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Desperate Glory: At War in Helmand with Britain's 16 Air Assault Brigade Hardcover – 7 Sep 2009


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (7 Sept. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747599963
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747599968
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 1.7 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 520,808 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

'There is no one better to tell this story than Sam Kiley. One of the most intrepid foreign correspondents of our generation, he delves into the heart and soul of battle. Kiley has never been afraid to tell the truth - his long career in Africa, the Balkans and the Middle East is a testament to that. If you want to know why men wage war - read this' -- Janine di Giovanni

About the Author

Award-winning journalist Sam Kiley has covered wars and insurgencies in more than thirty countries over the last twenty years. Educated at Oxford University, he joined The Times in 1987, and since 1990 has worked as a foreign correspondent all over the world, most notably in Africa, where he won acclaim for his coverage of conflicts in the Congo, Somalia, Rwanda and Sierra Leone. He has worked extensively in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taleban and has made more than twenty television films for Channel Four, Sky 1 and the BBC. He is a frequent contributor to the Mail on Sunday, the Evening Standard, the Observer, The Times and the Spectator. Married and a father of two, Sam Kiley lives in the countryside of East Anglia.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By J. Williamson on 1 Sept. 2009
Format: Hardcover
I was serving in Helmand with c company 2 para last summer and was injured on July 7th. C company and their exploits form a large part, in fact the backbone of Desperate Glory. I met Sam Kiely on the dark side last summer and because his book followed our clan so closely I was waiting with trepidation to recieve my copy. I can honestly say that it is one of the best accounts of men at war in modern battle that I have read (and believe me I have read quite a number). I found the book increadibly well observed, compelling, at times touching but above all very very well written and structured. Sam thanks for such a great tribute to what we did last summer. See you at the book launch.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By R. F. Burlinson on 11 Jan. 2010
Format: Hardcover
As an American, I found it most interesting to see the War in Afghanistan from a different perspective. The son of a very close friend from Surrey has done two tours in Iraq. Reading a review of "Desperate Glory....." in the Economist, I was prompted to order this book, which is not available in the US. The professionalism of the British soldiers, their frustration of being used to hold ground with inadequate forces after the ground has been taken by US troops was quite enlightening. The quality of writing puts one in the trenches with them, experiencing the heat, the deprivation, their uneasiness with the locals and their wonderment of just what the "mission" is and how is "victory" defined. This is a very good read, enhancing one's insight for what we are enduring in these troubled times.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Tristan Martin VINE VOICE on 23 Sept. 2012
Format: Hardcover
British journalist Sam Kiley was the only writer who spent a full six month tour with UK armed forces in Afghanistan (April - October, 2008). While some of the material in this book has already been covered, such as in Patrick Bishop's 3 Para and Ground Truth books, never has it been so richly rendered as in Desperate Glory.

Some reviewers, it seems, have taken umbrage with the "flowery descriptions" of sunsets and landscapes in this book. If Kiley is to accurately represent the experiences of young people at war in a foreign land, then the environment in which they are doing this must be accurately rendered. The ever-present dust and the blistering heat are as much a part of these experiences as the lack of suitable equipment and the road-side bombs. Compared to Michael Herr's brilliant writing in the Vietnam classic Dispatches, where Herr presents war as some kind of psychedelic bad acid trip, Kiley's writing is quite muted.

Kiley must be congratulated on never placing himself centre stage, of never flattering himself on how dangerous his expedition was; this is self-evident. While not making himself a part of the story, though, Kiley doesn't quite achieve the superb level of writing that marks the best in this genre, such as Evan Wright's Generation Kill, or the aforementioned Dispatches. Desperate Glory is a much more workmanlike piece of reportage.

Sam Kiley has written in Desperate Glory a snapshot of British lives in Afghanistan and this book may well perhaps come to be regarded as a valuable account of what the UK was doing there, how little we achieved and at what cost in blood and treasure, both theirs and ours. This book gives all of us, the families and friends of those serving, politicians who sent our people there and the citizenry as a whole, a troubling account of this most bloody of fool's errands.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By BeccaB123 on 4 Sept. 2009
Format: Hardcover
I found this book intriguing and very enlightening. I for one appreciate the motive SK had for writing this book, to be the voice for those fighting on our behalf. I feel I have a slightly better understanding of what those brave men endure and some of their motivation....we will never fully understand! I found myself moved to tears by the accounts of the loss of their colleagues / brothers and the compassion (amidst the jokes) these fighting men have for each other.
A real eye opener.... definitely worth reading, you wont be able to put it down!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By M. Webb on 24 Sept. 2009
Format: Paperback
I was deployed in Afghanistan and met Sam Kiley a few times, in the book he gives a frank, honest and very realistic view of the work out there as well as the fundamental gallantry of the youg lads serving and fighting every day. I bought the book at lunch time and had finished it by dinner! I really cannot recommend this highly enough! The best Afghanistan account that is out there.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By E. Watts on 6 Oct. 2009
Format: Hardcover
Desperate Glory is genuinely unputdownable - I read the whole thing in just two sittings.

The first thing that hit me was the vivid depiction of combat: relentless, exhilarating, and horrific. Kiley's words fly at you like a hail of bullets; his prose puts you there, in the heat and the dust, with rounds zinging past your ears.

It also reveals the depressing reality of our war in Helmand with specific, shocking revelations.

I had never understood before that British troops can't walk more than 2km outside their Forward Operating Bases without coming under Taleban onslaught.

Or that insurgents are so good at removing their dead, the British often don't know how many they've killed. That fact alone detonates a bomb under the neat round-number body counts of ISAF press releases - echoes of Vietnam.

Yet the aspect of the book I found most interesting - and disturbing - was its insights into the mentality of our soldiers, almost one hundred years after the slaughter of the First World War.

Gone is the agonising of Wilfred Owen, whose Dulce et Decorum Est gives the book its title. Today's soldiers don't just want to fight; they love fighting. Killing seventeen human beings is a great day at the office.

Not that I condemn them for it. But it's disturbing to know that, despite all the advances of our civilisation, war can still be a source of joy as much as horror.

So exciting, revelatory, thought-provoking... this book comes highly recommended.
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