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Investment in Blood: The True Cost of Britain's Afghan War Hardcover – 31 May 2013


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (31 May 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 030019062X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300190625
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 16.5 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 303,627 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

Frank Ledwidge has written a thoughtful book about the British experience in Iraq and Afghanistan - Losing Small Wars: British Military Failure in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, after months of research and in-depth interviews with participants, he has written a sober follow-up, Investment in Blood: The True Cost of Britain's Afghan War. --Keith Simpson, Total Politics

[...]superbly well researched and lacking the shock and awe of statistics that other authors may have chosen to use. Definitely recommended reading, particularly for those seeking a single concise book that captures the essence of the Afghanistan conflict from a UK perspective. --Army Rumour Service (arrse.co.uk)

Investment in Blood is a damning account of the conflict. For those who criticised the operation as a political mistake and strategic disaster, it will reaffirm their greatest fears. For those who have indeed invested blood, sweat and tears, it will prove a deeply depressing read. --Terri Judd, The Independent

About the Author

Frank Ledwidge spent fifteen years as a Naval reserve military intelligence officer, retiring in 2008 with the rank of Lieutenant Commander. He served on front-line operations in the Balkan wars and Iraq, where he commanded British and multi-national units. In civilian life he practised as a criminal barrister for eight years before specialising in international development and human rights law. He has since worked as a civilian advisor all over the world, including in Afghanistan and most recently Libya. He is the author of 'Losing Small Wars: British Military Failure in Iraq and Afghanistan' (2011).

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Frank Ledwidge's new book is stunning. There's a fluency and confidence to his writing that was present only in places in Losing Small Wars. The writing is crisper, his arguments tighter and conclusions more assertive.

In this book, be begins by summarising and updating the arguments he made in Losing Small Wars. This was a helpful refresher. However, if you haven't read his earlier book, this may be insufficient. It would have been easy for the author to adopt an indignant or emotional tone given the conclusive evidence of the damage and appalling lack of leadership at the higher levels of the British military. However, you get none of it from Ledwidge - just a clinical argument that calmly builds into a storm as you work through the book. He takes a deeply conservative approach to calculating the cost and the damage of the conflict. The figures are still staggering and the conservatism makes his assessment even more powerful-it was a colossal mistake and we will be suffering the consequences for decades.

Ledwidge shows his ex-military pedigree with a staunch refusal to play to the crowds. He challenges the sentimental approach to how many treat our war dead. Instead he asserts that everyone who went to war was a volunteer and, as one soldier says, "I took my chances, but they didn't work out" Instead he recommends "a realistic and firm realisation: "We sent them, now we must take care of the consequences." As Ledwidge shows, we (GB) are not doing this at any level.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amphibian on 19 Nov. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Anybody who has read the author's earlier Afghan war book `Losing Small Wars' will be in awe of his advocacy in appealing to the national conscience, his capacity for deep and meaningful research, and his articulacy. The follow up does not disappoint, and will give many a politician and military leader pause for thought. The lessons that come out of this latest flirtation with the scene of so many of our previous military disasters will be glaringly obvious to all. Sadly the hubris, self delusion and capacity for deception that seems to afflict so many who would seek to influence the fortunes of the electorate in a capitalist society today will continue to override rational thought and a genuine desire to do well by their fellow men, and will persist in the endeavour to subvert the humanitarian instincts of most right minded individuals. Moreover, their readiness to exploit the exuberance, loyalty and adventurous inclinations of an armed force whose professionalism remains undimmed, but whose self confidence has been severely shaken by the nonsensical nature of the task that they were set, will, probably, remain undiluted. Ledwidge's sympathies lie very firmly and correctly with the victims of, so called, `collateral damage'. If ever there was a collective demonstration of the indiscriminate nature of a `surgical' strike, Helmand was its witness, and it makes ever stronger the case for `boots on the ground'! Unfortunately the hostility of potential battlegrounds will seldom make for easy intervention, and, the chances are that logic, reason and a dab of humility will continue to elude those who purport to be acting in the national interest!

Amphibian
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Format: Hardcover
The following review, published on 16th June 2013, was written by Sherard Cowper Cowles, previously the UK's Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan. The original review can be found at [...]

"** Investment in Blood by Frank Ledwidge: A devastating indictment of the utter, unanswerable folly of Afghanistan **

Frank Ledwidge, once a "justice adviser" in Britain's para-colonial administration in Helmand, has produced a devastating indictment of Britain's military intervention in southern Afghanistan. If those of us complicit in the error were ever brought to justice, he says, this would be the case for our prosecution.

Investment in Blood: the True Cost of Britain's Afghan War
Frank Ledwidge
Yale University Press, 304pp, £18.99

Frank Ledwidge was a "justice adviser" in Britain's para-colonial administration in Helmand. As well as spending 15 years as a naval reserve officer, he once practised as a barrister - and it shows. In a closely argued book, he produces a devastating indictment of the utter, unanswerable folly of Britain's military intervention in southern Afghanistan. If those of us complicit in the error were ever brought to justice, this would be the case for our prosecution.

Ledwidge begins by putting the campaign in Helmand in context, before describing British casualties in terms of those killed and those whose bodies or minds have been broken in the fighting. More of our soldiers have died in Afghanistan than in any other counter-insurgency campaign overseas since the Boer war. Ledwidge exhibits sympathy for our casualties, while reminding us that they were all volunteers, doing a job most loved.

The same cannot be said of the unnumbered Afghan civilians caught up in the conflict.
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