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Razor's Edge: The Unofficial History of the Falklands War [Hardcover]

Hugh Bicheno
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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Book Description

9 Mar 2006
For five years before the Falklands War, Hugh Bicheno was one of the top British spies in Argentina. As such, he gathered hard, corroborated intelligence on Argentine intentions over the Falklands - which the British establishment then chose to ignore. The reasons behind this British decision, and its disastrous and inevitable consequences in the South Atlantic, are the main story of this book. There were three main players in the war, each of them trying to overcome their own cultural baggage. The Argentinians were riddled with guilt: after years of fighting a morally repugnant campaign against its own people, the Argentine military saw a war for the Malvinas islands as a perfect opportunity to win back their self-respect. The hands of the Americans were also bloody from the likewise dirty wars they had sponsored and abetted in Central America, involving first Argentine and later British mercenaries (and as a former mercenary in Central America, the author has first-hand knowledge of this too). For Britain, baffled by the parlous state of the country at the beginning of the 1980s, the defence of the Falklands was a gesture towards their long-gone imperial splendour. The incredible fact that they did not make a mess of it, like they had done with so much, is one of the central themes of the book.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson; 1st Edition edition (9 Mar 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297846337
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297846338
  • Product Dimensions: 23.3 x 16.2 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 432,216 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'Bicheno is not a mincer of words... he understands how battles are fought, and explains those of the Falklands perhaps better than any other writer has done... he has done us all a service by explaining them so well for a new generation.' (Max Hastings DAILY MAIL)

'gripping' (John Keegan DAILY TELEGRAPH)

'a hard-hitting account of a short, sharp war. Well written and brilliantly illustrated. In short, a cracking read.' (THE GUNNER)

'Very detailed, ends a lot of myths. Fascinating and illuminating battle accounts.' (SCOTTISH LEGION NEWS)

Book Description

The controversial memoir of a top British spy which finally reveals what really went on behind the scenes of the Falklands War --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
80 of 85 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best account of the Falklands War. 21 April 2006
Format:Hardcover
This is a remarkable book: surely the most thorough analysis of the Falklands campaign, combined with a strong element of polemic. Hugh Bicheno is extremely even-handed in his description of the events of the war, giving credit and criticism where due to both sides, but he does not pretend to be impartial as to which set of combatants had right on their side. Argentina was a fascist state, in which the military was driven by extreme nationalism, but tortured and murdered those whose views differed only in terms of nuance. Similarly, the regime professed a devotion to Roman Catholicism, thereby winning support from elements in France, Belgium, Italy and elsewhere, but this supposed piety did not draw the line at throwing nuns out of aircraft. The readiness of the Foreign Office to hand over British subjects to such a regime inspires contempt. Bicheno raises the interesting point of the former Foreign Office minister, who announced in Parliament that British Intelligence could read Argentina's codes. He puts this down to stupidity, but elsewhere wonders how far elements in Whitehall and the BBC deliberately sought to undermine the British forces, with the aim thereby of forcing a change of government in Great Britain. As far as the actual fighting is concerned, it is hard to see how this book can be bettered. Myths grew up on both sides after the war, although the subsequent career trajectories of certain British officers showed that some correct lessons had been learned. Bicheno quotes the exasperation of a Royal Marine, fed up with the widespread acceptance of the idea that the land war was a pushover. If you think that, you should definitely read this book. Read more ›
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
The thorough and careful research of the subject makes this book an authoritative record of the political build up to the actual fighting campaign of the Falklands/Malvinas War. The first four chapters are a complete manifestation of the complexities of Argentinian politics.

