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Unscathed: Escape From Sierra Leone [Paperback]

Philip Ashby
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
Price: £12.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

1 Aug 2003
Major Phil Ashby already had a reputation for surviving scrapes, where others would - and did - break bones and worse. His strength, resourcefulness and luck had been tested to the full during his career in the Royal Marines' elite Mountain and Arctic Warfare Cadre, and various adventurous expeditions. That luck, however, appeared to have run out in May 2000, when he was working for the UN, disarming brutalised rebels in war-ravaged Sierra Leone. When the rebels turned on the UN's representatives, butchering, skinning alive and dismembering several peacekeepers and taking over 500 hostages, it seemed that all was lost and that Ashby and the other two Brits and a Kiwi would perish violently and gruesomely. Instead Ashby took the decision to die quickly rather than slowly by attempting to escape through the rebel lines. They were vastly outnumbered. They were unarmed. Somehow he led his three colleagues on a daring, dramatic and heart-stopping escape through hostile jungle. He was awarded the Queen's Gallantry medal for his actions.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Pan; New Ed edition (1 Aug 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330491474
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330491471
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 305,696 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Phil has collected numerous accolades since graduating from Cambridge in 1991. As a Royal Marine, he has been awarded the Commando medal, served as Troop Commander around the globe, served as Captain with the Parachute Regiment in the UK, Norway and Northern Ireland, and, as Major, was posted to Sierra Leone to work with the United Nations as a Military Observer. He has just completed a Masters' Degree at the Royal Military College of Science.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I expected a Mc Knabb/Ryan style of book when i read the back cover of the book.
In fact it turned into more of partial life story which looked at incidents that occurred in Sierra Leone, and the extremely difficult job the UN have to do across the world.
Although it's not an endless tale of shootouts and bombings, it does keeps you at the edge of your seat and at time brings lumps in your throat.
I really enjoyed the book it came across at a human level, and the personal stories interlaced with the more arduous army training made the book a must for a generation brought up on the exploits of Falklands and Gulf War veterans
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, quality read 6 Aug 2002
I agree with one of the other reviewers that the association of the book with "Bravo Two Zero"/Andy McNab is unfortunate. Entertaining as Bravo Two Zero is, Unscathed leaves it far behind in terms of the quality of writing and the ability of the author to engage his (civilian) audience. The book is much more similar to the (non-fiction) works of Ranulph Fiennes.
I could not put the book down - and read it in two days (Working days!) Much to my surprise, my wife then picked it up and had the same experience.
The images of civil-war-torn Sierra Leone are sickening and fascinating by turns.
But this book is really about a fascinating character, doing extraordinary things.
An inspiring read!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an exceptional book- a must read 31 May 2002
By Baz
This book is a must for anyone trying to understand the U.N. or Sierra Leone. Phil Ashby gives the real story behind the headlines, of how peace-keeping really works (or doesn't).
However, it is not just about Sierra Leone. The author describes his background, his love of climbing, his marriage (his description of the rehersal must surely rank as one of the funniest pieces of writing for many years), and his service in the Royal Marines.
His writing is by turns harrowing and hysterical- Major Ashby's deadpan description of his thirtieth birthday: "I inadvertently started a civil war." sums it up.
This is a man who has experienced things that most people never will. He still suffers physically from his time in Sierra Leone, but there is not a single trace of bitterness evident in his writing. An exceptional man, and I wish him, and Anna, all the best for the future.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you liked Bravo Two Zero..... 28 Aug 2003
By A Customer
This book caught my eye from the moment I saw it. I rarely read this type of book, but glancing through the photos I was quite intrigued, and so on a whim I decided to buy it. I was not disappointed. If you like personal military accounts, then you will surely like this one.
The first third of the book is an early biography of the author, detailing his mountain climbing adventures, and his extremely strenuous military training. Although this section is certainly interesting, the truly enthralling part of the book comes when the author is posted to war-torn Sierra Leone on disarmament duties. He quickly becomes embroiled in the conflict, and his only hope of survival is to journey through the jungle with three colleagues, in truly horrendous conditions. It is here that I became involved, willing this small group on to safety.
