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The Real Bravo Two Zero: The Truth Behind "Bravo Two Zero" (Cassell Military Paperbacks)

The Real Bravo Two Zero: The Truth Behind "Bravo Two Zero" (Cassell Military Paperbacks) [Kindle Edition]

Michael Asher
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)

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Amazon Review

The Bravo Two Zero mission, in which an eight-man SAS patrol was discovered many miles behind Iraqui lines and had to make a run back for the border and safety, is probably the most famous incident involving British troops in the Gulf War. Two bestselling books--Bravo Two Zero and The One That Got Away--were published and two of the soldiers, using the pseudonyms "Andy McNab" and "Chris Ryan", were launched into new careers as writers. Even the most uncritical reader of the two books would have been aware that some artistic licence had been employed. What Michael Asher claims is the truth about Bravo Two Zero is, however, astonishing. Asher, fluent in Arabic and familiar with the ways of the desert Arabs, travelled to Iraq 10 years after the Gulf War and re-traced the steps of the SAS patrol, finding Bedouin eyewitnesses to events. There is an almost comical disparity between McNab and Ryan's version of the mission and the version Asher reports. According to McNab, when the patrol was discovered, it was by Iraqi soldiers and a furious firefight ensued with the SAS men downing a dozen or more men before fleeing. According to Asher, the mission was "compromised" by three Arab locals, one of them a man in his 70s, and the SAS wisely decided that discretion was the better part of valour and withdrew. According to Ryan, on his lonely journey to the Syrian border, he was obliged to kill two Iraqis, one with his bare hands. According to Asher's sources, he omitted to mention this at his initial de-briefing. One of Asher's aims in his book is to rehabilitate the reputation of Vince Phillips, one of the dead. Most readers of this book and of the tale told by the Arab who discovered Phillips's body will probably decide that he has done so. Yet Asher does not seem motivated by a desire to denigrate the heroism of McNab and Ryan. We get the heroes we want and Asher understands that the Rambo-like exploits they reported were what we, and the media, demanded of them. Their real heroism, respected by both Asher and the Bedouins to whom he spoke, lay in their powers of endurance and determination when utterly isolated and alone, hundreds of miles inside enemy territory. In The Real Bravo Two Zero Asher has written a far better and more humane book than either of the two he deconstructs, but he still seems to understand why McNab and Ryan produced the books they did.--Nick Rennison


'This book is much too good to be left to the SAS worshippers...readers will find his reconstruction of this '20th century Charge of the Light Brigade' absolutely enthralling and share his feeling that the true story is quite stirring enough without embellishments.' The Scotsman

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 700 KB
  • Print Length: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix; New Ed edition (1 Dec 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0068PHUZE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #36,363 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Having served in the Army, I'm suspicious of accounts like this, even one by a Para and SAS veteran like Michael Asher. But to be honest, I was already suspicious of the previous accounts by B20 partol members McNabb and Ryan. So I bought this book, and overall, I'm glad I did, though saddened by some of what Asher seems to have found.

Ex SAS officer General Sir Peter de la Billiere's Gulf War memoir has a concise account of the B20 mission, concentrating on Ryan's tremendous escape. Funny thing is, "DLB" left out the most dramatic single epsode in Ryan's later book, where, now alone, the latter turns at bay and engages and smashes up 2 jeep-loads of pursuers, at night. There's no convincing security, military or other reason why "DLB" would leave this out. It's hard to avoid concluding that Ryan must have made it up later.

This book now leaves it hard to avoid the conclusion that the patrol members' books did a lot more "sexing up" of their already-dramatic stories, for publication.

Main weakness of this book, I think, is that Asher sets out with an agenda - to prove that patrol member Sgt Phillips didn't merit Ryan's unfavourable portrayal - even tho it's a noble agenda, starting with one can cloud judgement. Also I reckon Asher sets just a bit too much stock in differences between the other accounts - complete agreement is not going to happen, even with professionals. Others criticise him, despite Asher being alert to just this point, for being rather too ready to take the word of Arab civilians and policemen in Saddam's Iraq - who basically say that the tales of shootouts are either exaggerated or just invented.

