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Dusty Warriors: Modern Soldiers at War [Hardcover]

Richard Holmes
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)

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Book Description

3 April 2006

Our foremost military historian offers us a compelling and at times terrifying account of what it means to be a contemporary soldier, written in the words of the men and women of his regiment who are currently completing a dangerous and bloody six-month tour of duty.

In this remarkable book, Richard Holmes draws on the testimonies of the 700 soldiers of the Princess of Wales Royal Regiment to capture in vivid detail the average soldier's day-to-day experience of war. Embroiled in a conflict often too dangerous for reporters to cover, these soldiers – most of them young, many without any previous experience of warfare – have kept ongoing records of the drudgery, anxiety and horror involved in fighting a violent and increasingly unpopular war against a ruthless and resourceful enemy. All have risked their lives, and many have died. Others have been recognised and awarded for their courage, resourcefulness and gallantry – Private Johnson Beharry recently became the first man to be awarded the Victoria Cross in twenty-three years.

With these intimate and revealing glimpses of life in the modern army, Richard Holmes paints a sweeping portrait of a new generation of soldiers – grunts, gallants and heroes – and the sacrifices their decision to fight for their country entails.



Product details

  • Hardcover: 316 pages
  • Publisher: HarperPress; UNKNOWN edition (3 April 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007212844
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007212842
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 14.8 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 501,153 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Richard Holmes was one of Britain's most successful historians and television presenters. Author of the best-selling Tommy, Redcoat and Wellington: The Iron Duke, he has also written and presented television series for the BBC. As well as serving in the TA, he taught military history at Sandhurst and, latterly, as Professor of Military and Security Studies at Cranfield University and the Royal Military College of Science. Richard Holmes died suddenly on 30 April 2011 from pneumonia, aged 65.

Product Description

Review

‘Richard Holmes is a first-rate writer and with this exciting, affectionate account of his regiment at war he has set a standard for other military authors to aspire to.’ Daily Mail

‘…the action is superbly described…gripping…an important milestone for future generations wanting to understand the British Army and the post-invasion turbulence of Iraq…essential reading.’ Sunday Times

‘You will not be able to put it down…thought-provoking and profoundly perceptive…it is a piece of contemporary military history written with the author's trademark fluency, pace and wit…’ Spectator

Praise for ‘Tommy’:

‘Holmes is one of our foremost military scholars and a skilled writer who knows his audience well. This is excellent popular history: scholarly, highly readable and utterly absorbing.’ Daily Telegraph

‘Monumental … Every page of this is worth reading.’ Time Out

‘Where Holmes’ book comes brilliantly to life is in his use of first-hand accounts of the trench experience … It is Holmes’ achievement to make this familiar landscape come alive with the humanity of those who fought in it.’ Times Literary Supplement

‘Holmes has produced yet another fascinating, balanced and original book of a highly emotive subject. ‘ Sunday Telegraph

Praise for ‘Redcoat’:

‘“Redcoat” is not just a work of history but of enthusiasm and unparalleled knowledge. This is a wonderful book, doing justice to men who have long deserved a chronicler of Richard Holmes’s skill.’ Bernard Cornwell

‘It would be hard to exaggerate the excellence of this book. Vivid, comprehensive, well-written, pacy, colourful.’ Simon Heffer

‘A wonderful book, full of anecdote and good sense. Anyone who has enjoyed a Sharpe story will love it.’ Bernard Cornwell, Daily Mail

‘Beautifully written, “Redcoat” is a vivid account of squalor and suffering almost beyond belief, for the men, their wives and followers, and their horses. One of the best chapters is a description of barrack-room life that will turn a few stomachs in this more fastitidious age.’ John Canon, Times Literary Supplement

‘“Redcoat” is the story of the British soldier from the Seven Year War through to the Mutiny and Crimea. It is consistently entertaining, full of brilliantly chosen anecdotes and rattles along at a good light infantry pace.’ David Crane, Spectator

‘All the best-known soldier writers are discussed here, and their anecdotes are told with enthusiasm and aplomb … This is an army from another world, and “Redcoat” is a splendidly entertaining, moving and informative description of its strengths and foibles.’ Hew Strachan, Daily Telegraph

From the Back Cover

' A compelling and fast-moving narrative of the courage,
restraint and fortitude shown by British soldiers in impossible
circumstances. An important milestone for future generations wanting to
understand the British Army' Sunday Times

Despite 24-hour rolling media coverage of modern conflict few of us
understand what is demanded of the contemporary 'Tommy' - what it's like
when your day job includes grenades, bayonets and night operations. Now, in
Dusty Warriors, we have a compelling, exciting, sometimes terrifying
picture of real life in the modern army.

