deployed. Absolutely wonderful.
Published 5 months ago by Abby S
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