But the point is, that the Arab/Bedouin accounts just ring more true.
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120 of 137 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Truth & Lies 17 Oct 2004
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Many people have criticised me for being too gullible as far as the Iraqis are concerned. However, it may be worth pointing out that there is a big difference between the Iraqis I interviewed and Ryan and McNab - I never caught them out in a lie. Ryan and McNab's versions of events were so completely in contrast, that both could not be true. The Iraqis I talked to, some of them over a long period, and at unguarded moments, were always entirely consistent in their story. They also often told their tales in front of large audiences of families and friends who would have known if they were lying.
Now this does not prove that they were telling the truth. Perhaps they were not. I exercised the same judgement that anyone else would exercise in the circumstances - journalists and police investigators do this all the time. I often gave Ryan and McNab the benefit of the doubt even when I suspected they were not telling the truth. All I can say is, in most cases, I felt that my witnesses were telling the truth to the best of my judgement.
They were certainly more convincing than the accounts of two people who not only disagreed over distances and numbers, but whose accounts were both different from what they said at their official debrief. How could McNab possibly have mistaken two kilometres for twenty?
Unlike those who have criticised me- and unlike Ryan and Mcnab - I know the Bedouin. I speak fluent Arabic and lived for years with a Bedouin tribe. Those people who assume my witnesses were lying 'simply because they were Iraqis' only know the Arabs from the propaganda put forth by the media. This has no connection with the reality.
Despite what they try to tell you in the news reports, the Arabs are not all demons, but real people.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The *Other* Side 23 May 2004
Being a fan of Asher's other works and having devoured McNab's and Ryan's books on the ill-fated patrol, I poured through this with interest.
Asher seems to make it a point to take the Arab side in every detail he finds, acting in the role of counsel for the other side. He sparingly credits the patrol members with performing above-normal acts of heroism and endurance.
The writing is good. His cross-referencing of McNab's and Ryan's books is air-tight. The on-the-ground research is detailed in that he followed the patrols' paths. However, in the field, he assigns each Bedu he meets with the highest virtue and credibility. Though the some of the claims of distances covered and contacts made by Bravo Two Zero are easily debunked, it is not well-balanced to trust the Bedu in every detail.
It does seem the patrol could have been better prepared by each of them studying some Arabic, learning about the Bedu, rechecking comms and having a firm E&E plan. The patrol was extremely far behind enemy lines and this was their first contact under such circumstances so some decisions probably, in retrospect, were not optimal. However, these men were on the ground making out the best they could at the time given their lot.
This is well worth a read. The fog of war assures that the details of each patrol members' accounts will be lacking in some regard. But it should be remembered, Asher easily located the Bedu involved in contacts with the patrol, proving that the Bedu were not so inaccessible as to be exempt to subjection to Iraq.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars thought provoking
Excellent, thought provoking book. As an ex-booty I have always wondered about the veracity of McNab and Ryans' accounts. I loved the books, when they first came out. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Gary Wilson
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
The explanations and the alternative views and opinions to the original book by 'McNab' are all very plausible.. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Steve
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
Informative and more believable than mcnabbs account but has spoilt my view of the work the sas done in Iraq.
Published 7 months ago by sticky
5.0 out of 5 stars eye opening
I wouldn't normally read this category of book, but I couldn't resist it.
Now that I have read it, I have been educated; about the Bedouin and the SAS.
Published 7 months ago by Chris
1.0 out of 5 stars He wasn't there.
Asher was in the SAS, but wasn't on the B20 patrol.He prefers to believe the version given by the enemy. Asher books always show that he has a chip on both his shoulders.
Published 7 months ago by Simon A
5.0 out of 5 stars The Real Bravo Two Zero
An excellent read for anyone who read the original book or who watched the televised portrayal. This is clearly closer to the truth than the hyped up first publication. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Jeff Phillips
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
An inspiring work from a man bent on uncovering the truth. Millions have been earned by the lies of some former members,and reputations of lost colleagues have been tarnished as a... Read more
Published 11 months ago by The dadster
5.0 out of 5 stars A different view of bravo two zero
Well established author with exemplary personal history questions many of the accepted accounts of this gulf war mission. Read more
Published 11 months ago by philip roberts
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
Being a former artic commando and medic trained I know how the cold could inflict on a humans physical and mental condition. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Gunnar
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid investigation
I was, and still am, a bit doubtful about Michael Asher motives. Having said that, with his extraordinary expertise of the desert, he unravels the B2Z story and brings it down to... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Luke
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