Foremost military historian Richard Holmes has drawn on the testimonies and
personal photographs of Britsh soldiers in Iraq to vividly capture their
day-to-day experiences - from camp kitchens to the rooftops of Basra and Al
Amarah, from a sweaty improvised gym to the heart of an armoured convoy
barrelling out across the desert.

'First-rate ... with this exciting, affectionate account of his regiment at
war Holmes has set a standard for other military authors to aspire to.'
Daily Mail

'Thought-provoking and profoundly perceptive. This book will open eyes to
the stirring realities of life at the tip of the bayonet' Spectator --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
77 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the real thing 18 April 2006
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Richard Holmes is a distinguished military historian, best known for his TV series for the BBC, including "War Walks" and "Wellington: the Iron Duke", as well as for more than a dozen books on various aspects of the history of the British Army. Unusually for an academic, he's also a soldier, of 36 years standing, and is Colonel of the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment. In summer 2004 the PWRR were sent to southern Iraq. Richard Holmes visited them there, during a period which saw a lot of fierce fighting and one of the regiment's soldiers win the Victoria Cross. He gathered diaries and e-mails from officers and men to compile a first-hand record of their time in Iraq. This book, "on that windswept headland somewhere between journalism and history" as he puts it, is the result.

One of Holmes's great strengths as a military historian is his understanding of, and sympathy for, the private soldier, the ordinary infantryman (and these days also woman) on whom the grand plans of generals and politicians ultimately depend. This comes over in a big way in "Dusty Warriors". In many ways the book is like the soldiers themselves: not macho, not gung-ho, not at all what civilians would expect really, but instead professional, cynical, humorous, searingly honest and grimly realistic. To a demilitarised society like ours where most people have no contact with the military, and no experience of danger, much of the detail will be shocking. But it's how it is. This is a world away from Hollywood and fictional accounts of special forces. This is a real army, our Army, people like us, doing a difficult and dangerous job.

It's also a job that most of the country doesn't even know is being done. Holmes says he wrote this book because the media's coverage of the Army's work in Iraq is so poor.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Vivid Blast of Memories form Iraq 2 April 2006
Format:Hardcover
Another winner from Prof Richard Holmes, telling the tale of the PWRR Battle Group's work in Iraq in 2004. Told largely in the soldiers own words, this book gives a real insight into the life of a modern soldier on an operational tour. The down-to-earth language of soldiers of the British Army conveys the atmosphere of the fighting and the tension of the peace without glorification or trying to bullshit the reader. As someone who was there I can testify to the truth of the accounts, and assure you that the memories came flooding back.
Thoroghly recommended.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
Dusty Warriors is a watershed in the description of the difficulties and tribulations confronting modern soldiers. In the complicated international environment an average 18 year old from Hampshire can find himself an intermediary between political and religious conflicts around the world over the course of a brief 4 year miltary career. Professor Holmes expertly descibes the challenges facing this new breed of 21st Century warriors who are facing the same geographic, physical and moral challanges as their well lauded WW2 contemporaries. The quiet times of a 6 month tour are described alongside the hectic and fearful moments in contact with a ruthless and determined enemy force as well as the hearfelt impact of the loss of their brothers to enemy fire and accidents. A true classic of 21st Century history this is a must read for the general public and historians alike. As one of Profesor Holmes Dusty Warriors myself I cannot recommend this book enough, a classic of our times he has done the soldiers of 2004 a true and worthy service. A grateful Tiger of the Sands...
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Reading for Everyone 5 May 2006
Format:Hardcover
This book should be on the essential reading list for every single person in the UK eligible to vote.

