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Holding The Zero Paperback – 5 Feb 2001


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Product details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Corgi; New edition edition (5 Feb. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552146668
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552146661
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 3.2 x 17.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 567,273 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Gerald Seymour was a reporter at ITN for fifteen years, where his first assignment was covering the Great Train Robbery in 1963. He later covered events in Vietnam, Borneo, Aden, the Munich Olympics, Israel and Northern Ireland.

Seymour's first novel was the acclaimed thriller Harry's Game, set in Belfast, which became an instant bestseller and later a television series. Six of Seymour's thrillers have now been filmed for television in the UK and US.

Gerald Seymour has been a full-time writer since 1978. The Dealer and the Dead is his twenty-seventh novel.

Product Description

Review

'A brilliant storyteller' (Sunday Express)

'Refreshingly original...Another gem from the master of the modern adventure story' (The Times)

'As good as ever on dusty forgotten battles...has a singular voice and the gift of making the reader read on' (Guardian)

'Bears all the hallmarks of a master writer' (Daily Telegraph)

'Mesmerizing' (The Sunday Times)

Book Description

The breathtaking new novel from the author of A Line in the Sand.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Joe HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on 11 Oct. 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Several years ago, David Robbins authored a novel, WAR OF THE RATS, the plot of which revolved around the duel between two snipers, a Soviet and a German, amidst the WWII Stalingrad battlefield. HOLDING THE ZERO, by Gerald Seymour, is at least equal, if not better, in portraying the sniper's esoteric art.
It's a couple of years before Operation Iraqi Freedom, and the British government receives word of a sighting of one of Her Majesty's subjects roaming northern Iraq with a bloody big sniper rifle and a band of Kurdish fighters led by a charismatic peasant girl, Meda. The witness even provides a name, Augustus Henderson Peake. Captain Willet of the Ministry of Defense is tasked, along with a representative from the Security Service, to investigate Peake and report on his mind set, motivation and training. How much trouble can Peake cause for Her Majesty's government? From the very beginning, Willet knows that Peake has no military background, is the transport manager in an English haulage firm, and is a civilian, award-winning, target shooter. Willet's initial assessment is that Peake will not survive whatever foolish venture in which he's involved himself.
In the meantime, Peake is Meda's secret weapon as her growing band of Kurds advances out of its mountain fastness and wins a series of increasingly ambitious skirmishes with Saddam Hussein's army. The ultimate goal is to take Kirkuk, headquarters of the Iraqi Fith Army and a city sacred to the Kurdish nationalists. The Iraqi Army sends out its best sniper, Major Karim Aziz, to intercept and kill Meda's sharpshooter.
HOLDING THE ZERO is one of the more complex of Seymour's novels that I've read to date.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By I bite on 25 Jan. 2011
Format: Paperback
I'll come clean. I was trained as an army sniper; not the full monty but at regimental level which is not so intense as the full School of Infantry course. However it does give me a good background from which to comment on Holding the Zero. In my day we had re-barrelled Lee Enfield No.4 rifles with 4-power telescopic sights, chambered to take the 7.62mm Nato round. Sniper rifles have come on in leaps and bounds since then with both British and Canadian snipers taking out enemy targets at over 2.4 kilometres in Afghanistan.
So Gerald Seymour has done his homework and done it well.
If my title suggests some reluctance in praising this work it's because it did not altogether suspend disbelief. As clever as Gerald was in countering suggestions that a civilian could not cope with the rigours of sniper warfare, drip feeding Gus Peake's, the civilain marksman's training, with back story, for me it did not quite ring true. Neither did the idea of the Kurds following a peasant girl into battle. Shades of Joan of Arc meets the Enemy at the Gates.
In some places the storyline became a little too complex which tended to slow down the action. This was compounded by a typesize that tended to crowd the page with words. There were times when I nearly gave up on reading it.
He made the setting seem real even if the characters lacked sympathy; somehow I never quite got on Gus's side, perhaps even having more sympathy for the Iraqi army Major Karim Aziz, who was his opponent.
I have a great respect for Gerald Seymour's writing talent but possibly, in this case, content and substance isn't quite enough to carry the heart.
On the plus side, Gerald Seymour is a masterful writer who can knit a story together better than most.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A. Perry-Smith on 22 May 2001
Format: Paperback
I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of reading this book and was loath to put it down. Seymour's characters always have a gritty reality that makes it easy to identify with them. The action is fast paced and doesn't let up from the first page, but nor does it lack realism and detail.
Make sure that you have plenty of time available when you open the cover - once you start to read, you will not want to put this book down.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 15 May 2001
Format: Paperback
I have read some good books in my time, from The Lord Of The Rings and Watership Down, to Rainbow Six, The Dune Series, and The Worldwar/Colonisation series. And let me say that I have never read anything as bloody good as this! Everything about this book is perfect, especially the storyline and the characters within. The detail is there at just about the right level, giving specifications that give you an image rather than a headache. And the two simultaneous storylines of Gus in the field and of the security service back in England drip feeds you background, familiarising you with Gus - making him into a real person rather than a simple character. As I said, this is - to me - the single best book I have ever read. obviously the idea of two snipers in Iraq isn't going to appeal to everyone, but if you are even remotely interested in this kind of thing then you will almost certainly love this book as much as i did.
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By Siriam TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 17 Oct. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have read every novel by Gerald Seymour though due to timing as here not always in order (refer my final comment on this).

This novel shows all the Seymour trademarks of a well researched story (the Kurds in Saddam era Iraq post the first Gulf Conflict and the use of snipers in battles and armed conflicts) and the usual elaborate intertwining of different characters, plots and sub-plots. What is constant in this as in in nearly all Seymour novels are key characters who are either out of their depth or driven by a mix of history, duty, religion or pride, but each has a special skill that opens them to manipulation by others for different ends.

I think the other reviews cover these aspects in enough detail already and so avoid any need on my part to repeat the details, but I would add a few additional thoughts:

1. This is not the first time Seymour has used snipers (especially "At close quarters") or the tracking techniques germane to that art ( notably "A line in the sand") in his novels, though the use of stories from the history of sniping shows greater research application of the art in the story and probably flesh out to 500 pages what would have been a much shorter novel otherwise.

2. I actually found the techniques and historical tales on sniping aspects taking over from the storytelling and the rigorous plotting one usually associates with Seymour's novels.
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