This is quite an easy read, and I managed to finish it within only a couple of days. It would be perfect for passing the time on a long plane or train journey.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unscathed by Major Phil Ashby 5 April 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Having read 'Ice Bears and Kotick' by Peter Webb, I bought this.
A fast, terrifying, riveting read with precious moments of humour.
I am not an Adrenaline Junkie, but should you wish to become a
Royal Marine, please read this book first!
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4.0 out of 5 stars A disturbing image of a country in a mess 29 May 2002
By A Customer
The branding of this book with Bravo 2 0 is unfortunate. Although there's a little gung-ho military tale-telling in the first third, the real interest is in the account of what life is like in a country like Sierra Leone. Unlike any journalist, Major Ashby lived and worked for 5 months with the rebel leaders and tells the most fascinating stories of why they are how they are. Be warned, some of them are not for the squeamish, and some of the humour is a little macabre. He also provides some pretty thoughtful insights into the operation of the United Nations - which he appears to approve of, in a slightly despairing way. It's a shame he wasn't encouraged to focus more on the politics and characters in Sierra Leone, both within the UN and the RUF, but what's there makes the book a bargain.
Do say: Is that a chimpanzee with an AK47 smoking a joint?
Don't say: He's mostly armless
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
I was so entralled with Phil Ashby's story I read the book in a day and a half. The early tales of his climbing and training with the Royal Marines are brought sharply into focus when he decides to evade capture in Sierra Leone.
This is a book of interest to anyone who enjoys montaineering or real life adventure. It should also be read by anyone with an interest in international relations - the successes and fustrations of UN operations are an enlightening portrayal of the difficulites and sensitivities facing the peacekeeper.
Phil Ashby writes well in an entertaining and entralling manner. He writes with humour while at the same time there is an underlying menace from the RUF pervading the book. The ironic lunacy of the situation, a country which should be rich but is one of the poorest in the world, the tragedy of the child soldiers and the sheer brutality makes for a modern 'Heart of Darkness'. This is contrasted with student pranks and the romance with Anna his wife.
A book in the mould of 'Touching the Void' - Buy it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Unscathed
Very interesting with regards to the Sierra Leone escape but too much preamble on the author's life. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Charles Wright
5.0 out of 5 stars An Authentic voice
First off, terrible cover. Wouldn't have looked at it twice, frankly, not into Andy McNab and his ilk. But this was recommended by a good friend so gave it a shot. Read more
Published on 13 Jun 2010 by Toby J. Wilsher
5.0 out of 5 stars tales of daring
A rivetting account of great adventures and daring escapades ,all true and in our own lifetime. Very inspirational to anyone who yearns for adventure .
Published on 9 May 2010 by the doc
5.0 out of 5 stars Escape from 'Sierra Leone'
Not sure why other reviews are banging on about Bravo Two Zero and the fact that this book isn't like that, the synopsis doesn't draw any parallels? Read more
Published on 28 Oct 2009 by Paul Mc
Phil Ashby has led an an extraodinary life, the books covers not just his exploits in Sierra Leone but also his time at university, joining the Marines, His ML course and a number... Read more
Published on 25 Aug 2007 by Tommy Atkins
1.0 out of 5 stars No Bravo Two Zero
This is book is certainly no Andy McNab novel there is very little action which isn't too hard to believe judging by it's limited number of pages. Read more
Published on 9 Nov 2006 by C. Rivers
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive military autobiography
Very rarely do you find a book so competently written within the military bracket. Major Phil Ashby is a man who has experienced so much that it would be a horrible injustice for... Read more
Published on 29 Jan 2004 by Mr. Paul R. Winks
5.0 out of 5 stars Top notch read, especially for potential Royal Marines
Wow. Just buy the book now. This book will motivate you and inspire you in life and training (if you want to join RM). Read more
Published on 21 Aug 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars unscathed
Fantastic read!
Not being a fan of english when I was at school, I try not to read books as a rule, but this book caught my eye. Read more
Published on 22 Jun 2002 by Mike
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