An excellent work that will become a reference text book for students.
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not the Complete Story but the best book yet 3 April 2007
Format:Paperback
One mans view of The Falklands Conflict - with a useful insight into the shadowy world of the Argentine Junta and why they couldn't believe 'that woman' would make war on them. Useful 'in the footsteps of' analysis of decisive actions in the war and uninhibited criticism of the 'so called' great and good.This jaded reader was impressed with the arguments mustered - even though not agreeing 100% (95% perhaps).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Un/officially brilliant!! 29 Mar 2013
Format:Paperback
This book is pure synthesis and evaluation of all of the germane activities in the conflict, clearly got by the author through sheer hard work and logical deductions which has been unmistakably based on well founded information. And not, unlike some other books on this subject, bias and opinion framed as analysis. This has context, air power, leadership and politics - even though the ending is known the various journeys are complex but written so as easier to understand and follow. There are even still many unknown unknowns about this conflict but this book sheds light on them and unravels them. I and many colleagues recognise this book as the real, even if unofficial, truth and factually correct based on our time in the Falklands. Thank you Hugh Bicheno for a fabulous book.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dont be put off 2 Jun 2010
Format:Paperback
by the title or the picture. This is a fantastic and ascerbic independent history of the war. Sadly much of what passes for history today is still following other agendas - this book is clearly its own master and all the better for it. Well written; challenging; often insightful in ways no other English history has been. It would be unfair to categorise it as either left or right wing - I personally agree with the author that this split is redundant now in any event. Truly - if you only read one book on the Falklands - make it this one.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A refreshing new approach 25 Aug 2008
Format:Hardcover
A refreshing new approach to the war that not only clarifies the action with research on site, but also crucially gives the background to the war with insight based on experience as a spanish speaking foreign office staffer in Latin America over a number of years.
It's damning conclusions on British foreign policy are second only to it's revulsion to the facist Argentine military regime.
This anti-facist stance does not seem to have won the support of those giving one star reviews however! Perhaps they are too right wing? I suspect the opposite to be true. Reviews from argentine sources predictably belong to the fantasy section, fittingly for a nation wedded to magical realism in literature.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Don't buy this book expecting a detailed history of all aspects of the war - this book concentrates in some detail on the ground engagements, and only mentions the naval and air wars in passing, mostly where it directly affects events on the ground (but often proves more enlightening in a few sentences than some other books manage in a whole chapter).

Despite a cover that might lead you into thinking this is some sort of anti-British account, the author is extremely even-handed about the actions on the battlefields, and does not gloss over a few unpleasant actions on both sides. He is at his entertaining best when railing against the idiots in charge within the UK military and government, and the nazis - yes nazis - in charge in Argentina (who are roasted time and time again).

I found it a real eye opener on the background within Argentina that led to this war, and the accounts of battles (down to details such as which bunker a particular soldier was killed in) are best followed with a copy of the included maps open while you are reading, and lead you to a new respect for the conditions and terrain the troops had to fight through.

The 1 star reviews would indicate the author has a made some enemies - given his uncompromising writing style, it is not surprising and I imagine he raised a smile when he saw those 'reviews'.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars A terrible book on the Falklands
This is just awful. I'm doing an MA assignment on the period prior to the Falklands and stumbled upon this book. I wish I hadn't. It is just poison. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Scott
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book written on the Falklands War
Anyone who wants to understand the Falklands War should read this book, it's probably the best book ever written on the Falklands War, it details the war from both sides both... Read more
Published on 16 Mar 2012 by J. D. Smith
3.0 out of 5 stars Great read with great reservations
Bicheno writes expertly about the battefield scenarios so if you want to know exactly what happened where and why in the Falklands Conflict this book is hard to better. Read more
Published on 11 Mar 2011 by Seanino
5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging
Hugh Bicheno should be congratulated on writting an informative, balanced and stimulating history of the Falklands War. Read more
Published on 5 Aug 2010 by Salthorse
5.0 out of 5 stars Best account I have read from various perspectives
This book is excellent from many perspectives, and is the probably the best book I have read on the story with excellent maps and illustrations. Read more
Published on 29 July 2010 by GG
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting and informative read
I would thoroughly recommend this for anyone interested in, British politics, the Falklands war or the history of the Falkland Islands. Well written without too much bias.
Published on 21 Jan 2010 by A. Peck
4.0 out of 5 stars Covers both the detail and the bigger picture
This is the only book that I've read about the Falklands war and I don't feel the need to read another. Read more
Published on 11 Oct 2008 by Overseas Reviewer
4.0 out of 5 stars A trenchant and opinionated book, but refreshing and insightful
The author makes no effort to hide his views or pretend to be impartial but that is a huge part of the appeal of this book. Read more
Published on 19 Oct 2007 by J. J. Bradshaw
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