I went to Richard Holmes' talk at the National Army Museum where this was launched, and was priviledged enough to hear and question a number of incidents and experiences recounted. The lasting legacy which stays with me has to be the perverse hypocrisy of living in an age of instant global multi-media, allowing us to carry a battle to a living room in real time, and yet never before in the history of the UK, has a conflict in which our troops are engaged been so little known or understood on its own streets.

This book dispelled a number of myths under which the bulk of the UK population continue to debate and vote under. It reminded me of Robert McNamara's letter to Bill Clinton, where he reiterated his belief that it was the duty of every citizen to question their government's decision to send their youth to war. To do that we must understand exactly what we are sending them into, and this book helps us to do just that.

This may not be his best book, but right now it is definitely Essential Reading.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Filling the void 22 Aug 2007
Format:Paperback
Dusty Warriors is an excellent look at the deployment of an infantry battalion to Iraq in 2004. It covers preparatory training, deployment and some actions of the unit -although it is by no means comprehensive. Using many eye witness statements it is very much a view from the ground up and it is certainly the story of the soldiers experience rather than of strategy.

Richard Holmes has a very accessible writing style, yet does not seem to compromise his language. Therefore, he is extremely good at bringing the unmilitary person into the military world, complete with all its different values, fashions, language and etiquette. This book should be compulsory reading for members of the present government who have so little understanding of the storm they have sent our forces into and how best to support them. Furthermore, with British society often ignorant or apathetic to the operations performed in its name, this book is a vital source for all those inclined to be better informed.

My only complaint is that I would like to have learned more of his opinions on how we should be adapting to the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan; the lessons he learned from this unit study. He certainly will have much to say on this topic but, sadly at the time of writing he still found himself bound (or self regulated?) by his commitment as a serving officer. Therefore, he is perhaps a little too diplomatic in his language and I strongly suspect there are ommissions to this end also -as Lcpl MacQuire hints in his review below. But, that Homes cares very deeply about Britain's soldiers was evident on every page.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Dusty Soldiers
I wish I could write a review of this book that was as good as the book itself. It's a fly on the wall look at the Princess of Wales Royal Regiment (PWRR) on a tour in Iraq... Read more
Published on 17 Mar 2011 by John Middleton
5.0 out of 5 stars DUSTY WARRIORS - RICHARD HOLMES
A stunning bird's eye view of a contemporary British Infantry Regiment, undertaking its duty on our behalf and in the most trying of circumstances. Read more
Published on 30 Jan 2011 by Iain Davidson
5.0 out of 5 stars Dusty Warriors
A very gripping book written with great insight. I particularly liked the style of using short sharp eye witness accounts of the soldiers involved in each incident. Read more
Published on 16 May 2010 by Mr. R. D. Crewdson
3.0 out of 5 stars More regimental history than reality
23 reviews all in praise of the master; lets be different, shall we?

If you want something approaching an official regimental history of the Prince of Wales Royal... Read more
Published on 17 Sep 2008 by P. Andrews
3.0 out of 5 stars Can't see the desert for the sand at times
Richard Holmes hits the nail on the head in his preface when he discusses the challenge in striking the right balance between journalism and history. Read more
Published on 7 Aug 2008 by SAP
5.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling book from soldiers' first hand accounts
As both an eminent historian and the Colonel of PWRR, Richard Holmes had unique access to the first hand accounts of the soldiers across the battalion featured in this story and... Read more
Published on 3 April 2008 by Richard Butlin
5.0 out of 5 stars Cap Badge at its best
Richard Holmes was the Colonel of the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, a new regiment assembled out of the historical regiments of South East England. Read more
Published on 8 Mar 2008 by Charles Vasey
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but slightly bias.
A cracking book if you want to understand the mentality and courage of the average soldier responding to a difficult situation. Read more
Published on 4 Oct 2007 by A. J. Grogan
5.0 out of 5 stars It's that bloke off the telly
Good read! I had expected this to be heavy going but the author does a great job interspersing his own narrative with quotes from the guys who were there. It is hectic. Read more
Published on 28 Sep 2007 by kevarms
5.0 out of 5 stars A testement to the modern squaddie
Dusty Warriors tells the story of an intense period in the peace keeping phase that followed the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003. Read more
Published on 6 Jun 2007 by Les Howard
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